Fiction Doesn't Have to Mean Fluff
Are you a writer dreaming of becoming an author? Curious about my ‘Descendants of War’ series? Looking for inspiration? I thought you might enjoy a little Q&A about my journey to becoming the author I am today. I’ve gotten a lot of questions over the last couple years and I’m hoping that my answers encourage you to keep writing, keep dreaming, and keep working! Q: When did you start writing? A: I started telling stories - with my fingers as my characters - before I was even able to speak full sentences. I started writing in earnest in middle school (though it was mostly terrible poetry haha). Q: How did you know you wanted to be an author? A: I was a good student and enjoyed a number of different subjects, but nothing gave me the pleasure writing did. Writing was this rush for me - a mix of irritation, excitement, and satisfaction... I’d get lost in a story in a way I never got lost in anything else. Then, when I started writing my first book (when I was seventeen), my mind was made up. I simply HAD to write. It wasn’t an optional thing after that. Q: Is becoming an author difficult? A: Yes. Heart-breakingly so. I sent out hundreds of query letters. I got rejected so, so many times. Sometimes though the rejection letters hurt less than just not hearing back from anyone. Silence, for years, was torture. Editor, publisher, agent, advertising, re-writes, more re-writes, social media, never-ending work... it’s exhausting and often extremely frustrating. But it’s worth it, it’s so worth it. That first moment when you hold your own book in your two hands, and you smell that fresh paper scent, and you just think to yourself, “I did it.” Q: What do you do to overcome writer’s block? A: Change my subject matter or style. If I’m having trouble with a chapter in my book, I’ll take a break from it, but stay within a creative activity. Like, I’ll work on poetry or read, or even sing, and once I have my mind working fluidly again, I’ll return to what was giving me trouble and take another stab at it. Q: Does writing energize or exhaust you? A: Both, actually. And I think that’s probably pretty common. It’s a pretty stagnant job... sitting for a long time at a computer makes me really restless and I end up with all kinds of pent-up energy after a day spent writing. However, my brain will be tuckered out completely. Q: What piece of advice would you give an aspiring writer? A: Cry. Go ahead and cry. Cry when you’re frustrated after having writer’s block or getting a rejection letter. Let it out. BUT! Even more importantly, if you’re writing a sad/emotional scene, cry. Because if you’re making yourself tear up, you’re well on your way to making a reader cry. And, to me, two of the biggest signs of success as a writer are when you can make a reader laugh out loud, and when you can make them cry. Q: How much do you base your characters on real people? A: Depends on the circumstances. Conversations, I tend to mimic after ones I've really had. Character appearances I definitely tend to model after real people, it makes things easier/more tangible in description. Personalities though, they seem to end up with individual, specific traits that are legit, but that’s ultimately it. This is a hard question for me, because I’ve had a couple friends think book characters are modeled after them, and I would never had said so! So, maybe I base characters on actual life more than I think I do! Q: How many hours a week do you spend on your writing? A: Oh, good grief, I have no idea! During active writing times, it’ll be 40+ hours a week, and I’ll even have dreams about my characters! But, even if I’m not actively writing, I’m doing stuff on social media, I’m plotting out details of future stories, I’m jotting down ideas, I’m mulling things over, doing research, making up scenarios. I mean, it really never completely shuts off. Q: How do you select names for your characters? A: I’m a big believer in giving characters names that have meaning fitting to their person. For instance, the evil King antagonist of my series is named ‘Zagan’ which means ‘fallen angel’. I even try to make sure the names of cities and territories have meaning behind them. I used the name ‘Layton’ which means ‘from the meadow’ for the town that’s attacked in ‘Harmonies of War’ because it’s this quaint, traditional, earthy village. It’s a fun little added detail of care that I think observant readers really enjoy.
Q: How long does it take to write a book? A: Forever! Haha, no I’m joking. Depends on the writer. Depends on the book. It took years for my first book, it’s taking a year+ for my third book, but the second one I hammered out in just over a month! I’ve also been working on a book of poetry for almost a decade! It really depends on how dedicated a writer is, how much time is available to be spent on writing, and how clear the story already is in the writer’s head. Q: Do you read your book reviews? A: Yes. And no. If it’s good, I read it a million times over, as encouragement to keep writing when I’m feeling low. If it’s bad, I’ll skim it for useful points/criticisms, and kind of file those away for future writing adjustments... and then never read the review again. The negativity can really get to me sometimes, so I try to take it easy with reading bad reviews. No writer pleases every reader, that’s just fact. Q: Is fictional writing as important as non-fiction? A: Absolutely! My books have a message of mental health, relationship development, and humanity. Fiction doesn’t have to mean fluff. Doesn’t matter if a story is set in medieval times or in the sci-fi of a thousand years in the future, there’s always a lesson, there’s always a message, and there’s always something to identity with. Reading and writing brings us closer together. We share through words, our imagination, our experiences, our emotions, and our dreams. That’s a value unlike anything else. Fiction is incredibly important. Why else would there be millions of books out there?! And millions of readers waiting for new books to come out! Enjoy your weekend, writers, readers, and book lovers! Never stop dreaming!