One-On-One With Tippi N. Blevins

July 28, 2003: In a Geek World first, author Tippi N. Blevins answers questions in two different categories! Check out her answers to the questions here, and then head over to the comics section to get the lo-down on her latest project!

1. How do you come up with the ideas for your stories; in other words, how do the muses work for you?

I raise them on a small, organic muse farm--strictly free-range muses for me!

In other words, I don't really know.

When I was a kid, before I could really read, I would pass the time by looking through books and making up stories for the pictures. They were usually very melodramatic or horrific, or both--I think it was a byproduct of being exposed to horror films at an early age. A lot of people got eaten by giant squids and other sea monsters in my stories, thanks to a set of Jacques Cousteau's marine encyclopedia. I think it's kind of the same today. I'll see an image or hear a strain of music and some little spark of something flashes in my head--the beginnings of a story or scene. I try to be observant and really notice the world around me; you never know where the next bit of inspiration is going to come from.

2. Do you have a special routine when you're writing, or can you just sit down at a computer and start typing?

I'm sort of always writing. I'm thinking of some scene, or I'll be in the grocery store and going over some dialogue between two characters. I may not be sitting in front of a computer, but the story is always alive. As for the actual sitting down and typing... It works both ways. Sometimes a routine works best, and sometimes I just start writing, any old time.

3. Who are your literary influences?

You know the weird thing? My biggest inspiration for writing seems to come from musicians. Maybe because I used to play the cello and some little part of me is still a musician, too. Right now, my biggest influence is probably Sister Machine Gun. I really like the way Chris Randall operates. He's really involved in all the aspects of his band's creations. If you order a CD from his site, he's the one who sticks it into a bubble envelope and mails it to you. You can't really pin down SMG's music in one category--it's just *good*. They're not afraid to experiment and branch out and try something new. One CD is industrial, the next might be trance, or jazzy. That really speaks to me as a writer and how I want to operate. When I first started publishing, I had more than one writer tell me I should stick to one genre and get "known" for that kind of writing. That just made me antsy. There's so much to explore out there.

4. Generally how long does it take you to write an average novel? How many different revisions do you usually go through?

I wrote one in nine weeks and one in five. I have several I've been working on, on and off, for years. None of them have been published yet, so I can't say which method works best... I honestly don't know how many revisions one goes through. I tend to edit a little as I go along--I can't help myself--and then I'll go over it again weeks, months, or even a year or two later. By then, I will lose track of how many revisions I've done.

5. How do you deal with writers-block?

I just more or less accept it. I don't think of it as a block so much as my brain's way of saying it needs some downtime. When I start to get antsy to write again, I'll do something fun and exciting and completely unrelated to what I was writing. When I least expect it, the urge to write returns. Kind of of those Chinese finger puzzles. The more you struggle, the more trapped you become. Relax, and you're let loose.

6. Out of everything you've written, which would you say is your favorite; which gives you the most satisfaction of a job-well-done?

I had an online serial about this horrible, lame vampire mafia in a small Texas town. They were just awful, and not at all like the cool, suave vampires in most stories (or even in most of my own), but I just loved writing it. That's unfinished, though, so I guess it's not really a job well *done*. For that, I'd have to say my favorite is one of my oldest. Actually, maybe it's my favorite *because* it's the oldest. I can read "The Dog-Faced Boy & The Amazing Winged Man" with a mix of nostalgia and objectivity, and it's not like reading one of my own stories at all. It's more like a visit with some people I've really missed.

7. Do you have a favorite character that you've created?

Oh, that's so hard! I try not to play favorites... But since this is the fantasy section, I'll narrow it down and pick a fantasy character.

In some of my stories, there's this retired "charming prince" named Joe Prince. Except there's nothing charming about him. He's a cantankerous old fart, politically incorrect, has a famously short temper, and a deep, dark, secret past. Plus, he wears tights. I like a guy in tights.

8. What do you think makes a good fantasy author?

I think it's probably the same thing that makes any kind of good author. I want to read things by people who have a burning desire to tell that particular story. For them, the story is real, and it comes across as real to me, too, even if the characters have wings or fangs or green, scaly skin.

9. Can you tell us what you're currently working on and when you expect it will be available in bookstores?

I've been working on comic books, but I have some things that are out in bookstores now. You can see my story, "Presumed Icarus", in the ROC anthology, The Best of Dreams of Decadence. I also have a collection of vampire stories out from Wildside Press/DNA Publications called Dreams of Decadence Presents: Wendy Rathbone & Tippi N. Blevins. That one's available at Amazon.

10. Random quote or piece of advice you'd like to share to end this with?

Don't forget to spay and neuter your pets!

Er...sorry. I keep forgetting I'm not Bob Barker.

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