Ask an Author #3 – Looking Back

What is your favorite childhood book?

I loved books as a kid so it’s hard to choose which would be my favorite. Books I liked included Dr. Seuss, Robert Munsch, Little Critters, Berenstain Bears, Franklin, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, Jillian Jiggs, The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, I Spy. As I got older, I read a lot of Mary-Kate and Ashley books (I grew up in the 90s) and I loved The Boxcar Children, Wayside School.

When you were young, did you ever see writing as a career or full-time profession?

No, I’ve always seen it more as a hobby or something to get my thoughts down. I’ve never really seen it as a career for myself.

Given the chance to live your life again, what would you change about yourself?

The first thing that comes to mind is having confidence in myself growing up. There are so many things I quit or didn’t try because I didn’t have confidence in myself or I was too worried about what other people thought of me. Most of my preteen and teenage years, as well as some of my early twenties, were defined by my lack of confidence.

Had any of your literary teachers ever tell you growing up that you were going to become a published writer one day?

I don’t remember anyone actually telling me this but on one of my grade school assignments; my teacher wrote that I should be a writer.

Were your parents reading enthusiasts who gave you a push to be a reader as a kid?

Both my parents enjoy reading and I was encouraged to be a reader. I learned to read before I started school and my mom would read to me and bring us to the library. We had a lot of books growing up and my parents still have a bunch of the ones we read as kids.

How do you think being a writer has helped you as a person?

I think it has helped me understand that everyone has a story and I don’t know what has led people to a certain point. I don’t know their backstory or what is going through their minds. So in a way, I think being a writer has made me more compassionate towards people.

Did the thought to give up writing ever occur to you?

All the time. There have been times when I’ve done it temporarily but I always come back.

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Ask an Author #2 – Writing Process

Here is the second installment of the Ask an Author series.

Do you have a set schedule for writing, or are you one of those who write only when they feel inspired?

I write mainly when I feel inspired but if I have a book on the go, I try to set times for myself to sit down and write. I usually try to make word count goals but I’m not as regimented as I know some other writers are.

How hard was it to sit down and actually start writing something?

If I’m feeling unmotivated, it is very hard to sit down and write which occurs, unfortunately, more often than not. I sometimes open up my work in progress and sit staring at the screen for a while before closing it and plan to try later. Other times when I get in the zone, I can write for hours.

What, according to you, is the hardest thing about writing?

Writing. The hardest part of writing for me is actually writing. Most people can come up with book ideas. But not everyone can sit and write for an extended period of time or they give up after a while. Writing chapter after chapter and then having to edit and do rewrites is not easy. As a self-published author, I also do all the formatting, cover design, writing the description, etc. yet the hardest part is still writing the actual book. Figuring out how the plot goes and character development is still easier for me than actually sitting down and writing it out, following it where it leads.

What would you say is the easiest aspect of writing?

For me, the easiest aspect of writing is coming up with the idea for a book. I don’t always know how to make it work for a book but ideas will often pop into my head at random times. The main premise of the last book I wrote came while I was shelf-reading at the library I work at.

Do you need to be in a specific place or room to write, or can you just sit in the middle of a café full of people and write?

I can write almost anywhere as long as I’m motivated enough, but I prefer if there aren’t too many distractions.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

On average, it takes me about 1-2 years to write a book.

How do you select the names of your characters?

I don’t have a set way I select character names. Sometimes I’ll choose a name based on a character’s traits or if I want a specific meaning. Other times it’s a name that I hear in a show, movie, book, etc. that I liked and thought it would fit with my character. The majority of the time it involves me browsing through baby names to find one that fits the ethnicity, age, and personality of the character.

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

I think the hardest part of writing from the opposite sex is making it sound like them. In my case making him talk, think, and respond like a man. But I think that happens whenever you have a character that isn’t like you. You need to get inside their head and write how they would think and respond instead of how you would personally. Their personality, thoughts, background, etc. are not your own so you can’t project your own thoughts and ideas onto them.

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

It depends on the book I’m writing. For my latest book, I didn’t have to do any research as it was based on my life and things I already knew. For the book I’m currently writing and for my second book, I’ve had to do more research. My research usually involves finding resources online and in books from reliable sources. (My training in library research and my work in a college library helps with this.) I spend as much time as I need to understand the topic I need and will often do more research if something comes up in the book that I hadn’t thought of when researching or I need more knowledge.

Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you?

I like to set a plot so I have an idea of where the story is going but if the story heads in a different direction as I’m writing then I will follow where it leads and adjust my plot accordingly.