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Monday, February 20, 2012

Guest Post: The Madness of Book Writing by Allison Karras

The Madness of Book Writing

Being a writer sometimes means crossing lines of sanity. Sometimes, it means forgetting where those lines are.

That’s what I learned after writing my latest book, Demon Revelation. It’s the second book in The Samantha Carver Saga, and is about a teenage girl who lives on the Oregon coast and is being stalked by demons. The book is also the second book I’ve ever written, and it’s taught me loads about the writing process.

Writing a book isn’t always glamorous or elegant. I always thought it would be, but it’s not.

Writing a book is waking up at 3 o’clock in the morning because you can’t figure out plot details. It’s getting bad shakes because you’ve had too many cups of coffee in an attempt to get you through the next two thousand words. It’s clearing your calendar of all social plans because your characters are expecting you to help tell their story every night.

It’s being a shut-in, a hermit. In short, writing a book makes you feel like you’re losing your mind for a few months.

In writing DemonRevelation, I found myself teetering on the edge a lot. Sometimes it was hard to remember where my characters began and where I left off. Sometimes, out of the blue, they’d start talking to me, telling me about themselves – significant things, and insignificant things alike. One of the characters, Terry -- Sam’s cousin and best friend -- would tell me that even before he was bitten by one of the demons, he’d never felt completely whole, that he’d never completely fit in. Another character, Shane, would tell me things, too. About his motivations, his reasoning. Why he’s helping Samantha. Why she matters so much to him.

Other times, I couldn’t get my characters to talk to me no matter how hard I’d try, and I’d have to spend a frustrating night just trudging through a chapter, like walking uphill in sand. Then I’d worry the characters had abandoned me. That their voices had just disappeared into thin air. That I would never hear them again.

But then, sure enough, they’d start talking again. And I’d be reminded that I needed to have more faith.

I’ve never been so deeply entrenched in anything in my life as this book. I was consumed by it. At night sometimes I’d just be stuck in some sort of halfway dream state where I was still typing away, editing, rereading, proofing. During the day at the office, I’d stare out the window, thinking about these characters and what they were going through.

Towards the end of the process, I’d lost most of my appetite, was completely overloaded on caffeine, and had a laundry pile that was bordering on the ridiculous. I hadn’t been anywhere aside from my job at the newspaper in weeks. I was having trouble remembering things unrelated to the book. I was definitely losing it.

But that’s what I’ve learned about writing after finishing this book. I’ve learned that sometimes, you have to push yourself to that breaking point for the story to come out. You have to give yourself completely to it. Nothing matters more than the book during the time you’re writing it. Nothing.

When Demon Revelation was finally published, I was so happy. I felt like I’d done my characters justice, and that I’d done my best to give them life. I did my best to tell their story. 

You’d think that after going through something as intense as those months of writing that I’d never want to do it again. That’d I’d give up by reason of insanity (or near insanity). But you know what? That’s part of the madness. You finish a book, and you can’t wait to start the next one. At first you think, I’m going to take a long vacation after this. But a few days into vacation, you start itching for the blank page. Because the characters don’t stop speaking just because you’ve finished the book. There’s more of their story to tell.

Writing a book is complete madness – but there’s a place for me in it. And I know that even on the hard days, when I feel like I’m losing my mind, there’s nothing I’d rather be doing. Because the creative process can drive you insane, but there’s nothing that makes you feel quite so alive.

Allison Karras is a young adult horror author who lives in a dusty mountain town in Oregon. She loves everything to do with the horror genre -- books, TV and movies. A fan of the well-known and obscure, she is a pop culture junkie who also enjoys Film Noir, Westerns and Vincent Price movies. When not writing books about zombies in love, she works in the real world as a reporter.
(Samantha Carver Saga, Bk 2)
It’s been almost a year since evil sprung from the dead cemetery soil of Freeport, Oregon.

A year since Samantha Carver, with the help of mysterious stranger Shane Damon and her cousin Terry, picked up her baseball bat and fought the demons stalking her.

It’s been a year of relative peace and quiet and a chance to be a normal teenage girl. But the tides are changing. Once again, Samantha must summon all her strength to fight the impending darkness that is growing stronger by the day.

Sam begins to be plagued by a series of vivid visions. Dreams of dying under a blood-red moon in a faraway place. Of a man whose eyes glow with the fires of hell. Of murderous demons after her flesh.

With Shane's help, Sam begins unlocking the visions, discovering a dark and terrible secret that threatens to do more damage to Sam’s world than the demons ever could.


(Samantha Carver Saga, Bk 1)
(formerly Drowning in Darkness)

Some secrets should stay buried…

Samantha Carver thought she could leave the past behind. After moving to a sleepy town on the Oregon coast, she thought she would finally be free of the darkness that has been plaguing her since she was a child.

When a girl at Samantha’s new high school is brutally murdered, the police suspect her cousin and best friend, Terry, of committing the gruesome act. But Sam knows what her family, the teachers, and the police don’t.

She knows that Terry didn’t kill the girl.

Because a demon did.

Samantha’s dark secret has returned from the grave to stalk her. And it’s come back with a vengeance.