Ten Questions About Wild Card, By Jamie Wyman
I am geeked when someone I’ve been talking to on THE SOCIAL MEDIAS for a while suddenly up and has a book deal and then, holy crap, an actual book. Especially a book that maybe has origins from one of the terribleminds flash fiction challenges?! Holy crap! Such is the case here, and so I am very excited to have Jamie Wyman at terribleminds to talk about her new book, Wild Card:
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF: WHO THE HELL ARE YOU?
Who am I? I am the terror that flaps in the night. I am the Bee Girl. I am a college drop-out who bet it all on Blue Man Group. I am the mother-fucking Phoenix. Spinner of fire. Drummer of drums. The Pajamazon. Omnipotent despot to all things peachy. I am Jamie Wyman.
Ahem, sorry. Guess I got a little carried away. Anyway, I’m Jamie—aka Blue. I write stories. Some are scary. Some are twisted. Some are sweet or pensive. All of them have some element of humor to them. In my life I’ve been a waitress, teacher, fire spinner/eater, writer/director of a performance troupe, corporate shill, that girl who dances like a hippy at Dave Matthews Band concerts, and a stay-at-home mom. I prefer careers that mean I get to wear pajamas all day. I like chai and have an unholy crush on Tom Hiddleston.
GIVE US THE 140-CHARACTER STORY PITCH:
Trickster gods are playing poker to win Cat Sharp’s soul. Her only help in winning it back is a deliciously snarky satyr. Wackiness ensues.
WHERE DOES THIS STORY COME FROM?
One thing you need to know about me is that I love Trickster gods. Maui, Puck, Loki, Coyote, Anansi… all of ‘em. I’ve always loved the mythology surrounding them. Their fingerprints are all over my life. Just when you think something’s going your way, they throw in a plot twist. You can either freak out about it, or laugh and move on.
Anyway, several years ago I had the idea that I wanted a typical black-velvet garage sale painting of the trickster gods of various pantheons playing a game of Hold ‘Em. Since I suck at the whole painting thing, I decided to try to make this read with my medium: words. So in 2011 I wrote a piece called “Ante Up” (for one of your flash challenges, actually) as a sort of proof of concept. The idea had legs and so I let it simmer a bit.
Around the same time I was toying with a character named “Candice Sharp” and wanted to do an urban fantasy story with her. Mainly I wanted a character named C. Sharp so I could play with musical elements. Eventually the ideas collided and I changed Candice to Catherine because I couldn’t stand the thought of a main character being called “Candy” at any time. Yes, the name “Cat” is ubiquitous in urban fantasy right now, but other reasons for the name change made themselves clear as I outlined the series arc. I decided to throw Cat into the middle of the poker game and bam: the story was born.
HOW IS THIS A STORY ONLY YOU COULD’VE WRITTEN?
It took a special kind of insanity to cook this one up.
For starters, I truly love these characters. Cat is quiet compared to Marius, but the whole gang talks to me… okay, Marius won’t shut up. It’s a miracle I get anything done with him going on and on and on about how awesome he is. But they play in my head and it’s so damn fun! I like watching them interact with one another. Torturing them—especially Marius—gives me immense joy.
Ultimately, though, this book comes from my reverence of myth and demented love of trickster deities. Pairing those figures with technomancy, Las Vegas and music came very naturally for me—I used to work for an agency heavily pimping vacations to the Strip. My tribe is mostly comprised of tech and gamer geeks, and I spent more than half of my life studying/playing/writing music.
This is a cocktail that comes from my own special brew of crazy. Sure, other people in the loony bin could probably put these things together to knit a potholder or something during arts-and-crafts time, but ultimately, my special sauce is my passion for all of the above. What you get out of that mixture of love, passion, knowledge and childlike schizophrenia is my voice. Accept no substitutes.
WHAT WAS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT WRITING WILD CARD?
Trusting myself to let go and just tell the damn story. That’s my biggest stumbling block when drafting a story…just diving in and swimming around, letting it happen. My brain is often my worst enemy. Once it starts shouting at me, the avalanche begins and confidence slides down to the seabed. It didn’t help that a few months prior to writing the rough draft my confidence had taken a pretty swift kick in the pink parts with a snafu with my previous agent suddenly leaving the biz without telling a soul. GOOD TIMES! With WILD CARD, getting back on the horse, trusting the process and letting the story happen was damn hard.
WHAT DID YOU LEARN WRITING WILD CARD?
This wasn’t the first novel I wrote, but WILD CARD is my publishing debut, so the things I’ve learned about making a word file into an actual factual book are legion.
From a writing standpoint, I’ve learned a lot with this book in terms of crafting a series. This is the opening act in a 5-story arc I call “Etudes in C#”. I’ve seen other authors succeed at their long game. I’m a huge fan of Babylon 5 (which is a master class in series writing). But, this was the first time I went into a project knowing not just where I wanted this story to go, but the others that spawn from it. There are many nuances to telling a fuller story over time and not giving away major reveals that this book helped me understand. Managing to keep the pacing of this story while juggling the events yet to come… yeah, that’s been a big thing. And that knowledge will continue to shift as I get deeper into the series.
I think the most important take-away for me, though, has been confidence. In the 2+ years I’ve been working on this book, my fraud complex has greatly diminished. That fear of being found out for the talentless, ass-dragging sea creature that I really am is no longer a daily—or even monthly—thing. I’ve grown to a place where I trust that I “belong” here. That I have written something worth reading.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT WILD CARD?
I fucking love these characters. Seriously, they are so much fun to have in my head. Catherine is a smart, flawed woman who loves her bacon and takes no bullshit. And she’s an unrepentant geek. She’s someone I’d hang with. Marius is, frankly, one of my favorite characters I’ve ever worked with. He’s snarky as hell, his Charisma modifier is through the roof and he’s got one hell of a monkey on his back. He makes Cat’s life difficult and in turn I give him no end of shit. Then there’s the pantheon of gods I get to play with. And a ginger technomancer with his own secrets. Everyone in this book is so colorful and loaded with their own backstories, mythologies and foibles that they make writing them a true joy.
WHAT WOULD YOU DO DIFFERENTLY NEXT TIME?
Take Frankie’s advice and relax. Even with another novel and more stories under my belt since I wrote WILD CARD, I still need to chill the fuck out and just be in the drafting moment. I’m an editing fiend and I *do* enjoy story creation, but I can tell a difference between the results of when I’m writing tense (always looking for what’s wrong or questioning it) vs when I’ve written loose and fearless. Gotta be more like the Dude.
GIVE US YOUR FAVORITE PARAGRAPH FROM THE STORY:
“And all I have to do is push,” he said.
I felt the sting of something pricking my belly and looked down to see that Marius had drawn his sword. Its point puckered the fabric of my T-shirt, blade gleaming wickedly in the moonlight. Gulping down a ball of fear and sucking in my stomach, I pulled my eyes back up to meet his. His expression didn’t waver.
“Do I have your attention?” he said with a simmer.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU AS A STORYTELLER?
Well, within the C# universe, I’ve got some work to do. Book 2 is done and ready to be pitched to the publisher. Book 3 is at about the 50% mark. Books 4 & 5 are sketched. There are some shorts in that playground, too. One is finished, another is still cooking in brain juice.
Outside of that, I’ve got a few short projects that I’m shuffling around. Also working on my first comic—a collaboration with artist Emma Lysyk (www.emacartoon.com). Other stories begging me to write them include a Steampunk Wizard of Oz book, a piece centered on a hospice chaplain, and another that takes place at Porn Star Fantasy Camp. I’m a busy girl.