Thursday, September 10, 2015

Getting to Know You -- Interview With the Author

What were you like at school?  I was very quiet, very shy. I had a hard time opening up around other people. I was always the smart kid in class, and I was poor, plus I liked older music, which made me the target of bullies. I was definitely not one of the popular kids. 
Were you good at English? English was always my best subject. 
What are your ambitions for your writing career? To be successful; to tell my stories. 
Which writers inspire you? Christopher Pike, L. Frank Baum, Sylvia Plath, Ann M. Martin, Caroline Haywood
So, what have you written? Ordinary World,  a novel; Happy Halloween: 31 Poems in Celebration of Halloween, The Pumpkin Fair, Happy Thanksgiving: 20 Poems in Celebration of Thanksgiving, which are children's stories; Fragments of the Moon, a collection of poetry, and 13 Frighteningly Fun Halloween Games for Kids: Ideas, tips, and tricks for little ghouls, co-authored with Melissa Spicer. 
Where can we buy or see them? All of my titles are available on Amazon. 
What are you working on at the minute? I'm currently working on two novels, tentatively titled What About the Twinkie? which is a tragicomedy, and The Wasteland, which is an alternate look at the afterlife. I'm also in the process of finishing up illustrations for another children's book, called Fairy Christmas
What genre are your books? Children's/YA
What draws you to this genre? I can clearly remember being a kid, so my characters are usually pretty young. I have a hard time writing about adult characters; adult life is just so boring to me. 
Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book? I wrote Ordinary World with Ewan McGregor in mind to play Sera. I think an unknown actress would have to play Sherrie. Uncle John was inspired by John Candy, who obviously wouldn't be able to play the role as he's been dead for over 20 years. 
How much research do you do? I try to be very thorough in my research, when research is needed. There's nothing I hate more than reading a novel where the author got their facts wrong.
Have you written any other novels in collaboration with other writers? I worked on a novel for over a decade with my sister, who is also a writer. Unfortunately that book was never completed. We came up with a couple other ideas for stories, too, which I hope to one day write together. I've also worked on a couple projects with my friend (and fellow writer) Melissa Spicer. 
When did you decide to become a writer? I have always written stories and have always been a storyteller, even before I knew how to write. I wrote my first book in third grade, and that same year I won first prize for a class writing competition; I remember my third grade teacher announcing to the class that I was going to be a writer when I grew up. But it wasn't until I was about 11 years old that it occurred to me that maybe I could someday make a living from writing stories. Back then I wanted to be a romance novelist.
Why do you write? I write because I have stories to tell. Also, because my life would be pretty meaningless if I didn't!
What made you decide to sit down and actually start something? The story was there. With Ordinary World, the story had been forming for a while, but it wasn't until the character Sera made himself known that I knew it was time to sit down and write it. Basically I decided one day that it was now or never -- if I didn't get it out now, there was a chance the story would never be written, so I sat down and started writing it. 
Do you write full-time or part-time? Writing full time was a lot easier before I had bills to pay! As a teenager and as a college student in my early 20s, I definitely wrote full time. I don't think a day went by that I didn't write something. Nowadays I write when the mood hits me. I also work as a freelance writer and editor, so a lot of my writing these days is non-creative. I write when I have time and when I feel like it.
Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured? My day is structured around doing freelance work. Now and then inspiration hits me and I'll just HAVE to work on one of my stories. Unfortunately I'm not able to dedicate my entire life to creative writing just yet.
Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand? Most of my writing I do longhand -- I'm less likely to edit as I go along that way!
Where do the your ideas come from? Where do any ideas come from? I honestly don't know. I'll be cooking dinner or doing dishes and suddenly a character is there, babbling to me about her crazy life. Sometimes I find inspiration in old movies and TV shows, or a particular actor might inspire a character. 
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you? I usually have a general idea of what the story is going to be, but I don't out-and-out outline it. Sometimes a story will take on a life of its own and end up being something completely different than what I originally had planned. 
What is the hardest thing about writing? Actually making myself do it. I know all the big name authors say that you can't wait for inspiration to come; you just have to sit down each day and write. I'm still learning to do that! Motivation is something that I lack. 
What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book? I originally wrote Ordinary World in 2005 when I was 21 years old. It was published in 2007 and went out of print in 2014. I always knew I wanted to revise it and republish it. Anyway, once the rights were reverted back to me, I went to start on revisions...well, dumbass me, apparently I didn't save a final draft anywhere, or if I did I had lost it. (It's possible I have the final draft saved on a floppy disk, because computers still used those back when I'd originally written it!) I had an earlier draft saved on a flash drive, but that didn't do me much good because it wasn't the final version of the story that had been published. Anyway, I found myself having to retype the manuscript up from scratch, which was a royal pain in the butt. Then I was finally able to make revisions, which wasn't all that difficult...formatting the book for print, however, was another royal pain. So, those were the hardest things about (re)writing Ordinary World.
What is the easiest thing about writing? When a hilarious scene or conversation suddenly pops in my head and I hurry to get it down on paper before I lose it. Writing comes easy then.
How long on average does it take you to write a book? It depends on the book. Ordinary World initially took 2 months to write. I've been working on The Wasteland since 2009, but the story hasn't presented its entire self yet. I worked on a novel with my sister for over a decade (and still haven't finished it.) I've ghostwritten books that only took me a month to write. It really all depends on how much time I have to dedicate to working on the book. 
Do you ever get writer’s Block? Yes. I went about three years without writing in my mid/late 20s. It was horrible. 
Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block? Read, watch movies, listen to music or engage in other activities that inspire you. Eventually the words will come again. 
Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors. I'm a binge reader. I will go through spurts of reading nonstop, and then I'll go for months on end  where I don't feel like reading anything. My favorite authors are Christopher Pike, L. Frank Baum, Sylvia Plath, Ann M. Martin and Caroline Haywood.
For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books? Both. Nowadays I tend to buy more ebooks, because I'm running out of space to store traditional paperbacks. 
What book/s are you reading at present? We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach
Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you? I proofread and edit for a living, so I do those things myself. 
How do you relax? I watch movies. A lot of movies. 
What is your favourite book and why? Remember Me by Christopher Pike. I spent most of my adolescence trying to write a story like that of my own; Ordinary World might not exist if not for Remember Me. 
What is your favourite quote?"Where there's life, there's hope." -- John Lennon
What is your favorite movie and why? Ghostbusters -- it's been my favorite since I was a kid, and provided hours of escapism. I wouldn't be who I am today without that movie. I watch it more often than is probably healthy.
What advice would you give to your younger self? Don't stop writing, even when life gets you down.
Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why? In the past I would have said John Lennon, hands down, because I idolized him; he was my hero. But nowadays I'm not so sure. I'd kind of like to meet Harpo Marx, because he seemed like a nice guy. Or maybe John Candy or Harold Ramis. Perhaps George Harrison.
If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why? Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe by Fannie Flagg, just because I really love that book. It's brilliantly written, has just the right amount of comedy and sadness. That's the kind of story I would love to write.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers? Write for yourself. Write for fun. Write because you enjoy it. Worry about publishing your work and making a living off of it later. 
How can readers discover more about you and you work? You can follow me on Facebook or visit me on Amazon.

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