Before we dive into our next Q and A, I wanted to mention that I signed up to be part of a Blog Hop with Raimey Gallant. She contacted me a few months ago and mentioned that she would be willing to have me join her hop once a month. So excited to be part of this. The #authortoolboxbloghop is a way to support other authors and to gain a little exposure as well. Check out other bloggers posts as well in the link above. Okay, on to the interview!
I love doing these Q and As with different authors. I learn from each one and I get to know more about people that I’ve known for years. A good example of this is my friend, Erica. We met through a writing class at The Attic Institute in Portland, Oregon a few years ago. We were all there to finish our novels and we ended up in a writing group together after the class. In addition, we’ve now shared countless happy hours to discuss our writing lives. I’m happy to share a little bit more about her.
Erica Steele works in communications in beautiful Portland, Oregon. When not writing or editing, she can be found chasing her toddler, taking pictures, drinking coffee (sometimes all at the same time).
- What do you write? I write short stories of a variety of genres, particularly fantasy. I’m writing a ghost story right now and having too much fun with it. If it makes even one reader not want to turn off their light that night, I’ll be proud. I also write (or attempt to write) novel-length young adult fiction, mainly fantasy, thrillers, and spooky stuff.
- Since it’s October… what is your favorite spooky/scary book that you think is underrated? I think Jennifer McMahon is an excellent, underrated writer of frightening, disturbing, and beautifully written stories. She excels at mystery, slow-building chills, and all-consuming atmosphere. Last week I read her short story, “Hannah-Beast,” just in time for Halloween. I haven’t read all her novels, but I especially liked Winter People.
- Favorite book from childhood? (could be Halloween related too) Wait Till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hawn. It was a perfect story for my young self – shy, bookish, and enthralled by ghost stories. And I think I actually got to meet the author during a visiting author event at my school in like fifth grade…but I can’t confirm that 100% – my imagination has always been stronger than my memory.
- Use three words to describe what keeps you writing and persevering? Dreams. Need. Drive.
- Another October related question . . . Do you have a favorite character that tends to conceal his/her identity or somehow uses costume or similar to change who and how they act? Arya Stark from A Song of Ice and Fire. Other Stark siblings disguise themselves in different ways too, but I won’t say any more for those who haven’t read the books or watched Game of Thrones (you should do both).
- Where do you draw your inspiration to keep writing? From my writing friends (like Christi!) who persevere and keep working hard to improve their craft and complete their stories despite challenges. And from my younger self, really. I’ve kept most of the notebooks and journals that I filled with stories over the years. If I’m feeling stuck or lost creatively, I can peruse these and recapture that sense of wonder and joy I had at simply writing any random scene or character that pops into my head.
- What was one of the hardest scenes for you to write? I can’t think a particular scene, but the third quarter of my novel killed me. Not the very end, but I struggled for ages trying to connect the first half of the story to that final quarter. Sometimes I even struggle with that writing short stories.
- How do you think being someone else’s beta reader helps inform your own writing process? Or helps you become a better writer? I’ve learned so much being a beta reader! As I read through someone else’s manuscript for the first time, I can see what works, what doesn’t work, and why. It helps me better understand my own stories and identify where I’m struggling.
I’ve had the opportunity to read a near-final manuscript after a much earlier draft, and it was wonderful to see the progress – the streamlining, polishing, etc.
Any writing advice, good or bad, that stuck with you and why? FINISH. Finish your first draft no matter how God awful you think it is. Don’t let things like self-doubt, short attention span, day job, or family stop you (half-kidding on those last two). Much easier said than done, of course. I’m prone to editing too much while still developing the initial draft. Sometimes it worked, but sometimes it stopped me cold. Also, as a serial story-starter I’m always chasing the latest idea while the rest languish, mostly unfinished. It took me 10 years, on and off, to finish my first novel. I’m five years into my second and it’s not going well. I have another that I’ve started, but have hesitated diving in because of the fear of not finishing. I’ve found writing short stories to be more practical for me right now, and still very satisfying.
I try to also remember that what works for one writer, and maybe even one particular story, doesn’t always work for others.
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*Interested in participating in a Q and A? Drop me a line on my website.