When did you discover your talent/need to write?
I was raised with a love of the
written word. As far back as I can remember, I've been writing and reading anything I could get my hands on. The
first non-schoolwork piece of fiction I completed was a novel of the type you might expect from a seventh grader who had already
seen Star Wars at least 50 times. I never showed it to anyone though and I really hope it's not still lurking in
my mom's attic somewhere. It wasn't until college that I created anything I felt good enough about to share.
you decide to write in this genre?
so glad you asked that question. Sitting in a boring class in high school with my friend Chris Green (who is also now
what you call an aspiring writer), I noticed a graphic novel on his desk and swiped it. I'd never heard of Neil
Gaiman or The Sandman series at that point, but my tastes in movies and music always tended to the macabre, so this Death:
The High Cost of Living, piqued my interest. I couldn't put the thing down, and Chris had to wrench it from
my grip when the bell rang. Something about the story just rang true with me, and it was in searching for more like
it that I discovered this entire genre of urban fantasy. Incidentally, I don't pigeonhole my work to just the one
genre, but it is the one that feels the most like home.
much time do you spend writing?
varies. Sometimes I get an idea in my head and I lock myself away for weeks, only grudgingly reporting to my dayjob.
That's a rarity these days though. Now, I spend a few hours here or there making real progress, and a few minutes
a day jotting ideas in my trusty notebooks.
do you submit your work for publication?
really determined by the publications. A lot of them don't accept simultaneous submissions, so most of the time,
you have to wait to get the rejection letter before trying again. Since they tend to average about 8 weeks for turnaround,
I send batches of things out every few months.
you find it difficult to keep going? What is your inspiration to keep going?
Of course it gets difficult. I can be madly in love with a story I'm working on, talk
about it endlessly as if it were my gorgeous new boyfriend, wish with all my might that it would be finished so I could show
it off to the world... but then again, there might be a House, M.D. marathon on tv, and of course the car needs to be cleaned
out, and a friend will be in town, and I really need to catch up on what's going on with Burma these days...
What gets me back on track?
A few magic words do it every time.
What, you want me
to tell you the secret?
Okay, sure, why not? I'm beyond lucky in some of the people who have chosen
to be in my life. They are people who are honest and supportive and genuinely care, and as a result their opinions matter
a very great deal to me. Nobody taught them the words to the spell or when to cast it; these are naturally-gifted enchanters
who always know exactly the right time to say:
I'm proud of you.
I can't wait to read it.
I often wonder if they know how many times their words have been the
only thing standing between a story and its time of death.
Are you an avid reader? What are some of your favorite authors/titles?
Let me put it this way - I don't remember the last time I was only reading
one book at a time. I was probably around 4 years old and absorbed in a Peanuts comic. I mentioned Neil Gaiman
above, and if pressed, would have to cite him as not only my favorite author, but my favorite member of the writing community.
He's an excellent citizen when it comes to his relationship with those who enjoy his work.
For the rest,
I'm all over the map, but there are some books I especially enjoy discussing:
Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.
It's dark and trashy and spooky and mysterious and everything nice!
Sunshine by Robin McKinley. One of
the greatest friendships of my life was built on a foundation of discussing this book.
The Life and Adventures
of Santa Claus by L. Frank Baum. This is my favorite Christmas story, bar none.
Aside from novels, I can't
imagine not owning a copy of Emerson's essays, Robert Frost's poetry, or various teachings of The Dalai Lama.
Have you ever considered self publishing?
Not really. I don't have the time,
resources, or good mental health to be author, publisher, and publicist. If I have a story I want to be available to
the public so badly that I can't wait for an established publication to pick it up, I can post it to my blog.
What has been your worst experience as a writer?
My favorite professor in college, Dr. Imtiaz Habib at Old Dominion University,
is a brilliant and engaging lecturer. I took every class of his I could fit in to my schedule. In his shadow,
I amassed an embarassment of riches in knowledge of Jacobean revenge drama, Shakespeare's clandestine romances, and even
the dreaded Canterbury Tales.
But you know what?
man just did not appreciate my essays with their references to Moon Unit Zappa and The Empire Strikes back. I'd
get back blue books with a single comment taking up the entire cover in red ink: NO!
What has been your best experience as a writer?
That one's easy - once in a while, I get to bring happiness to people I care about.
I couldn't ask for a better paycheck than that.
you knew you would never get published, would you continue to write? Why?
I don't understand the question. It insinuates that this activity is in any
way optional. If I wasn't a writer, I'd just be a girl with other people and voices in her head, and there's
a different word for that.
would you give to aspiring writers like yourself?
To ask somebody else!
I went the route of a B.A. in English, but that is by
far not the only way to get yourself among others who will workshop with you, offer advice, proofread and critique your work,
and alternately commiserate with and congratulate you as you figure things out. During November especially, writing
groups abound. Go to NaNoWriMo.org and find your local chapter. Hit up the rec. center and see if they offer workshops.
Whatever you do, just get used to sharing your work. It can be an intensely emotional experience, especially the first
time you send your brain-baby out into the world, and having a network of support is essential.
If you are
truly a loner and just want to hone your craft without other people getting involved, I turn your attention once more to Neil
Gaiman. His blog and FAQ are cram-packed with advice, resources, and insight on what it is to be this thing called writer,
and how to succeed.