1. How did you get started writing?
I began writing in high school, an 85-page hand-written story that I wish I would have kept. I can’t remember what it was about, but I’ve always loved stories. In a creative writing class in high school, my teacher, Mrs. Stifter, said she was going to read a student’s writing sample. She began by saying, “A writer like this only comes around once in seventeen years.” I was shocked when she read my piece. I’ll never forget her words or how that made me believe I could be a writer. Of course, I feel everyone has at least one good story they could tell.
2. Who influenced you?
After Mrs. Stifter, it would have to be Mom. I was reading all her thrillers, like The Bourne Conspiracy, when I was in high school, and my writing does gravitate toward that kind of pacing and excitement. I also loved fantasy; Tolkein, Stephen Donaldson, Garth Nix, Phillip Pullman, and many others. Mom still reads all my writing, and she has a great sense of pacing and story.
3. Do you have a favorite book/subject/character/setting?
Fantasy seems to be my niche. I love middle grade and young adult characters. These stories seem less jaded, and the characters fresher and still exploring life. As far as one book, subject, or character, that’s too tough to choose. Sabriel, The Golden Compass, Hobbit, The Hunger Games, Fablehaven, Percy Jackson, and many others have all been great reads.
4. Do you have advice for someone who wants to be an author?
Write and read as much as you can. Read in many areas, but especially know the genre you’re writing for. I live by dreams, love/passion, and intuition. Write about your dreams and what excites you. Follow your heart. You should love your characters and your story. Don’t try to follow trends or copy someone else — your ideas and your vision are unique.
You need to find quality readers for your writing, but when you’re starting out, join a writing group or take classes at a local literary center. Over time you’ll find out what works for you. Some people love the group process, and some find it slow and tedious and would rather have a stable of readers they go to. I have two great story and grammar professional editors, and I use a few general readers to help me with the rest. Trust your intuition. The goal is to be your own best critic. A niggling doubt about a plot point or character or dialogue is something you have to pay attention to.
You obviously have to know writing and story fundamentals, but always write what you love to read and write. Most of all, have fun. I am excited to write daily, and it’s never a chore. When I was beginning, that wasn’t always the case, because there was so much to learn. That’s where help from others can ease any struggles and give you a boost.
5. Where is your favorite place to write?
At home. Some writers do it in coffee shops, but I get too distracted with a lot of commotion and want to focus.
6. How do you feel about people reading your books?
I’m excited to have young readers see and critique my book! Honestly, I’m always nervous about what any reader might say, but the truth is that I’ve done my best, worked as hard as I could, and am satisfied with the fun and enjoyment I had doing it. As a writer you’re always learning and, hopefully, always improving. I know that every written story can be better, but at some point you have to say, “It’s not perfect, but it’s good enough,” and hope that your intended readers agree with you.