‘But… didn’t you interview Joanna already?’ I hear you think. Yes, you are absolutely correct; I did! And last week I promised you that I would interview Dark Side of Fiction authors. Writers are very, very busy people, though, and don’t always check their emails. If they’re like me, they get too many a day to check them all out. Not to worry, I’m going to get to them, one way or another :).
In the meantime, let’s find out a bit more about the creative process of this funny, mysterious, and mischievous Mistress…
Mistress Joanna Noor
Hi, I’m Joanna Noor, and when I’m not penning naughty epic fantasy stories, I am also an illustrator, cartoonist, graphic designer, and editor. Unfortunately I can’t divulge my real identity, because I have a successful alternate career as a YA author and children’s picture book artist. However, everything you need to know about me personally can be summed up in one description: I am a cat. Sweet, friendly, mischievous, sometimes scratchy and fierce, a little bit lazy, but very patient and determined when I need to be! I also enjoy having my back scratched.
How has your environment & upbringing colored your writing?
We moved around a lot as a child, so I changed schools often and learned to be very self-sufficient emotionally. I created my own portable worlds, stocked with countless imaginary friends who comforted, amused, and incensed me. My mother is a professional artist and writer, so she was totally cool with that.
If you could tell your younger writing-self anything, what would it be?
Joanna, please focus more on story and characters than style. Style will come as you develop and gain confidence, but no one will want to read your work if you can’t spin a good yarn.
Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?
Spiritual and mental. It’s how I organize my thoughts, it’s how I connect with strangers on an intimate level, and it’s how I make sense of the beautiful mystery and cosmic joke that is life. It’s also how I get to be naughty and subversive.
How long have you been writing?
Since I was old enough to pick up a crayon. Literally.
Pen or typewriter or computer?
Pen for jotting down ideas and sketches, computer for outlining, drafting, and writing my manuscripts.
Do you write alone or in public?
Both. I like to mix it up, working from my office at home, at a library, or sometimes at my favorite coffee shop with a latte close by.
Music or silence?
Music when I’m brainstorming, silence when I’m writing. When I’m writing, I’m actually just dictating a narrating voice in my head (and it usually sounds like Christopher Lee or Ian McKellan). If I can’t hear the voice clearly, I can’t write.
Goals of certain # of words a week or when inspiration strikes?
I try to write 2000-5000 words a day, five days per week, when I’m completing a novel. If I do less, it makes me grumpy.
Do you have any unique or quirky writing habits?
I must have coffee.
Are you a full-time or part-time writer? How does that affect your writing?
I am a full-time author/artist, and doing it full-time for most of my adult life has allowed me to develop into the enthusiastic writer I am.
What are some day jobs that you have held? If any of them impacted your writing, could you please share an example?
As an artist, I have a very visual way of looking at things, and this informs my writing. Readers often remark that my fantasy worlds are very vivid and well-drawn, and that makes me happy. They are very vivid and well-drawn in my imagination, so conveying that is a triumph.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Writing energizes me like nothing else, leaving me buzzing for hours after a successful session. It’s almost post-coital in the way it leaves me feeling warm and happy.
Is your ‘being an author’ a goal achieved or an accident?
Definitely achieved. I work very hard at what I do, from the writing to the packaging, to the presentation and the promotion. It is my passion.
What is your writing style?
I always hated reading first-person narration, but I have completely embraced it with my new books and it works very well. My style is muscular, poetic, playful, and polished.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I’m a history buff and, as mentioned, I have a magpie mind which is very good at hoarding useless facts. I draw upon my extensive wealth of arcane knowledge, and supplement it with Wikipedia articles when required.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
Anywhere from two months to two years. Mostly about two to three months now.
What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
Remaining in my chair and not getting up to play with my cats.
Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?
Sometimes they hijack it, but then I hijack them in the editing phase. My guns are bigger.
How do you select the names of your characters? Are your characters based on real people?
If it makes me laugh or smile, then I know it’s a winner and it goes in. I have a bawdy, totally absurd, and ridiculous sense of humor. Aspects of my characters’ personalities may be based on real people, but their names certainly are not.
When you develop characters, do you already know who they are before you begin writing or do you let them develop as you go?
Definitely a mix of both!
Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
Yes. If you can decipher the clues in my texts, it will lead you to a church in France where you will discover that Christ had a child and . . . oh wait, that’s already been done! Let me think of something else.
What do your plans for future projects include?
Many, many more Khymeera novels/stories, and many stories in my new, top secret series.
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
I have streamlined all my systems and the whole book creation experience is now a well-oiled machine.
What do your fans mean to you?
Everything. Without readers, there would be no completion of the artistic circle, no home for the characters in my stories. I, the author, plant the seed of a tale. You, the reader, give it life and nourish it into a garden. Thank you 🙂
Thank you, Joanna, for letting us know about your writing process. I think many of us are a slave to ‘the coffee’ when writing. And I think your explanation of what fans are to a reader is beautiful!
Next time (yes, there will be a next time!), we will concentrate a bit more on the contents of Mistress Joanna’s books.
Don’t forget her second novel, Sukkubus of Khameera, the sequel to Kock Rider of Khameera, is now available!
You can contact Mistress Joanna Noor via the following Social Media: