Spitting on the Dewey Decimal System: A Writer’s Confession
When the copacetic Kat suggested that I write about my shelving preferences for books, I blanched. My secret would be out. The devastating skeleton in the bookcase that I’ve been trying to hide for so long would be let loose into the world for derision. No more closing the door and hoping no one asks to take a peek. My shame would be revealed. And that shame is… I have no shelving preference.
Yes, it’s true. My name is K.A. Barker and I’m a writer with a collection of books that defies categorisation. (Hi, K.A. Barker!) Want to borrow How I Live Now? It’s between the dog-eared copy of Wuthering Heights and Terrible Tudors. Want to take a gander at the illustrated Grimms’ Fairy Tales? You could dig around for it in my bottom shelf along with the dusty Disney on Ice programs I’ve held on to since I was a kid for some unknown reason, or you could take a lucky dip in one of the many cartons I haven’t yet unpacked from my move last September. My categorisation system is the Voynich Manuscript: experts are still undecided whether it’s possible to decode or if it was just made up to mess with future generations.
And yet I’m making headway. My DVD collection is pristinely divided up into Movies/TV Shows/Musicals/Disney/Cirque Du Soleil, with each of these groups alphabetically arranged in such anal retentiveness that it would make my school teachers proud. So I know it’s theoretically possible for my books to be equally well organised, but there’s something thrilling about not knowing what I’m going to stumble upon in my search for the thesaurus.
It reminds me of my methods of plotting and how they’ve changed throughout my life. When I first started (beyond the one-page masterpieces that eight-year-old me lovingly abandoned), I was all for letting the creativity of chaos spew onto the page like the aftermath of an over-indulgence at an All-You-Can-Eat buffet. Nothing was too ludicrous. Good character suddenly decides to go bad? Sure, why the heck not. Killer robots interrupt my serious family drama? Well, clearly the plot was demanding them. Everything goes, and it often did. This was helped by my participation in NaNoWriMo, a wonderful writing project that, in my hands, focused less on coherency and more on late night desperation-fuelled writing binges filled to the brim with the afore-mentioned zombies and far too much breaking of the fourth wall. But this absurdity held the seeds of something incredibly liberating. It felt so amazing to be able to just write solely for me, to not have to worry about story structure but to lose myself in the joy of pure creation.
Of course, this produced a finished book that made about as much sense as Adventure Time. Now that I actually want readers to be able to follow my plots, I’ve started obsessively structuring them before I write a word. I know where each story beat is going to hit, and who’s going to be the moustache-twirling villain before they utter their first monologue. And there’s a certain joy in this as well. There’s something immensely satisfying in seeing the jigsaw pieces come together. It’s a puzzle: figuring out at which point I need to include some action, where the characters need a breather, how I should fit it all together to come up with a book that will (hopefully!) take readers on a wild but satisfying ride.
So I’ve decided that there’s room for both ways of thinking. I can gleefully shelve Abarat next to The Zombie Survival Guide while obsessively ordering Quidam, Saltimbanco and Varekai with soldier-like precision. And while I might line up my plot points like dominoes ready to fall … is the world really going to end if I add a horde of marauding flamingos?
Most people believe the best way to forget someone is to throw them down a well. Or lock them in a room with eight keys, or bury them at a crossroad in the thirteenth hour. But they’re wrong. The best way to forget someone is for them never to have existed in the first place.
When sixteen-year-old Tuesday wakes from sleep for the first time, she opens her eyes to a world filled with wonder – and peril. Left with only a letter from the person she once was, Tuesday sets out to discover her past with the help of her charming and self-serving guide, Quintalion.
Along the way she runs into one-legged mercenaries, flying cities, airships, and a blind librarian. But danger lurks amidst the steam. Tuesday will need all her wits to survive long enough to find out who she is and her connection with the mysterious Book of Days: a book that holds untold power …
To celebrate the cover reveal of The Book of Days, I’m giving you not one, not two, but three ways to win some awesome swag:
1. Let me hear your dulcet chirps as you spread the news on twitter. Talk about The Book of Days, its snazzy cover, the giveaway. Heck, you can even mention that I’m the world’s worst shower singer for extra brownie points. Make sure you include my handle in the tweet or I’m not going to be able to see your amazing 140 characters.
2. I’ve got eight lovely blogs covering my cover reveal (ew, bad pun). Just so that I’m not making you see the same cover in eight different places, I’ve asked a different question on each of the blogs. Once you’ve answered the questions, email me your answers at k.a.barkerwrites [at] gmail [dot] com for a chance to win a prize.
3. My blog is gathering tumbleweeds. It’s making me cry harder than those creepy 1970s pictures of kids crying, but you can help me. Check out my articles, leave a non-spammy comment, and you’ll enter into the draw to win a prize. Bribery… what’s that?
And what’s the super awesome amazing no-holds-barred prize?
The lucky tweeter, question answerer, and commenter will each win:
1. A signed copy of The Book of Days when it’s released in September.
2. A $30 gift voucher to the bookstore of your choice so you can feed this strange reading addition.
3. A hug if we ever happen to meet, to be delivered either a) bone-crunchingly hard, or b) awkward family reunion.
And Cuddlebuggery’s question is:
When is The Book of Days being released?
a) At the summer solstice with a first quarter moon at precisely 11:11pm.
b) September 1, 2014
c) Never, suckers!