Evie Manieri Guest Post
To celebrate the release of Blood's Pride, Evie Manieri's debut novel and launch of The Shattered Kingdoms, Evie provided us with this guest post.
"How has your time in the theater and acting influenced your writing?"
The time I spent studying and working in the theater was a fantastic part of my life, and I’m so grateful to have had that opportunity. The experience of creating a physical as well as a mental and emotional reality for a character was incredibly valuable, but there’s a lot more to it than just what you see on the stage. As an actor, you have to craft a backstory that will give the audience the sense that the moment they’re witnessing comes from a real, lived experience. You also have to understand your character’s arc so that the audience can connect with the journey made from the beginning to the end of the play. Looking back, I believe that’s why my perspective on story-telling remains intensely character-focused - something that I hope comes through in BLOOD’S PRIDE, even though the conflict takes place on a large scale.
I see the influence in other ways as well. My day-to-day writing process is a lot like a rehearsal process. I frame the scene, the basic action and the key dialogue, and then run it over and over again in my mind and on the page, trying different things, playing all of the parts with equal authenticity, making sure each character’s reactions come from a genuine place and aren’t forced to serve the plot. It’s a process of experimentation. There’s a little director in my head saying things like, “Okay, try it again, but remember this is the first time you’ve seen each other in months,” or “Let’s see what happens if you draw your sword there.” I work until the scene resonates and feels right. It’s horribly inefficient, really, but so far it’s the only way I’ve found that works for me.
Speaking of directors, I’m happy to say that the ability to take direction – to hear constructive criticism without becoming defensive, even when it’s painful or embarrassing – prepared me very well for the editing process. I was already accustomed to trusting people to tell me whether or not my intentions were getting across, so I found the editing process exciting and extremely rewarding. Of course, it helps that I get to work with amazing editors: Stacy Hill at Tor Books, and Jo Fletcher at Jo Fletcher Books in the UK.
I’m sure there’s much more, but I would say the most valuable lesson I learned in my acting days was the necessity for making big, bold choices and living with the consequences. Unlike a lot of actors, I loved to audition. Something about the challenge of taking a little scrap of a scene, making a few quick decisions and then just laying it on the line for a bunch of strangers was exhilarating. I learned early on that playing it safe only succeeds when you happen to fit the image the people on the other side of the table have in their heads. If not, your best bet is to show them an angle they might not have considered and hope you make a connection. And you know, those five minutes in that room are likely the only chance you’re ever going to get to play that role, so why not play the ever-loving sh*t out of it? I feel the same way now about writing. I try never to back off from the bold choices, and just have faith that I’ll make that connection more often than not.
Web site: eviemanieri.com