You write one short story at the age of 10 about a pit on the moon laden with poisonous hamburgers, and suddenly you’re an author. That’s the way I saw it when “Murder on the Moon” became an instant hit with my fourth-grade classmates. I’d always been a voracious reader, but upon sharing my little yarn with my friends, I suddenly realized the freedom (and power!) of becoming the storyteller. Over the next few years, I would go on to write several short stories, mostly involving murder mysteries and my schoolmates.
The thrill of whodunits subsided when I discovered the long and (theoretically) rewarding payoffs of the soap operatic style of telling tales, which was followed quickly by my unearthing of the superhero fiction genre (which is just soap operas in spandex).Fast-forward to my last semester at Florida State University, where I was starting to regret my decision to pursue a business management degree instead of something more literary. I had big stories in my head. Instead of second-guessing my educational path, I used my free time to pursue my passion. A few months later, my first novel had arrived in the world—and it wasn’t pretty. Like all writers, though, I had to start somewhere.
I went back to the drawing board with my ideas for The Survivors—a contemporary fantasy story about what would happen if real people found themselves empowered with superhuman abilities. But The Survivors wasn’t so pretty either. The concept was fun but the execution was rough. It was temporarily shelved while I set out to learn how to be a better and publishable writer. And 10 years later, I think I may have learned a thing or two.
I wrote another novel in the interim years (more on that soon!), but The Survivors will always be my baby. In many ways, the work of an artist is like his or her child. Now my little one’s ready to play with the big kids. After the many years of edits and rewrites, I’m proud of the novel it’s grown into.
What inspires you to write?
Sometimes I’ll get an idea for a book from ten seconds of a movie/television show that I watch or book that I read. It’s always just an obscure moment that makes me think, “what if THIS had happened instead?” I’m also very inspired by the people in my life. I’m lucky enough to have a lot of colorful characters in my day-to-day world, and sometimes pieces of them find their way on to the page.
Other direct inspirations include J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, which I realize is a complete DUH. Her abilities to intricately craft an entire world and inspire generations of kids to read are amazing. Also my sister – she’s a singer/songwriter. I’ve loved watching her grow as an artist over the years. Her successes big and small inspire me to keep at it.
Tell us about your writing process.
I’ve written two novels (only one published so far), and I approached them in completely different ways. For THE SURVIVORS, I made up a lot as I went along. That’s a fun and liberating feeling, but it also requires a great deal of backtracking to make sure all of the pieces fit. For my second novel, I outlined everything from the very beginning. It was by far easier to write, and I was able to satisfy my creative needs with small character moments in my daily writing. I would definitely recommend outlining!
For the outlining process, I used a simple Excel spreadsheet to list out all of the major plot points and character movements. When I used this process, my novel had a very particular timeline to it, so I often moved plot moments up and down until I had just the right fit.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
A good writer has no choice but to listen his or her characters. If written well, those characters will become real people, and they will want to march to their own beat, have definite opinions and proceed according to their beliefs. When I first wrote THE SURVIVORS, there was a character that I desperately wanted to redeem (because he was so much fun to write), but I had to let him choose his own path. Not necessarily pretty, but it was real.
What advice would you give other writers?
Write every day.
Read every day.
See out critiques that aren’t from your mother.
Listen to your critics and learn from them.
Join a writing group or take a writing class at a community college.
Learn the business side to writing – marketing, social media, public relations, etc. are vital.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I tried the traditional route of finding a literary agent for years. Granted, my work wasn’t anywhere near as honed as it is today, but that process was brutal. Even if one finds an agent and they immediately sign you with a publisher, it could be years before your book sees print. In addition, I also feel like I have a very commercially-viable book, so I like the idea of retaining all of the rights if (when!) a studio wants to turn it into a movie.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
There are two major trends that I’ve kept an eye on for several years now: indie authors and e-readers. I know they have their detractors, but e-readers are the way of the future. There are a ridiculous number of advantages to them: less waste, environmentally-friendly, no storage issues, lower costs, etc. And the advent of the e-reader has also made the strong emergence of the independent author possible. We a free delivery method, indie authors can now write a book and have it ready to sell without insane upfront costs. It’s a good time to be a writer.
What do you use?
Professional Cover Designer
What genres do you write?
What formats are your books in?
eBook, Both eBook and Print