In August I met the lovely Jodi McIsaac at When Words Collide Writers Conference in Calgary. I loved her excellent novel Through the Door. Jodi has invited me to participate in an author blog chain. She asked me eleven questions. Here are my responses.
1. What do you love about the YA genre?
YA is awesome because it encompasses everything that the teen years encompass- pathos, angst, joy, celebration, challenge, success, energy, dreams, fear, possibility, and hope. Whether it’s fantasy, sci-fi, horror, adventure, sports, drama, or romance, if it’s YA it has that vital spark of youth. I love that.
2. What do you hate about it?
I don’t think there’s anything to hate. It’s so diverse a genre that hating anything seems a bit shallow and pointless. I do dislike authors who write for a young adult audience like they’re preaching and teaching to idiots. I know teens are capable of deep thought and understanding. They deserve a respectful attitude.
3. What was the first story you ever wrote?
I don’t know for sure, but my mother found a story called “Minnow’s Pride” that I’d written in grade three or four. It was about a pride of lions.
4. What is your favourite mythological creature?
I quite like griffins.
5. Do you write on a regular schedule, or just whenever you can find time for it?
When I have a project on the go, I try to keep a regular schedule of about 6000 words a week. I aim for 1200 words a day, Monday to Friday, and if I don’t reach that, then I have to have it done by Sunday night. I tend to write throughout the day in three or four spurts. I’m most active at night, though.
I’ve also done NaNoWriMo in November. This involves writing 50,000 words in the month, averaging 1867 words every day. This is a killer pace! I prefer Camp NaNoWriMo in July because you can set your own goal. I chose 28000 words which was much more humane pace for me.
When I’m working on the editing and re-writing I tend to procrastinate a lot.
6. What is your ideal writing space, and how does it compare to what you have now?
I want to write with a view of the lake and hills, but my current windows are too high for a view of the hills visible from the front my house, and my house is about five feet too low for a lake view, so….
I dream of a writing turret set as a third story with a wall of floor to ceiling windows on the front and wrapping six feet along each side. On the rest of the wall space, I’d like floor to ceiling book shelves. Following Stephen King’s instructions, the desk will be in the middle of the room. There will be a comfy arm chair with room for dogs, who will readily climb the spiral staircase with a skill that amazes guests.
I keep mentioning this wonderful writing space to hubby, but so far he has not bought into the brilliance of my plan, hired the architect, or scheduled a builder. (I do have a friend who’s an architect and my brother is a builder, so I could make this happen with the barest of encouragement…) 😉
Now, I write all over: lying on the couch, at a desk in the living room, in the bath…
7. What is your best strategy for dealing with critical reviews?
If it’s a reviewer you trust, consider whether there’s any observations there to take in order to improve the next project. If there aren’t, and it’s just a matter of the reviewer having different taste or expectations, ignore it and focus on the positive interactions with those who enjoy what you write. No point dwelling on the negative. I had one review where the reviewer plainly hadn’t done more than skim the book, because she made several blatantly incorrect statements about the plot. What can you do?
8. What is your best piece of writing advice for young writers?
Read. Write. Read. Write. Repeat.
Kids don’t accept the simplicity of that, though, so here’s what I repeat ad nauseum in my English classes to encourage them to do the above:
The words are in the pen.
The act of writing frees the words.
Don’t think: write.
First drafts don’t have to be good, they just have to be written.
Yes. You can.
9. Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter?
10. If you could be one of the characters in your books for a day, who would it be?
Auntie Bright. (I”m giggling as I type that).
11. Who is your literary hero, and why?
Diana Gabaldon. She is a brilliant writer, crafts characters so real they are like dear friends, builds relationships with her fans, generously shares her wisdom with new writers, and encourages excellence.
And now onto the next person in the literary chain! Let me introduce you to Carol Mason, best-selling author of The Love Market, Send Me A Lover, and The Secrets of Married Women. The books are published in more than thirteen countries and available in more than nine languages. I met Carol at the Surrey International Writing Conference where she was presenting a workshop on writing a good pitch. She coached me through the writing and polishing of mine. Her advice was so good the publisher requested three chapters. Carol is from Britain, but lives in Vancouver, BC now.
1. What inspired you to begin writing?
2. How does being a British ex-pat living in Canada impact your writing?
3. In your own books, who is your favourite character? Why?
4. What author has inspired you?
5. You frequently write about your travels on your Facebook page. What is your most memorable travel story?
6. Do you have a favourite writing quotation to share?
7. What do you like about writing for ‘women’s fiction’?
8. What has been the most interesting thing that has happened to you because you are an author?
9. Which of your books was the easiest to write? Why?
10. Which of your books was the most difficult to write? Why?
11. I remember you telling me that someone broke into your house and stole your computer, and the two completed novels on it. Was losing those works a blessing or a curse in the long run?
Now stay tuned to see how Carol replies! I’ll provide a link when she does!)