This week I sat down with one of my favorite people, Quamaine Byrd, and bugged the hell out of him about his experiences while writing. In the course of the interview we had a little unwanted “help” from my characters. They never sit by and let me have all the fun.
RC: Why did you decide to start writing?
Quamaine: Well, that’s a pretty good question. I guess you could say that I started writing more out of necessity than some irresistible urge. Back when I was first beginning middle school I had a lot of things going on (moving to Michigan, my father leaving the country, and some other things) and I did not have a positive outlet at the time. It was either go down the same road as my cousins and get in trouble, or find something positive and constructive to do with my time.
I settled on writing short screenplays for my younger cousins and myself to act in. I did this for a year or so, but the Summer of ’07 is when I really got into writing. I stumbled upon a new world, the world of online role-playing. Eventually, I met a couple of awesome writers and joined a group focusing on the Dark-Hunter series by Sherrilyn Kenyon. Naturally, things started out a little rough at first because I had no previous experience in this world and a lot of my works were one paragraph replies. I’m not sure when I made the transition, but my one paragraph posts starting becoming multiple paragraphs and eventually blossomed into page-long replies.
I met two really good friends and excellent writers, Renee Murphy and Sandi Bischoff whom I knew only as Nick Gautier and Apollymi for the longest time. Somewhere along the way we developed a rocky relationship that are now friendships that I value greatly. Both are extremely talented, fiercely loyal, and most importantly, able to put up with me on a continued basis. It is because of those two females that I decided to wake up Jourdan and take the big step into attempting to write my own book.
Lucifer: But… didn’t you hear that this crap is HARD to do?
Q: You know, I was never actually told that this crap would be so hard, but I suppose some part of me knew it would be. I spent nearly a year and a half watching, listening, and being a sounding board for two my friends writing their own book. During that time it dawned on me that writing a book, no matter how motivated and excited you are for it, is never a walk in the park. There will always be ups and downs, writers block, and God knows what else, but I learned from observing Renee and Sandi that no matter what you can’t stop. When the Voices want out, they want out, and nothing that you can do will keep that from happening so I say just save yourself the headache and do it. It’ll hurt a lot less and pay off much more if you deal with the headaches of writing as opposed to the headaches of not writing.
Aksel: How does it feel to be RC’s writing minion?
Q: Hmm, good question. I don’t suppose you all want to here about what myself and Renee do in our free time when we’re up at night writing? Ha, just kidding! Renee would kill me if I aired our laundry. Anyway, to answer the question, being Renee’s writing minion is….unique. I never know what I’m going to get, what to expect, and sometimes I don’t even know what to say. Our relationship is like the craziest roller-coaster ride that I can’t (but would never want) get off of because its one constant in my life and I don’t know what I’d do without it. The only downside to being the minion, however, is when she makes me dress up in her lady garments and…. Wait, sorry, I was thinking that, my fingers weren’t actually supposed to type it.
RC [blushes and changes topics]: Do you have a “ritual” for your writing time?
Q: Rituals…I would like to say I don’t have one, but that would be a lie. I never noticed before, but whenever I’m preparing to write I clean my entire room first, open the windows and prop the door open so I can see, smell and hear nature. It’s actually quite weird, because if you know me, you know that I absolutely hate being outside, but I love the idea about having the choice if I want to. I can’t really explain it, so I’ll just chalk it up to a writer thing.
RC: What is your current WIP (work in progress)?
Q: Ah, the big question! My current work in progress is an untitled fictional piece. The main character, Jourdan, is a sex demon who has lived for thousands of years, the most of which were spent enslaved to a cruel goddess. He escaped long ago with the help of another demon named Augustine, who he comes to love, but their relationship becomes something dark and painful over the centuries. This is all complicated further by the reemergence of an age-old enemy of Augustine’s and the Goddess’ vengeful crusade to ruin Jourdan’s life.
RC: How much of yourself goes into your characters?
Q: Well, I would like to lie and say none, but that is far from the truth. Every character of mine embodies, or at least reflects, some aspect of my life/personality/experiences. Take Jourdan, for instance. He’s a real tortured soul. He was raised to be a slave to a ruthless and capricious Goddess and spent the majority of his youth and adult life under her iron fist. Though he has done many a thing he wish he could forget or go back and change, Jourdan continues to have a set of morals that he tries his damnedest not to deviate from.
I find myself struggling with the same thing in my day-to-day life as well, and some of my experiences are mirrored when I write with Jourdan. I try to make a conscious effort to keep my own life from bleeding in when I’m breathing life into the Voices, but as writers know, it’s not easy to stop them once they decide they want something.
RC: You write a lot of gods, demigods, and generally powerful characters, do they get along at all in your head?
Q: Ha! That’s funny that you ask, because as we speak two of the Voices (Thorn and Jourdan) are bickering about what music we should be listening to on Spotify right now. Thankfully it’s not as bad as when Thorn buts heads with Jaden… Gods, that is just one massive migraine that I, thankfully, haven’t had to deal with in a good long while. But generally the Voices get along pretty well. There’s a lot of mental real estate in my head and everyone is typically more than comfortable in their individual spaces unless someone else butts in.
Lucifer: What are your writing goals for the next six months? The next year?
Q: Goals, goals, goals. I love setting them, especially for writing, but it never works out! I have had Jourdan’s entire book mostly planned out from beginning to end for months now and I still run into road blocks. I’m not sure what it is, because I’m a long-term focused sort of person, but this book is like pulling teeth from a dragon right now.
Optimistically, however, in six months it would be nice to at least have my first draft of the entire book finished and ready for review, editing, etc. Don’t tell Renee, but she’s going to be a beta reader and I just know she’s going to bleed my entire damn manuscript dry. In the next year, I would like to see Jourdan’s book published. With who or where, I’m not too picky on, so long as they don’t try to change my book. After that I’d like to begin writing book two, as I have intended to make this a series from the beginning. Hopefully it all works out. Wish me luck!
Aksel: Where the hell are my human sacrifices?
Q: I’ve been told by that human sacrifices have been illegal for some time now, but according to at least three Voices, there is a way to do it without getting caught. I won’t ask, because I don’t need to be held responsible for anyone attempting a human sacrifice to some unknown demon because they needed a new dog or money. Sorry folks, no human sacrifice cook book here!
RC: Any advice for fellow budding writers?
Q: Well, I’m still fairly new to the writing world myself, but all I can say is never, ever give up on yourself or your vision. And don’t force it. I find that I write some of my greatest scenes when I allow things to just flow and go where they please. Don’t tie yourself up in what everyone else thinks is right and wrong—write what you feel is right and you can never go wrong.
Thank you, Quamaine. That was… enlightening. I need to go take stock of my lingerie drawer now.