A voracious reader since she was a toddler, and an ordained spiritualist, Tonya Cannariato has now presided over the marriage of her love of reading and her love of writing. She’s lived a nomadic life, following first her parents in their Foreign Service career through Africa, Europe, and Asia, and then her own nose criss-crossing America as she’s gotten old enough to make those choices for herself. She’s currently based in Milwaukee with her three loves: her husband and two Siberian Huskies. She suspects her Huskies of mystical alchemy with their joyous liberation of her muse and other magical beings for her inspiration. She loves to sleep, to watch her interesting dreams, some of which are now finding new life in written form.
What inspires you to write?
My dreams. I’ve been a lucid dreamer since about 2nd grade–when I decided I needed a dream channel-changer to avoid bad dreams. Since then, my subconscious has mastered the art of mashing up the real and the fantastic so I can revisit places I’ve lived and discover hidden things. That’s how my Red Slaves trilogy came into being: The dream was a visit to Moscow, and the discovery was a man who was actually a dragon.
Tell us about your writing process.
I’m mostly a pantser, though I have a visceral understanding of where the story is headed at the outset. The joy of story-writing for me is discovering what the actual ending is. However, with my trilogy, I’m finding I have to be a little more of a planner, so I remember to tie up the various threads along the way. Even so, I find that the twists that can happen along the way make writing to a plan interesting enough to keep me engaged in the process. My real challenge is not to race to the end; I’ve found that’s where my first draft tends to de-evolve into a bare-bones almost-outline because I’m so excited to find out what the end actually IS.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I tend to view my characters more as if I were back in the dream that introduced them to me. I watch their movements, reactions, and interactions as if through a movie lens, so it’s not quite the intrusive voice of a character battering at me I’ve had some writer friends describe. Nonetheless, when I’m in the middle of a writing jag, it can feel as if I’m beginning to inhabit the skin of the character whose viewpoint is driving the action. It’s a fun kind of escapism.
What advice would you give other writers?
Defend your writing time! And commit to it. I have a full-time job and am in school for an MBA in marketing. I’m frustrated that my time is so limited, and yet I push myself to focus, if even only for half an hour, on the next sentence, next paragraph, next page, so I’m able to add at least a few words every week. It’s VERY helpful to me to participate in groups like ROW80 so there’s some kind of public accountability for my goals, and I keep working toward the completion of my next story.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I had been writing on and off since high school, and had had a number of friends tell me I should write a book. For some reason I never trusted my own imagination to be able to produce a story of that length until I read an interview with Stephenie Meyers, in which she said her cycle was inspired by a single scene she’d dreamed. Since I’ve always been an avid reader, and had made Twitter friends with an author/publisher around that time, I screwed up my courage to ask her what she thought of the kernel of my Red Slaves story. She liked it and told me to “go for it.” At which point I had to figure out how to produce a novel. For the first two I wrote, NaNoWriMo was my friend. Then came the editing and revision process. Because my Twitter friend was a small, independent publisher, and she’s been so supportive, I haven’t even looked anywhere else at this point. I keep toying with the idea, but the financial benefits and the close-knit community of indie authors make it hard to consider any other options.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
Given the fusty process involved in Big 6 publishing, the growth of eBooks, and the disruptive nature of self-publishing options like KDP and Smashwords, I suspect more and more authors will choose to avoid the entanglements of restrictive contracts and loss of control of such elements as cover design, title choice, and marketing options that are inherent in the historical publishing process. I think authors who view the process through a professional lens (i.e. editorial help, design help, cover help, etc.) will find a their own success, and that, more than anything, will force additional changes in the distribution and discovery process that traditional publishers have tried to maintain.
What do you use?
Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?
fantasy, scifi, paranormal romance, urban fantasy
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print