Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Interview #5: AJAiken



AJAiken: Selling Santa






Your Nweb and NaNoWriMo usernames, were they inspired by anything?

AJAiken. As someone on NarniaWeb once told me, why was I so dumb to use my own name? That I can't answer.

Who are you?

After spending most of my childhood and teen years and beyond reading books, I completely expected that one day I'd find a wardrobe that led to another world / be swept off my feet by a prince / discover my superpower. When I went to university, I settled for find my soulmate / become a world-famous film director. By the time I left, I hadn't got either, and soon ended up working in my local bookshop. There I am still, and, funnily enough, though I still dream of doing something wonderfully creative with my time (instead of serving customers) I've found that life is just great!

How were you sucked into NaNoWriMo? Did someone person brainwash you into joining?

As far as I remember, there was an enormous discussion about NaNo one year on the NarniaWeb Writers' thread. I have a feeling that the person who wrote these questions had a significant influence on my decision to join up ... and she also helped me get through it, too! Was this your first, second, tenth time participating? 2011 was my fourth year of NaNo.

What was your novel synopsis (or original idea) at the beginning of nano? Genre?

"Noel and his wife have brought up their children very carefully. They attend church every week without fail, are model citizens, and have never believed in Father Christmas. One December, a few days before Christmas, Noel's brother arrives at the family home. When it is revealed that the children's uncle is in fact the real "Santa Claus", Noel will have to revisit his brother's business and placate his family - all while not forgetting the true meaning of Christmas."

I put it in "Mainstream Fiction", but I'm not sure that it is. It must be more like "Christian Christmas Fiction", or something.

Was your synopsis the same or different at the end? Or did you end up writing something completely different?

The synopsis is still remarkably accurate, but the feel of the novel is quite different.

Did you finish? What superpowers enabled you to write 50k in one month?

I did finish, for the fourth time. I think this year was the most difficult for me, but I can honestly say that it was my participation in an ML's "Skeleton Marathon" (which requires participants to update their word count every day) that got me through. So yes, the threat of humiliation was what did it for me.

What method of writing proved to be the most effective?

When I got stuck, I put the things I was thinking about into my characters' thoughts. Sometimes it led on to some really interesting plot developments. Sometimes it did not.

Did this method involve glue, ropes, caffeine or some other forceful inducement?

It involved being pretty honest with myself!

What lesson(s) did NaNoWriMo teach you this past November?

To prepare a LOT more. I was writing about a lot of things I knew nothing about, hence why I used myself as a source of inspiration so much. Most of the story was set somewhere I'd only visited for a few days ten years ago. I also had a lot of private jets / limousines, and though I have been in a limousine (once), that was also about ten years ago. So ... research! Or write something that I can make up.

Website, blog, twitter, etc you want readers to know about?

One day I hope to be tremendously organised and set one of these up. However, I struggle to find time to write as it is, so it hasn't yet happened. When I reach world famous author / director / creative something-or-other status, you can be sure I'll set something up, so ... watch this space.

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