I’m Angela Oliver, also known as Lemurkat. I’ve been fascinated in animals ever since I was very small – possibly because my Nana used to take me to feed the ducks, and my family always had pets. I developed a passion for birds in Primary school, which I carried on into High School and University – where I studied zoology and psychology. I also love drawing – and used to get told off in school for drawing while the teacher was talking (because I concentrate better if my hands are busy, honest!) and I have always enjoyed writing. I write what I enjoy reading – which is animal stories, fantasy, things that are a little oddball and quirky (or at least, I hope they are). I can’t write poetry anymore (I “grew out” of that phase) and my short stories turn into novels. I very rarely write human protagonists – most of my recent stories have featured a strong zoological or environmental influence.
I have no idea when I decided I wanted to write. It was probably at University – where I was in charge of the Roleplaying clubs magazine – which meant I had to write most of it myself, since contributions were slim. I just enjoyed writing, and sharing it with people. I started on fanfiction – Pokemon and Elfquest, and then dabbled into original stuff – including the occasional novella commission. That was interesting, to say the least! So, I guess in a way I’ve always been an author – at least in sharing my stories with the world. I wrote my first epic fantasy in my first year at University, and my first novel at age 13, I believe. I still have everything I have written, although I dread that when I am rich and famous and dead some enterprising soul will find them on my hard drive and publish them.
The way the characters come to life, and take the story on their own shoulders. The way they twist the plot, doing unexpected things that actually make the plot work better, even if I’m half wanting to yell at them “Aroha, get out of there, stop doing that, it’s only going to get you into more trouble!” I also love receiving feedback when people compliment my characters, and ask me questions like “did Aroha and Maru get married?” Or my parent’s 6 year old neighbour, informing his mother that he’d seen the “Whiteback gang” at school (my magpie bullies). So, bringing the characters to life, shaping them and having them become “real”.
Motivating myself when the plot has come to a standstill. Realising that I’ve written 4000 words that are totally unnecessary to the plot and need to be cut out. Even though they’re good words and some funny stuff happened, because they serve no purpose to the greater plot. My latest novel “Tail of Two Scions” which I worked on for NaNo 2011 was almost cut in half after the end of the month. Almost 20k words relegated to the “cuts” files.
Two novels – both self-published via Createspace and Kindle Direct Publishing (Amazon), also available as ebooks on Smashwords and Kobo.com.
“Aroha’s Grand Adventure” is the tale of a young weka, who is kidnapped from her home in Greymouth and taken to Christchurch. Finding herself lost, alone and far from home, she begins a grand adventure as she walks home – facing many dangers and making new friends along the way.
“A Midsummer Knight’s Quest” is about a goblin – a little scaly lizard-rat, who finds an egg and is about to take it home to feed to his Hive Mother when it hatches, and the chick imprints on him. From that point on, his entire life changes, as he makes friends – real friends – for the first time in his short life and then has to fight to save their woodland home from an evil developer.
Both are Children’s books, what I would call “Middle Grade” or “Older Elementary”, probably best for ages 9+ although children as young as 7 have read “Aroha’s Grand Adventure” or had it read to them. “Knight’s Quest” is probably a little more advanced, comprehension wise as it has multiple PoV characters.
My third novel – still in its proof stage is my “epic fantasy with lemurs”. It is called “Fellowship of the Ringtails” and I am currently procrastinating on editting it by deciding to make an entire deck of tarot cards. It’s a bit like “Game of Thrones” but furrier. And with a lot less sex.
My Amazon page is here:
Don’t plot your structure too tightly. If you do, you don’t give your characters room to breathe and grow. However, do have some idea of the direction of the plot and try to avoid it running off on a wild tangent. If you do, you may have to “kill” some of your “babies”. To avoid feeling too ruthless, store their “remains” in another document, so you can poach the best bits from it at a later date. Or release it is a short story set in the same world. Do not get distracted by searching google for hours seeking information on whether a weka would die or become sick if it ate a cigarette, or apple pips, but do learn that chocolate can be fatal to birds, just as it for cats and dogs. Research is important, but if you’re spending more than ten minutes trying to find the answer to some unimportant action you’ve just written, it might be better to not have her eat the cigarette at all! Also, you may find yourself watching videos of people fishing for wekas.
Disconnecting your internet can be a great way to actually get some writing done. Or take your laptop to somewhere outside of wi-fi range.
Oh, and set a deadline. If your story is flowing – then all is well and you will write pages, but if you allow yourself to become blocked and do not attempt to fight your way through that block, you will end up with a 95,000 unfinished manuscript. This is why I enjoy participating in NaNoWriMo – one month is a good time limit and 1,667 words per day an achievable goal – as long as you remain motivated.
Doing what the characters tell me too, and getting their story out there. My characters are all like my children – somewhat unruly children – and they all have their stories, and I want to tell them and share them. All I can hope is that someone will read them and enjoy them.
This is a hard one. I think it has made me more dramatic – and hopefully a bit more interesting. My research has led me to learn about all sorts of random stuff. Maybe it has also made me a little more confident. Ultimately though, I think writing is so much a part of me that trying to say what I would be like if I were not an author, illustrator, reader and dreamer would be like asking a sparrow how being able to fly has influenced it as a bird. I do tend to dissect what I’m reading a lot though, especially self-published kindle stories. I believe it has made me more critical as a book reviewer. And rather more scornful of the success of what I would consider poorly written books in the mainstream. On the other paw, I would hardly say that I am writing high class literary fiction, but at least my characters are interesting.