Music: I remember going on a field trip to a symphony when I was very young, perhaps first grade. I was completely astounded. I had never realized that so many instruments could combine to make music altogther. I'd heard guitar, banjo, and piano before individually, but the symphony had been way beyond my imagination. It was thrilling and perspective changing.
The ball: 200 pages of build-up and at last we get to the ball. Will it be heavenly? Horrible? What are you expecting at this point?
Miri jokes, pg 212: Ah, Miri. When I told my sister a few years ago that I was going to be interviewed on NPR's Weekend Edition, her advice to me was, "Don't try to be funny." She well knows my tendency to make jokes that people end up not understanding and the awkwardness that invariably follows. My husband tells me I do it too straight-faced. I need to wink or something I guess, that visual :).
Food, pg 216: I love descriptions of food. Food is such a great way to ground the reader in a particular culture. Somehow in this book I'd neglected to name any foods at all. My editor noticed this (she was a professional chef for a time) and gave me that note around draft 3. It was fun to research old Scandinavian foods.
Miri and Steffan's conversation: Pivotal moment! What's your opinion of the prince now? What do you think will happen?
Zena Parks asks, "How do you manage to push through the first draft without getting bogged down/distracted by wanting to go back and fix everything?" I give myself daily writing goals, usually 1000 words/day. I have to reach that, and if I'm going back to rewrite I won't have time. I have to be very firm with myself. First drafts are hard for me, usually the hardest part.
Alyshkalia asks, "I thought it was interesting that Miri became academy princess through a vote, rather than because she was actually the best in the class.Were you always planning to have it happen like that? What were your reasons behind it happening that way?" I can't remember! I just went back to the first chapter [EDIT: whoops, I meant first draft]. In that version, Miri simply had the highest score and the scene on the hillside with the girls quarry-speaking to each other didn't occur. How boring and meaningless.
Isobel asks, "When you start writing a book, I guess you don't know your character extremely well. In later drafts, when you get really familiar with the character and are editing with that in mind, is there a temptation to put the whole character out there right away?" I try to ground my writing in that old adage "Show don't tell." As a reader, I so much prefer to learn about a character by what they do than have the narrator just declare, "Miri used her quick wits and humor to hide her unhappiness, had a strong sense of justice and a tendancy to act rashly" or something. It's sort of insulting to the reader, as if we couldn't figure that out on our own if the writer just showed us the character in action.
Genevieve Ford asks, "Did you see this list on NPR.org? Goose Girl is on it." Yes! Thank you to those who nominated Goose Girl. I went to vote and was tempted to use up all 10 of my votes before getting through the B's. Go vote! SO many excellent books.