Q: What do you write?
A: I mostly write YA sci-fi so far. I’ve also written a couple of short YA horror stories influenced by the “rules” of teen horror movies, and a little fantasy.
Q: Why do you write?
A: I have these ideas in my head that have to come out! 😉 Plus, writing anything and assuming that anyone but my mother will want to read it takes a certain amount of ego. So I’ve got that going for me.
Q: Why does an adult write YA? Or read it for that matter?
A: LOL! I love this question, because it always comes from someone who never reads YA. I guess it’s because my brain never really grew up – at least not entirely. Yes, I’m over 30 – gasp! – and I enjoy stories for teens. They may be violent and have horrible and dramatic things happening, but I know it won’t be as graphic as adult novels can be. And I like a happy ending, eventually. Plus, I find YA novels more exciting and fantastical, while adult novels tend to be more rooted in reality – boo reality! Someone famous said (I don’t remember who, unfortunately) “If you have a story that adults won’t believe, write it for children.” I say write it for teens. They can handle almost the same subject matter, and their brains are still open to imagination.
Q: When did you start writing?
A: Late. Later than most authors I talk with anyway. For years the only thing I wrote were papers for school. I was about 25 when I started writing my own fiction. Why? It’s probably cliché, but I was inspired, like a lot of people, by Harry Potter. I wanted to write like that. Later I learned that I didn’t really. I wanted to write female driven action, my own way. I thought about stories that I loved, including HP, and found it disturbing how most sci-fi, action, and thrillers are dominated by a majority of male characters. Less than a third of characters with speaking parts are women. Crowd scenes in movies are only 17% female and we don’t notice. This discrepancy is important. Women make up half of the people in this world and we’re teaching ourselves and worse, our kids, to see 17% as half. On the plus side, I’m excited about all the new novels coming out that feature strong, diverse, female leads. This is still nowhere near half. We need more.
Q: What are your influences?
A: The world! But if I have to pick literary influences, then Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Pride and Prejudice, The Princess Bride, Trixie Belden. And I wanted an answer to all the male dominated action and science fiction, where women and girls just seemed like stereotypical extras thrown in who needed saving constantly. I wanted Buttercup to take up a sword and save herself, and for her to not be the only main female character in her story! I wanted more Hermiones, McGonagalls, and Belatrix’s, so that women were even with the number of main male characters, good and bad. And I wanted to explore the real magic of science, as best I could imagine it in the future.
Q: What does it take to be a writer?
A: In my still-newbie-writer opinion, I think it takes a lot of practice, perseverance, and drive to Finish the Story! I’m sure I’ve gotten better since I started writing, but I don’t know that I’ll ever be as good as I want to be. It also takes a willingness to work hard at my own self-promotion, which does not come naturally.
Q: How does getting published work?
A: I’ve learned that there are a number of different paths. If you’re going for traditional, big five publishing, then you need to find an agent first. This is tough, but the big five don’t take unagented manuscripts. A contract with a big publisher comes with an increasingly small advance, professional editing, layout, cover, and supposedly marketing. However new authors especially need to do more and more of their own promotion. Big publishers just aren’t putting much money into marketing new, unproven authors. For all of that, they now own your book for your lifetime plus 70 years :P.
On the other side, there’s self-publishing where you have to do and pay for everything yourself, but get to keep a higher percentage of the profit, keep control and ownership of your work.
In between (the way I’m going) are small and medium publishers. Many will take unagented manuscripts, so you can skip the gatekeeper. True, I pay more of the upfront costs, like I hired my own editor, but other professional services will be paid as a percentage of profits. I was super lucky to become a part of Blue Zephyr Press, where I keep ownership and control of my own work!
Q: What do you struggle the most with?
A: Editing myself and writing succinctly. Short stories are really hard for me to keep short! Also, I cannot see what’s working and what’s not in my own stuff. Writing groups, I have three! are essential to telling me what just doesn’t make sense and suggesting good tweaks.