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May 12, 2011

Interview with a…Muse – Guest: Rachel Firasek

Picture of Rachel Firasek

I’m still at Disneyland, so I have another guest joining us today.  This is the second installment of a new feature here on my blog: Interview with a…Muse (because interviewing our characters is just too sane).  After I had so much fun with my Do You Have a Muse? post, I wanted to see who else might share my insanity.

Last time, we interviewed J.A. Paul and his muse, and today we’re checking in with Rachel Firasek and her…  Well, she doesn’t call it a muse, but why don’t we be the judge of that.

*****

Tickling My Muse

Jami’s on vacation and she’s allowed the madness to take over.  I hope she can pull everything back under control when she returns.  I’d like to discuss with you a growing problem in the writing community.  That’s right, the ever-present muse.  Now, I’ll be the first to wave my hand and declare that I’m lacking a muse, but that’s not altogether true.

I don’t suffer from a gorgeous woman wrapped in a toga, quoting inspirations from the corner of my desk.  I don’t suffer from a hot nymph waiting to feed me stories while massaging my feet and calves.  But I do suffer from a reflection.  That’s right.  I’m my own muse.

Rachel, you’ve lost your mind—I know that’s what you’re saying.  It’s true, I probably have, but I’ve never had a creative muse.  I suffer from a split personality (or alter ego, as I like to call it).  My hubs has threatened to lock me up in one of the old Victorian asylums I’m so enamored with, but he likes his bedmate too much.  *grin*

I thought I’d demonstrate how my alter ego and I work out a scene that’s not quite right.  This is a piece from a new YA I’m working on.  This is my first attempt at a YA, so be kind.  Now, under each line, I’ll let you see how my “muse” alter ego and I fight it out—her name is Alana, by the way.

The wooden handle of the fan brush warmed my fingers, poised over the canvas, waiting for the final stroke to complete the portrait, when the sharp cry of my father’s voice broke my concentration and the brush’s red slash ruined the masterpiece.

Rachel:  I like this.  I think it has the picture created well.

Alana:  Really, you do?  Really?  How can a wooden handle poise over a canvas?  Wouldn’t your hand poise?  Not the paintbrush?

Rachel:  Well, crap, can’t you let me have a little poetic license?

Alana:  That’s not poetic; it’s just crappy and lazy writing.

“Ambryn Marie Ranky, you get your scrawny ass in here.”  His call was muffled by the thin door. The towel shoved beneath it didn’t even conceal his derogatory comments or the slur that mutated my name.

Alana:  This is full of bad writing.  Look at “was muffled.”  You know better than to use passive writing.

Rachel:  Well, I still have to revise this.

Alana:  You wouldn’t have to revise so much if you’d write a tighter draft.

He hated the scent of my oil paints, and I did everything possible to make sure he didn’t notice me.  After shoving the brushes in a can of turpentine, I wiped the remaining residue from my hands on the apron.  The ties loosened with a quick swipe of my hand, and I dropped it over my favorite rocking chair.  This room used to be my mother’s, so dad never came back here, but I loved it.

Rachel:  This works!  I like how I’ve dropped in bits of setting.

Alana:  Except for it doesn’t make any sense.  If she’s making sure he doesn’t notice what she’s doing, why wouldn’t she just drop everything and run to answer his call?  You have a bad habit of not making sense in your first drafts. Fix, please.

(Rachel: That last line might look like she’s being pleasant, but in my mind, the words are dry and full of sarcasm.)

“Girl!”

“I’m coming Dad.”  I pulled the door open and stepped cautiously into the dim lit hallway.  A hand caught the braid trailing down my back and pulled with the force of a bungee cord, yanking me up to my tiptoes.  “What?  Dad!”  I clawed at the hand suspending me on my toes and staggered ahead of him down the hall.

Alana:  This would be okay, if she didn’t ask “what” when someone’s snatching her bald-headed.

Rachel:  So, you think you’d do better?

Alana:  Oh, no, this is your gig.  I’m just the critique.  My job is to cut you down to make you great.

So, now you see my insane breakdown of my own writing.  Please keep in mind the excerpt above is a first draft and nowhere near finished, but it was a good example of how I and my alter ego tear apart my works.

*****

Before I turn the comment section over to Rachel, I think we should take a vote:  Would you call Rachel’s alter ego a muse?  (Why yes, I am a troublemaker.  *smile*)  I also want to know where to get one of those muses who offer foot massages.  And now my muse is giving me the stink eye for even wondering that.  *sigh*  Let’s see what questions Rachel has for us…

Do you have a muse?  Is your muse for creative purposes only?  Does she/he or it help tear apart your work the same way mine does?  Please share, I’d love to know!

*****

Rachel Firasek’s writing career began at the impressionable age of twelve with a poem dedicated to the soldiers of Desert Storm.  A dark macabre affair that earned her a publication in an anthology and many raised eyebrows from family and friends, she hid her poetry and artistic style for years…

Tucked away in the heart of Central Texas, with the loving support of her husband and three children, she dusted the cobwebs from her craft.  Returning to those twisted regions of her mind, she creates dark urban fantasies and soul-searching paranormal romance.

To learn where love twists the soul and lights the shadows, visit Rachel at Facebook, Twitter, and her website/blog.

Cover of Piper's FuryAbout Piper’s Fury:

It’s an empath thing…

Using your “powers” to help the Dark Hills Police Department hunt down serial killers doesn’t leave much time for dating.  Not that Piper Anast is complaining.  The last thing she needs is some guy brushing up against her and pumping his pornographic thoughts into her head.

When she meets Bennett Slade, a sexy, tormented vampire, Piper stumbles headlong into a telepathic connection with his missing daughter.  She can’t leave the kid to the evil surrounding her unwanted visions, nor can she resist her draw to Slade.  He’s the first guy she’s been able to touch vision-free in, well, forever.

As she and Slade close in on the evil creature holding his daughter, Piper’s powers morph into a deadly fury.  To save Slade’s daughter—and herself—Piper must face down demons she never knew she had and trust the one thing she keeps from everyone.

Her heart.

35
Comments — What do you think?

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Aubrie

Rachel,

Creative post today! I love the cover of “Piper’s Fury”. (Neat red eye!) I have a friend named Piper, maybe I should get it for her?

Rachel Firasek

Well, Aubrie, I absolutely think you should get your pal a copy. *winks* And I love Piper’s Red eye! Alana wasn’t so sure about that, but it works!

Margaret Fieland

Rachel, loved the post. I call mine my “inner editor” (IE for short). Lately, I’ve been telling IE quite firmly that if I don’t write it first, I can’t revise it, and would she please *be quiet* so I can finish this section. Then, of course, I have to go back and fix it up.

Rachel Firasek

I have to lock Alana away when I’m drafting, or drown her with loud music. I love you initials for your muse. Too cute!

Melissa Stark
Melissa Stark

Great interview! I love the conversations in your head, Rachel! 🙂

I don’t have a muse, per se, either. My characters become so real to me in my mind, like living, breathing people telling me what is happening in their lives. Sometimes I don’t like the decisions they make because I had a way different direction in mind, but it’s fun going on the trip with them. Most of the time. LOL.

Thanks for letting us peek inside your mind, Rachel!
~Melissa

Rachel Firasek

We had the fun the other night making fun of my current WIP. We (Alana & I) accepted emmies for our award winning dramatic performance. I love that you see your characters so clearly, I prefer to pick and degrade mine until they become real people. lol.

Shea Berkley

Rachel, I think you’re completely sane. I don’t have a muse either. Cranky, unpredictable creatures. I argue with myself all the time and question my motives for every scene. It’s healthy, because the last thing I want is to use up space in a useless manner.

Great post! Congrats on spliting your personality. You’re now twice as fun as everyone else! (grin)

Rachel Firasek

Shea, lol. Twice as fun, I’ll have to remember that. I’m glad I’m not the only one that argues her way through a scene. I’m tired of endless re-writes so, having my alter along to keep me in line is a good thing!

Christine Ashworth

Hey Rachel! Now I totally understand you and your process, lol! Um, no, I don’t have a muse. I have a husband, and he’s a nagger. Always asking me how many words I’ve done, how far along I am, and when I’m going to get my bestseller written. Sigh!

Rachel Firasek

Christine, we should get our husbands together. They sound mated. lol. Mine does the same thing. 🙂 Thanks for coming by and shhh… don’t tell anyone I’m half crazy.

SJ Owens
SJ Owens

Rachel, you’re a hoot and I love you. My muse has several guises and I’m never sure what, where or who will speak to me.

Rachel Firasek

I so hear ya woman! Raise your glass to the muse that defies logic! 🙂

Gene Lempp

My muse thinks Alana might be her mother 🙂

I do have a muse although she is more capricious in nature, more sprite than nymph. She mocks me with a derisive laugh where yours seems to scold. I think that the muse that finds us is generally one that sees our faults and knows exactly how to drive us to overcome the weaknesses in order to attain our true potential.

Just don’t tell Alana 🙂

Rachel Firasek

Ha! I’ll be sure to keep it from her. LOL. Now, see I would think she’s the mother-figure I created. My own mother is not as likely to scold, so maybe I’m just looking to be punished. Love it. Thanks for stoppping by.

Irene Vernardis
Irene Vernardis

😀 Very enjoyable.

And no, Jami, I won’t answer to the question about the muse. I’m not messing with Alana, sorry. *keeping safe distance* 😀

Thank you Rachel for sharing and thanks Jami for hosting.

M.E. Anders
M.E. Anders

What a unique twist on the typical interview with authors. A muse or an inner editor, that is the question. 🙂

Rachel Firasek

Thanks! When Jami asked me to do this, my first reaction was like “I don’t have a muse, I have a sadist.” It was very easy after that. lol.

Alison

Great interview! I really enjoyed it!!
Jami, I left something for you on my blog when you get back from your vacation!

Rachel Firasek

Thanks, Alison. It was major fun!

Murphy

Hi Rachel!
Sorry I’m coming so late to the party. Great interview! I loved how you got down in the process.

Personally? My inner muse could give a rats ass about passive sentence structure – right Jami? 😉 But I guess that’s what makes a muse, a muse. It’s the why and how that muse works for the creator of the project it is there to give inspiration to.

Thanks for giving me something to think about.

Murphy

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[…] I want to thank J.A. Paul and Rachel Firasek for their guest posts.  I had fun with their interviews and I hope you all did […]

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