NaNoWriMo: Meet the Writers

Lectito gets to know five writers taking on the challenge of NaNoWriMo 2015. 

Earlier this week I wrote about taking on NaNoWriMo for the first time in 2015. It’s a crazy, crazy challenge (I’m only now beginning to appreciate the full extent of the madness) that writers take on for any number of reasons and approach in all manner of ways. I’m doing it because I write like a snail and figured it would be a good way to temporarily shut down my internal editor and smash out a first draft. But I was keen to hear why it might appeal to other writers as well. So I put a call out and found five writers who have all signed up for different reasons and are working on diverse projects.

I’ll be checking in with these guys every week throughout NaNoWriMo to see where they’re at with their word count, how they’re managing their time, what’s inspiring them, what’s challenging them and what advice they have for their fellow NaNos, as we’re called. But first, I asked each of them to share a little about themselves, their novel and their reason(s) for taking on NaNoWriMo 2015. Here’s what they had to say:

Kate Hayford

Writing from: Adelaide, South Australia

Kate Headshot

Basically I’m still working on my Ph.D novel-in-progress, but at the eleventh hour I’ve worked out that the voice (third-person) isn’t working and needs to be first-person instead, so that’s going to involve a lot of rewriting, AND I chucked the last third of my draft because I changed the ending. So I signed up to NaNoWriMo in the hope that I’d be able to write the last 30000 words of my novel by the end of November. I’m using it as a kick in the bum more than anything, because I struggle with writers’ block and motivation. (Whenever I sit down to write, somehow the house ends up getting cleaned instead.)

About Kate’s book: I first discovered Hirta when I was about twelve – I read a book called The Druid’s Gift by Margaret J. Anderson. Twenty-five years later I couldn’t remember the name of the book or the author, but some of the images were striking and had stayed with me, and I really wanted to find that book again. After a lot of futile Googling I found it, read it (and loved it as much as I had at twelve), and realised that Hirta was a real place, largest of the archipelago known as the St Kilda Islands. I looked them up on Wikipedia, which was where I found out that Hirta had been decimated by smallpox in 1727. Of the 120-odd people, 94 deaths were recorded. I was horrified when I read that. But the islands and their culture were fascinating, and I purchased a book about St Kilda to read more. Gradually, I realised that very little had been recorded about the smallpox epidemic. The Hiortaich were largely illiterate and there were no accounts of the survivors. Historians spoke of them much in the same way that the First Fleet officers spoke of indigenous Australians – as though they were a mildly interesting species of fauna. The owner of Hirta, clan chief MacLeod of Dunvegan, ordered the island resettled the year following the smallpox – and according to history books, life then continued on as before. But it couldn’t have. It couldn’t possibly have. The survivors, largely children, must have endured a terrible burden of grief and loss. …

This, ultimately, is why I chose to write this story. I cannot bring these people back; I know nothing of them as individuals, and only two of their names have been recorded. But through my characters, I hope to give a voice to the nameless and a recognition of their courage. For it must have taken courage to survive their ordeal.

Visit Kate’s NaNoWriMo profile.

Jean Davis

Writing from: Holland, Michigan

Jean Headshot

My first novel – my 2009 NaNo novel – A Broken Race was just released and I currently have 11 published short stories [you can find the latest here] and three more upcoming. One of those short stories was also written during  a rebel year of NaNo in 2010. This is my 10th year participating and 7th year as an ML.

This year, I’m attempting to write a YA sci-fi novel that began as a short story during that 2010 50k of short stories effort, and has been sitting on my hard drive ever since. My thirteen year old daughter recently read my failed short story and demanded that I pick it back up. So I made some notes and figured out the middle and end. Now it’s just a matter of putting it together. It sounds so easy when I put it like that. Ha!

Visit Jean’s NaNoWriMo profile.

Bacil Donovan Warren

Writing from: Tucson, Arizona

Bacil Headshot

I’m a 45-year-old man living in Tucson, AZ. In my history, I was an Army brat who lived in VA, CA, AZ, GA, and South Korea. I later enlisted, and was an M1 tank crewman 87-89 in Germany and 89-91 at Ft. Bliss, TX, from where I deployed for Desert Shield & Desert Storm. After, I attended the University of Arizona, and have worked as a Computer Technician, Network Technician, Test Engineer (computer hardware/software), EMT, and Paramedic. Now, I’m focused on writing and working as a freelance software developer.

I am writing a hard sci-fi novel, which is a story of how humans find out the answer to Fermi’s Paradox (“where is everybody?”). Humans accidentally witness an alien probe landing on Mars and discover one potential danger of the AI singularity, when the probe turns out to belong to an entirely Robot alien civilization who then attempts to wipe out humanity.

I am taking part in NaNoWriMo for two main reasons: first, because I’ve put it off three years in a row prior and felt like I needed to at least attempt it; and second because I felt like the story was ripe enough in my head to benefit from getting poured out into documents. The focused writing process that NaNoWriMo is definitely out of my comfort zone (like many, I edit in my head, sometimes while writing), and I think it has helped me focus on getting the story out.

Visit Bacil’s NaNoWriMo profile.

Courtney Egan

Writing from: Adelaide, South Australia

Courtney Headshot

A story has been haunting me for the last eight months and I decided to participate in NaNo in the hopes it would encourage me to complete my first draft. This is my second attempt at NaNo. I will be writing about themes and issues surrounding gender roles and society in a fantasy setting. It will be the story of Kesta, a young Noblewoman from the matriarchal Empire of Capria, and how her life is changed forever when her mother the Golden Fox – Divine Commander of Capria’s forces, is accused of treason.

After months of world building, character sketches and talking to myself in the shower (dialogue practice – it’s a writers’ thing? Right?.. Right?) I am finding that the words are flowing a lot more freely than during my previous attempt and the story is slowly coming to life. I have direction. I have support from my friends and family and I believe NaNo 2015 will be the year I reach 50k.

Find out more about Courtney and her work on Instagram: @eucafox.

Visit Courtney’s NaNoWriMo profile.

Styna Lane

Writing from: Mansfield, Ohio

Styna Headshot

This is my first year doing NaNo, and I’m aiming for 70,000 words. I just ended Day 1 with 7,065 words, so I’m well on-track. I’ve self-published three novels, and my NaNo project is the sequel to my most recently released work.

I’m 25 years old, and I started really taking writing seriously about 2.5 years ago after my Fibromyalgia got so bad that I couldn’t work any longer. I started writing my first novel as a bit of an escape from the physical pain, and also to prove to myself that I could still do something productive. I’ve been writing ever since.

Most of what I write tends to be fantasy-based, and a bit on the darker side, with just a hint of humor. I’m a big fan of unhappy endings. Bonus points if I can make people cry. Double bonus points if they cry after laughing at the previous page.
Some of my favorite writers are Neil Gaiman, Jonathan Safran Foer, and Stephen King. I also have a completely unhealthy obsession with Harry Potter.
Other random things: I’m from Ohio, U.S. I’ve lived in six different states, but I always seem to end up back in the land of buckeyes. I’ve had a light-up hula hoop in the corner of my room for three years, but I’ve never used it. For unknown reasons, my digestive system has concluded that gluten is the actual devil. For better known reasons, the rest of me has concluded that Pilates are the actual devil. And I appear to have developed an addiction to bidding on penny-auctions on eBay.

Find out more about Styna and her work at her website.

Visit Styna’s NaNoWriMo profile. 


Got a question for the NaNos? Encouragement? Fist pumps? Leave ’em in the comments below. 

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