Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Process Project: Meet Kara Jorgensen!

If you're not yet familiar with the Process Project, check us out here!
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Kara Jorgensen is an author and professional student from New Jersey who will probably die slumped over a Victorian novel. An anachronistic oddball from birth, she has always had an obsession with the Victorian era, especially the 1890s. Midway through a dissection in a college anatomy class, Kara realized her true passion was writing and decided to marry her love of literature and science through science fiction or, more specifically, steampunk. When she is not writing, she is watching period dramas, going to museums, or babying her beloved dogs.

And now, for the questions...

JB: What is your genre? 

KJ: My main genre currently is historical fantasy or more specifically steampunk, but my work tends to have a literary fiction edge. I have another series on the backburner that I will be working on soon that is fantasy.

JB: Do you think your genre of writing informs your process? 

KJ: For sure! Because I’m writing historical fantasy, I’m constantly stopping to do research. Sometimes I wonder how much quicker I would write a book if I didn’t need to constantly stop looking up trivial facts that I wanted to confirm.

JB: Who/what inspires you?

KJ: Some of the writers who have inspired me are: Anne Rice, Oscar Wilde, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Gail Carriger, Charlotte Bronte, Sarah Waters, and Iris Murdoch. Apart from other writers, I’m definitely inspired by art and science. I have a bachelors degree in biology, so my brain automatically latches onto science. Both books incorporate scientific processes, odd contraptions, or medical scenes. I love being a doctor vicariously through my characters. The reason I tend to favor scifi or fantasy is to deal with the what-ifs of science.

JB: ​What is your writing routine​ like? 

KJ: I don’t know if I have a routine. I’m still figuring that out, I think. When it’s time to get down to business, I’ll brew myself a cup of coffee and settle in. I like the ritualistic aspect of preparing a cup of coffee. My best writing period tends to be in the evening, but my I often have highly productive writing sprints right before bed. By then, my guard is down and the words flow, but it often needs twice as much editing because it’s obvious I was half asleep. Sometimes, if I’m in a bit of a writing slump, I need to ditch the laptop and write with a pen and paper, preferably a purple or pink pen.

JB: When you are preparing to write a new story, what kinds of techniques or methods do you use to organize your ideas?

KJ: A lot of times ideas will come to me while I’m working on something else. It can be hard for me to juggle more than one project during the semester, so I tend to make a Word document where I jot down bullet points of ideas. When I’m in the brainstorming process, I usually make a Pinterest board where I can collect visual inspiration as well as websites that could help me with the story later.

JB: While you are working on a piece, do you have any particular way that you structure your work? 

KJ: In the beginning, I start off with an idea of what the major events in the story will be, but I try to let it unfold organically. Once I’m a few chapters in and feel that the foundation is settling, I begin to outline the major events for the next few chapters. I don’t like to plan too many at one time because it often changes as my characters lead me elsewhere. When I’m unsure of how events should play out, I’ll make index cards and post-its to figure out in what order things should happen (this works well for figuring out where to weave subplots).

JB: When it's time to revise/edit your work, do you have any particular methods that you use to help you through the process? ​

KJ: Pen and paper. I’ve always found I did a more thorough job when I printed my entire manuscript out and attacked it with a brightly colored pen. I write all over my work, crossing out words, writing new chunks in the margins. Being away from the computer allows me to stay focused for an extended period of time (which is tough for me), but I also try to break my story down into smaller chunks and only tackle a few chapters at a time. If I try to edit too much, I find I’m not paying close attention. Typically, I do 3-5 rounds of editing, not including proof-reading.

JB: And most importantly: why do you write? 

KJ: I write because there are books that I want to read that don’t exist yet. When I write, I write first and foremost for myself. I try not to think too much about my audience until I’m in the editing stage. Sometimes my characters inspire me as well. I get an idea for a certain person in an odd situation and feel compelled to bring them to life. I want readers and sales, but I care more about pleasing myself. If I’m not proud of my work and don’t enjoy the story, there is no point in sharing it with others.

JB: Before we go, is there any advice you can give to writers struggling to get the words flowing? ​

When I’m stuck, I feel like nothing helps, but here are some tricks I have learned along the way: get up and move around, go for a walk to take in some new scenery, take a shower (we all know how ideas pop up there), read a book (especially by an author you enjoy), look at some art, hit up Pinterest for visual inspiration, do some free-writing, try deleting the last chunk of your work and see if you can go from there.

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Thank you so much, Kara, for participating in the Process Project! 

Did you get any new ideas from Kara's interview? Let us know! Are you going to try editing by hand? Taking walk when you get stuck? Trying Pinterest for inspiration? Need more Kara? Follow her online or read her books! Links below...

Follow Kara online! 

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