Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Little Bit About Ana

Before anyone has a chance to wonder who I am and why I'm here, I thought I'd take the time to post about...well...who I am and why I'm here.

Who are you?
First off, my name is not Ana Bosch. But that's what we'll call me as long as I'm writing m/m fiction. I'm not hiding any deep, dark secrets here, and it'll honestly be pretty easy for anyone to find out my real name. So why the pen name, if it's not a deep, dark secret? Simply because I don't want my work in this genre to get mixed in with my work in other genres.

What do you write?
I write stories that I think are fun. Most tend to be in the fantasy and paranormal genres. As a youngster, I had grand aspirations of writing Literature (with a capital "L"), but I've since realized that I'm nowhere near as serious as you need to be in order to write Literature. Having chosen a career in illustration, writing is now my hobby. And what's the point of a hobby if it's not fun? So I've decided to focus on writing what's fun.

The vast majority of my writing is casual, perhaps a bit eccentric, perhaps a bit campy. My upcoming short story release, The Dragon Tamer, is at the opposite end of my spectrum. It's about as serious as I can go. It's an m/m fantasy romance, to be released in Dreamspinner Press's "Bittersweet Dreams" line.

What writing experience do you have?
I learned everything I know about writing through observation and osmosis. While I took several creative writing classes in college, they were at an art school. So let's face it, they weren't challenging. Fun, certainly. But I can't say that I learned. My last challenging writing class was back in high school, when they had a class that was one step above honors. That was an awesome class.

I read a lot. I write more. I absolutely love typing, so sometimes I write just so I'd have an excuse to type.

What do you read?
I love mysteries, even if they do tend to be a bit formulaic. But my true love is the classics. My favorite books are A Separate Piece, The Catcher in the Rye, The Solitaire Mystery by Jostein Gaardner, and As Meat Loves Salt by Maria McCann. Oh, and of course the Iliad and the Odyssey.

Clearly, I don't write what I read.

So why m/m fiction?
The long answer:
In real life, I'm just about the least romantic person you'll ever meet. But at the same time, I do enjoy stories of people making real connections with each other. (I think I save up all my romantic notions for the theoretical rather than the practical.) However, I absolutely can't stand the artificial and damaging portrayals of gender roles in most heterosexual romantic stories. My feminist nature usually prevents me from enjoying stories of heterosexual love because the depictions of the women just don't jive with me. I'm more picky and critical of female characters than is probably healthy.

One of the things I enjoy about m/m fiction is that you have the freedom to explore a relationship between two equals, without having to convince half your audience that they are in fact equals. (It's one of the most unfair things in the world, but it's the way I feel.) But of course, that's not the only reason.

I do plan on working on some fiction with powerful and compelling female leads, but chances are there will be little to no romance in those stories. Whether in m/m or heterosexual fiction, whether in romance or other genres, I love characters who don't follow a gender stereotype.

The short answer:
Every time I write a story, the dudes always seem to end up together, through no fault of my own. ;)

With all that being said, I'd add that my stories are more plot-driven than romance-driven.

Do you write porn?
I would have to say no. The way I define porn is if the sexual content of a story overshadows the characters enough to turn them into objects. To me, sex scenes are only interesting if I know and care about the characters and understand what's at stake for them.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

How To Read A How To

As some of you may know, in early October I received my first short story contract. Since then, I've been in contact with many other writers and have had the opportunity to learn a lot from them. In a recent conversation with a more experienced author, she told me about her unpleasant experience reading a "how-to" guide to writing. The guide was written by another author whose work I enjoy, and although I knew he'd put out this how-to guide, I never felt inclined to read it. The conversation made me think about why I'd avoided his book, and why I actually tend to avoid most how-to's in general, both in writing and in art.

Would I read a tutorial called "How to use the curves tool in Photoshop" or "How to use an airbrush"? Absolutely! Do I read the Chicago Manual of Style and check out the style guides of any publisher I plan to do business with? Definitely. These are technical skills and guidelines that anyone can share, and I'm always interested in learning them.

But when it comes to creative endeavors--i.e. how to write a novel, how to paint a webcomic page, etc.--I believe that the words "how to" in the title of any book or tutorial should be replaced by "how I." I love checking out step-by-steps and process work of other artists; it's fascinating to see how different we all are, and how other artists' brains work. And sometimes I learn a thing or two that could make my own art better. But when "this is how I do it" turns into "this is how you should do it," there's the potential for trouble.

I'm speaking as someone who loves looking at unique and one-of-a-kind art, and someone who loves reading books that don't follow a formula. I get disheartened every time I see a clique of webcomic artists who share the same style and every time I read a book that I feel like I've already read.

In the field of illustration, there are many valid professional reasons for emulating someone else's style. But the beauty of webcomics, self-published comics, and most novels is that they represent the creative vision of their individual writers and artists.

Unlike the big comic book publishers that choose a story based on marketing directives and hire people with good technical skills to churn them out, webcomics and self-published works come from a more natural origin. They are individual works of art; therefore I believe they shouldn't look like they came out of a corporate cookie cutter.

So technically, the title of this blog should be "How I read a how-to." And the way I do it is I treat it as an autobiography. If there are elements of it that are inspiring, I give them a shot. But I don't follow them step-by-step. I want to draw and write like me, not like the lite version of someone who wrote a tutorial.