As a kid I was blessed (or cursed) with a very rich imagination. I was a chronic daydreamer and I believed there had to be a good reason for it. I had to write to let everyone share in the rich, wonderful worlds I was weaving. What better way to vent out all the pixie dust clogging my head? As I got older, however, I was distracted by other, more practical pursuits. But writing never strayed far from my heart. Every time I’d read a book, I’d get the urge to write my own. Every time I’d watch a movie, my own novelized version would begin sprouting in my head. You know you’re truly meant to do something if that something refuses to let you go. I knew I’d never be happy unless I put pen to paper, finger pads to keypads and wrote my own book. So I did, and I had a sense of certainty I hadn’t felt since I was eleven. I am a writer, and my life is the better for it.
What inspires you to write?
One thing that excites me about writing is the ability to literally create something out of nothing; to reach out beyond the blinking cursor and draw from unseen worlds. In the flash of the moment a character appears, a line is spoken, and the scene is set. Something special occurs when you’re able to capture the vision in your mind and set it down on paper. The real magic happens when other people are able to see what you see and feel what you feel just by the very act of reading. People I’ve never met and probably will never meet are able to share in my inner experience. For a brief moment, they are transported to a world beyond their own, to forget for a little while their worries and stresses and live another life. That idea is what drives me to create my stories.
Tell us about your writing process.
There’s something romantic about writing by the seat of your pants. Just forge ahead and let the words flow unhindered from some mysterious source. Unfortunately, I tried it and ended up with a whole lot of words and not a lot of story. I admire the pantsers with their Muse-approved trousers, blazing through thrilling scenes and thickening plots. But I realized that I needed a road map or I’d blunder straight into storyline quicksand. I have this really handy software called Scrivener to help me structure my story. I use the templates for character bios to get a feel for their personalities. The index card feature is great for focusing on each scene and what needs to happen in it. I write down the names of the characters involved in the scene, the setting, and their motivations. I do an index card for every single chapter and scene in the novel, right up till the end. I discovered that I write faster and more effectively once I know exactly where I’m going. It’s a lot of work but it saves me from writing myself into a corner.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Definitely. Especially when I’m stuck with a story and the mental block minions are starting to sneak in the back door. I find it a great exercise to conduct interviews with my characters. I type down my question, I anticipate what their response might be, and I type down the response. If I don’t know what’ll happen in a certain scene I ask my character what they would do next. Sometimes the answers totally surprise me. Sometimes the characters give me insights and possibilities that I haven’t considered. And often the characters completely hijack the interview and start talking about their favorite sandwich or hamster breed. It’s almost like tapping into an unknown realm of your subconscious. These little impromptu interviews have enriched my writing experience and added life to my story.
What advice would you give other writers?
The most important thing in becoming a writer isn’t talent. It’s tenacity. There are thousands of promising writers who let their dreams die because they couldn’t barrel through the mental blocks or resist rejections. And most of the time your own worst enemy is yourself. I had to constantly swat away thoughts of “I’m a hack! I’m a hack!” all throughout my writing process. Writing has its delights but it can also be a slugfest especially when you think your book is utter garbage. But you have to put in the words every day even if it hurts to do it. Every day you’re being tested to see if you really think your dream is worth it. The Muse can be a sadistic sergeant in the authorial boot camp, but she rewards all writers who stick it out till the end.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
After a lot of thought and consideration, I decided to self-publish my first book: The Cellar. Initially, I was focused on querying for an agent and eventually landing a publishing contact with an ample advance. The problem is that the traditional method is a long drawn out process and can be harrowing for a newbie author. But indie authors like Amanda Hocking, JA Konrath and Hugh Howey showed me that there was another way. I could offer my story straight to the masses instead of having it languish in a slush pile. I could have more control over the art design, the formatting, the editing, and the style. There was no danger of my book being remaindered if it didn’t do well in its initial run. I could leave the book out there for as long as it takes for readers to discover it. Basically, I chose self-publishing for the freedom and flexibility it offered. But I’m not burning all my bridges. I’m still leaving the door open for traditional publishing just in case a nice offer happened to wander its way in.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
The advent of e-books has dramatically changed the face of publishing and will continue to do so in the years ahead. E-readers have become commonplace and many people have opted for digital copies instead of print. Since e-books are cheaper to produce, require no warehouses to store them, and no presses to produce them, they will gradually become the norm. As a result of the digital revolution many of the large publishers, who derive most of their profit from print sales, will have to adjust their practices to fit the times. The golden era of the page made from tangible tree pulp is coming to an end. The nostalgic part of me that loves the smell of a new book and the feel of the page on my fingers will lament its passing. But it’ll be a world of possibilities for the aspiring author. Digital books will give many of them the ability to craft books on their terms and sell them directly to their readers.
What do you use?
Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?
Post-Apocalyptic, Science Fiction, Dystopian, Young Adult
What formats are your books in?