Writer's Tag: 20 Questions
What type of writing do you do? I used to write plays and musicals, but I have since switched to writing poetry and novels.
What genres and/or topics do you write about? I write fantasy. I briefly flirted with writing YA after being told my voice and style lends itself well to the genre, but recently I was told my content veered into adult territory and that I should age characters up. Now that I look at my work, I think it's closer to New Adult, even though traditional publishing doesn't recognize that as a genre. My lead characters tend to be aged 18-21, based on The Name and the Key and the new ages for Son of the Siren. I like to write fantasy inspired by fairy tales, but I usually change the fairy tale enough that it becomes its own story. I also like writing stories with plenty of magic in it. I may continue writing about the fae, too--they popped up in Son of the Siren and I had a blast writing them, so I might revisit them in the future.
How long have you been writing? Ever since I was a little girl. I wrote poetry in early elementary school and my first "book" by 3rd grade. In 5th grade, I wrote my first play and had it performed in class, then full-length plays in 7th and 8th grade. In 8th grade, I wrote my first musical, but it never got performed, which is probably a good thing. I wrote another musical in high school which also didn't get performed--I cut all of the music and turned it into a straight play. My first musical production to get performed was when I was 23, at the Ohio State University Mansfield campus.
Are you published? Yes, but little things. Bits of poetry. My first published story was in a local children's anthology in 3rd grade; my first published poem in 8th grade. I have since published poetry in journals as an adult, but I've never published my shows, and I have yet to publish any books. My goal is to write and publish books for the rest of my life, and if I can find a composer to re-arrange my musical scores, get my musical Melancholia out into the world.
What was the first story you ever wrote? I don't remember. But my first "book" was in a blank hardcover you could illustrate and write in, and I wrote a series called "The Fantasy Club." It was inspired by a lot of stuff I saw on TV, so it wasn't the most original thing out there.
Why do you write? Honestly, at this point, it's all I know how to do. It is my identity. Sometimes it is painful. Sometimes it makes me upset. But the moments where I feel good, I feel unstoppable and amazing, and those are the moments I live for. Nothing beats it.
How do you find time to write? I'm really bad at finding time to write. If I have a deadline, I can make time by just forcing myself to do it in the evenings and on weekends--basically any time I'm not at work. But if I don't have a deadline, I tend to veg out. I have to have some sort of tangible goal in mind, something I can accomplish, in order for me to make the time to write...because then it feels like I absolutely have to get it done.
When and where are the best times to write? This is kind of repeating the previous answer, but evenings and weekends. I used to be a late night writer, where I'd go well into 2 and 3 in the morning, but I'm older and can't bring myself to do that anymore. The latest I can do it is until 11pm or midnight. It's better when I write in the late morning and into the afternoon on the weekend.
What are your favorite food/drinks while writing? I'm too scared to get crumbs on my computer, so I avoid eating, but when I need a caffeine jolt I reach for soda, which is so bad for me. I don't like coffee or tea...I can stomach green tea and jasmine tea once in a blue moon, but I just can't bring myself to drink it regularly.
What is your writing playlist? I usually listen to movie, anime, or video game soundtracks when I write. Son of the Siren, my current project, has a lot of songs in it, so I actually didn't listen to anything while writing it because I didn't want to inadvertently copy anything I heard. After completing my first draft, though, I did find a song that reminds me of the fae forest of Elythia in my book, Son of the Siren. The song is called "Quen a Omagen" and it's by Erutan. You can hear birds singing in the song, which reminds me of a forest. Obviously the person who put together that Youtube video I linked to also thought of the woods and the fae! But in my head, I imagine Autumn Wood and all the golden flowers in the forest blooming in Elythia.
What do family/friends/loved ones think of your writing? I am lucky to have support from all of them. Some of them can be critical, though.
What parts of writing do you enjoy the most? I love coming up with characters, including their appearance and the clothes they wear. I also love the moments where the story just writes itself and takes off.
What parts of writing do you find challenging? I have a hard time with plot--giving characters enough things to do. And the middle of the story has proven to be extra difficult for me, because I can't always figure out how characters get from point A to point B.
What do you write with and on? I've tried to plot a little bit more, so I write in a notebook by hand (always with a mechanical pencil with 0.5 lead!). I also use the notebook to talk to myself when I'm trying to problem solve and work things out. When it comes to drafting, I type it straight into Word on my laptop or PC.
How do you overcome writer's block? I honestly don't know how I do it. Having a deadline usually forces me not to block out, because then I have to produce something. But when I don't have a deadline or immediate goal, I do get stuck. I try to watch movies or TV shows in my genre or in the book's time period to stay inspired, listen to soundtracks, and read books in my genre. I also have conversations with myself in my writing notebook to try to work through things.
How do you motivate yourself to write? Deadlines and specific goals.
Which authors inspire you as a writer? In no particular order, Robin McKinley, Juliet Marillier, Cecilia Dart-Thornton, N.K. Jemisin, Brigid Kemmerer, Holly Black, and Margaret Rogerson.
Which books inspire you as a writer? I'm not sure if I'm supposed to talk about writing craft books or fiction...but I like Jeff Vandermeer's Wonder Book and also his Book Life in terms of craft and the writing life. As far as fiction goes, Juliet Marillier's Daughter of the Forest and Margaret Rogerson's An Enchantment of Ravens as well as her book Sorcery of Thorns also inspire me.
What's the best advice you've gotten as a writer? Tim Waggoner, my mentor at Seton Hill University, told me not to worry about how other writers do it, and to not fight my process.
What are your writing goals for this year? Finish revisions, write a solid query letter, and get an agent. And, if I have it in me, start coming up with an idea for a new book.
My readers who also happen to be writers, I'm tagging you. You can write this on your own blog, or answer any one of the questions below in the comments. Have fun with this! And as always, thank you for reading.