Tips for authors Q & A with Author Catharine Bramkamp “Future Girls”
The future is so, well, depressing in Future Girls, what inspired you to create such a repressed future?
On a visit to Saudi Arabia we visited a shopping mall – there wasn’t much else to see in the small town we were able to visit. And in that mall were three stores side by side catering to women. The first store featured long burqas, in every color ranging from black to navy. Full headdresses, long coats or robes.
The second store looked like Fredrick’s of Hollywood on steroids. Brightly colored bras and negligees vied for attention in the store window. The next store featured dresses fit for prom or Quinceanera. Brilliant orange, purple and pink sequins, frills and tule spilled out of the shop floor and danced along the shop doors. The male guide explained that their women liked to look beautiful for their men in the privacy of their home.
Which was bullshit.
Women don’t dress for men. Women dress for other women. And that was my trigger. If Saudi women were dressing up and showing off to their women friends in the privacy of their homes, and indeed, far away from the men in the family, what else are they doing? If the men have marginalized you so completely, so that you are only able to communicate with other women, ever, what would you communicate? What would you plot? Once the women tired of dressing up, what was next? In my mind, it was science, time travel, changing their situation in a way that circumvented the men in their lives. Kind of like, if you can’t join ‘em, change all the rules for membership.
· How can you write so convincingly?
I think a lot of practice went into this novel. This is my 13th book – I’m hoping that 13 is lucky and this one will take off in a viral, wild way! One of the secrets if you will, was employing (or cajoling, or threatening, there are many words for my approach) a group of about 9 Beta Readers. These brave individuals read the third or so draft of Future Girls and gave me very constructive and honest feedback. That in turn really helped make that first chapter pop – and engage the reader.
· HOW much longer do I have to wait for the next one? February?
I have Future Gold at Eternal Press as we speak, I hope that it will be released this year! And I am working (not really, it’s on the list) on Future Run and will publish it in 2016. Then my podcast partner, Damien said, so, you need to write a book about how time travel was discovered. And I groaned at the very thought. Then he sent me a book on the science of time travel for Christmas and now I was committed. So I have the title – Future Sky, and the heroine who we meet briefly in Future Gold, and Voila, three lines of Book Four. That’s how it begins.
· How do you create a series?
The series creates you. Write a book, write the whole book, beginning middle and end. Then, if the character or situation calls for more information or just more to say, that is the inspiration for the next book. I recently read that a successful author always ends her books with cliff hangers so the reader must buy the next book. That is an interesting idea, but I appreciate a full story per book – both the cliff hanger and just writing that middle book as a bridge between the first and last in a series, cheats the author. I liked CS Lewis’s Narnia books because he really was writing one full story per book, intertwining the characters, and only explaining some features in book one – the Lion Witch and the Wardrobe, in book five – the Magician’s Nephew. That is more art rather than commerce.