Friday, June 8, 2018

Amber Royer

Amber Royer teaches enrichment and continuing education creative writing classes for teens and adults. She spent five years as a youth librarian, where she organized teen writers’ groups and teen writing contests. In addition to two cookbooks co-authored with her husband, Royer has published a number of articles on gardening, crafting and cooking for print and on-line publications.

Her debut science fiction novel, Free Chocolate, just came out June 5.

Recently I asked Royer about what she was reading. Her reply:
I’m a writing instructor for both UTA and Writing Workshops Dallas, so a lot of what I read is student work. I’ve got some really talented students, so about three of the novels I’m most excited about right now aren’t even finished yet.

I’ve got a couple of light, fun reads loaded up on Audible for my commute, but I’ve been working on a set of new classes, so I’ve been reading some recent (and not so recent) writing theory guides. One of the most fascinating has been Wired for Story by Lisa Cron. It takes traditional story craft advice and matches it up with “brain science” to zero in on why those techniques work. Some of it is at the same time basic and profound. (For instance, why does your story need a plot? “From birth, our brain’s primary goal is to make causal connections – if this then that.” She then elaborates on that statement for an entire chapter.)

I also went back through What Would Your Character Do? by Ann Maisel and Eric Maisel. This one does have some limits -- it assumes a narrow range of choices for how your character will react in different situations. (For instance, there’s a question about a suitcase left unattended at an airport, and it assumes your character is basically a morally upright person who would either leave it alone or turn it in. Whereas, half of my characters would either open it up or steal it. To their detriment, of course.) But it does get you thinking. What would your protag’s family reunion look like? Who would they talk to if they had been (perhaps mistakenly) diagnosed with a terminal illness?

And I re-read The Art of Language Invention by David J. Peterson. I made the mistake of getting that one on audio only when I first picked it up, and then had to go back and get the print book. There’s a lot to linguistics that’s more visual than you think. He starts with sounds (explaining how concepts such as phonetics works) then builds up to words, then goes from there, often using his own work as examples. If you’ve ever tried to differentiate between three alien languages (like I did for Free Chocolate) it’s a fascinating guide.
Visit Amber Royer's website.

--Marshal Zeringue