Here’s an interview I did recently for Serious Reading! For more information, click the link.
If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?
Pride and Prejudice, hands down. I love Jane Austen so much. I think she was such a firecracker, and the romance between Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy will remain timeless until the end of eternity. I wish I had thought of it!
When did it dawn upon you that you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve always loved writing. When I was a kid, I won a writing contest here and there, but it really never occurred to me that I wanted to be a writer until my early twenties. At that point I’d already gotten a degree in Political Science and Library Science, so my profession was a bit set in stone. Still, that’s when I started writing books. It just took a few years for anyone to notice them.
Do you aim to complete a set number of pages or words each day?
Generally when the creative juices are flowing or I have a project I’m working on, I like to write 5,000 words a day. Its a few hours’ worth of work, and it spreads out the process so I don’t burn myself out by tapping away at the keyboard for too long.
Have you ever experienced “Writer’s Block”? How long do they usually last?
I don’t really like the term, Writer’s Block. To me, the ideas come or they don’t. I don’t try and force them (too much), but allow them to arrive when they do. This means that there have been years between books for me, as ideas slowly sifted in, only to explode in my brain and fly onto page after page until the book was done. It’s a weird process, but I try not to beat myself up too much if I just can’t come up with the right idea at a certain time. It always comes, eventually.
Any tips you would like to share to overcome it?
Be easy on yourself. If your brain doesn’t want to work at that time, go take a walk—live life. You’d be amazed how much actually going out into the world and observing it and experiencing it can help that flow return.
Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?
I read pretty regularly. My day job right now is Librarian, so books are my life in more ways than one. I love Rick Riordan and of course JK Rowling. There’s so many good YA books, it would be impossible to list them all!
Have you ever let any of your books stew for months on end or even a year?
Absolutely. There are times when I’ll step away from writing completely, but that doesn’t mean that I’m taking a break from being a writer. I’m still always thinking about ways to describe things or stories that could come from the mundane places I see on a regular basis. Just because one isn’t writing, doesn’t mean they aren’t crafting, and I think it’s important to remember that.
How would you feel if no one showed up at your book signing?
I have had a few book signings at this point, and there have only been a few people in attendance. It doesn’t bother me. This is all part of the origin story—a writer must start out humble and unknown before they skyrocket into literary fame. I look forward to being someone’s inspiration someday, and toughing out the stages of anonymity is a part of that. Staying humble once it happens is also important, I think.
Do you read any of your own work?
Of course! I like to finish a piece, then step away for a few days or weeks to forget about it completely. Then, when I feel fresh, I take another look and read it as though it isn’t mine. This helps me stay critical, but also allows me to enjoy the elements of the writing that I liked. It’s important to read your own work—how else will you know if it’s publishable?
Is there anything you are currently working on that may intrigue the interest of your readers?
I have recently signed two contracts for two very different books. One is a modern day retelling of Romeo and Juliet, but it plays out in the current American political climate, with Juliet as a Democrat and Romeo as a Republican. I think it could be a really interesting insight into the current battles going on in our country. The second book is a children’s picture book entitled Hooray, I Farted. It’s going to be epic. Definitely can’t wait to have my name attached to that one.
It is often believed that almost all writers have had their hearts broken at some point in time, does that remain true for you as well?
I think it’s hard to find a person over thirty who hasn’t had their heart broken, so yeah, that is true. It’s great though, in the end. I wouldn’t know how to describe pain if I didn’t feel it myself, and that level of empathy is vital for exceptional writing. I hope that I’m able to give it justice, when using my own experience to describe certain sensations.
Poets and writers in general, have a reputation of committing suicide; in your opinion, why is that the case?
I think poets and writers are very empathetic people. We feel very strongly, and we’re able to use words to transcribe that emotion into something others can also experience. That being the case, being able to feel emotions so deeply has major downsides—the world can be a very dark and negative place. It is for that reason that I think writers can succumb to suicidal thoughts perhaps more easily than other people.
Is it true that anyone can be a writer?
Honestly, I don’t think so. As much as anyone can be an actor or a singer or a professional football player, anyway. There is an element of natural talent that comes with anything, but there is also an ability to grow a skillset to get to that point, so I think if you believe in your heart of hearts that you are meant to be a writer, you simply must do whatever it takes to get to a competitive level, then rule the world. Anyone can write. Not everyone can be a writer.
They say books die every time they are turned into a movie; what do you think?
I disagree. I think it’s cool to see art transformed into different mediums, and I truly enjoy watching the film versions of my favorite books. I might not agree with all the artistic decisions that are made, but I like to enjoy the films for what they are—a tribute to excellent writing. Also, the author gets a boost every time they get a movie released, and I’m always in favor of authors’ success. This is a dream for many writers, so I don’t see it as a negative thing at all.
Do you believe it is more challenging to write about beliefs that conflict with the ones you hold yourself?
At times, yes. However, this goes back to that whole empathy thing. I do my best to see things from all perspectives. Everyone has a motive for believing the way they do, and being able to step outside of one’s self and trying to understand that belief not only makes you a better writer, but a better person as well. It’s important to understand that differences do not make one side evil and the other good all of the time. There are a lot of good people out there who believe very differently than I do, but I can understand why they hold that belief—I simply disagree. This was especially true when I wrote Romeo and Juliet. Having to represent both sides of the political spectrum was an interesting challenge for me.
Are you satisfied with your success?
At present, yes. I believe that I am on the writer’s journey. They say that only 2% of people who try to get published actually succeed, so that’s nothing to turn a nose up at. Obviously my dream would be to make enough to write full time as a novelist, but that is another part of the story, and I’m not quite there yet. All in good time. So far it’s been a great chapter in my life.
Did the thought to give up writing ever occur to you?
Sometimes. I think most writers live with crushing self-doubt that makes them want to throw it all away. You go through years of rejection, which is tough on anyone. Writers pour their souls into their stories, and then they have to take those emotions and translate them into the business world of publishing. It’s extremely difficult. It’s a process that takes years, and likely more than one novel, until one finally gets that offer for publication. So yeah, I’m sure there were times I wanted to give it all up. In the end, I just couldn’t. I knew this is what I was meant to do, and I’m going to see it through to the bloody end.
Have you ever considered writing an autobiography?
I have written a fictional book that is very loosely based on my childhood. A few publishers are considering it now, but I think I’d rather leave that story to fiction. There are some bridges I’m not quite ready to burn.
Which book would you want adapted for the silver screen?
I would absolutely love to see Past Lives as a film. I think it’s so dynamic with the changes in lifetimes, and I would be so interested to see how that would translate in the movie world. Hint hint, movie producers!
What advice would you like to pass on to young writers of today that is unconventional but true?
Don’t get into writing if you’re incapable of patience. For most people it will take decades—not even just years, decades—to get your writing in print. During that time you will face mountains of rejection letters, criticism of your work, and people telling you you’re wasting your time. Sometimes they might be right. The thing about being a writer is, you have to take all of that in and allow it to make you better. Use all of it, the time, the tears, the critics, to improve your skills so that you can prove them all wrong when you’re a smashing success. I wish the best of luck to anyone who wants to enter this profession. It certainly is not for the faint of heart!