Exclusive Interview with
When did you start writing?
When I was in 2nd grade we would write little stories every few weeks. We could pick pretty much any topic we wanted. Sometimes they were fiction, sometimes about things we did over the weekend or a trip we went on during a summer vacation or school break. Once they were done, our teacher would have them typed up and placed in colorful folders with the little prongs inside to make them look "official." Then we were allowed to illustrate them ourselves. To this day it's still one of my favorite childhood memories!
What makes writing your passion?
I'm not sure what "makes" a passion. Writing is something I've just always felt confident doing. Confidence is definitely something I have struggled with growing up, especially in middle school and high school, and still do to some degree today. I have a hard time talking to people sometimes, because I feel like my brain moves so fast that I can't sort out my words fast enough. Writing gives me a chance to slow down, and through this medium I feel like I'm best able to use my voice.
How long have you been writing?
In general - since I was a kid. Professionally, I'd probably say since college. I was a Creative Writing/English major.
What was the feeling when you published your first book?
My first publication was a young adult novella called Sincerely, Me. It was important to me because I wanted to try and capture some of my experiences in dealing with mental health issues while in high school. While the events are fiction, some of the characters and a lot of the inspiration I used for the project was based on things that happened in my life. In a way, my first publication was "my story." It will always have a special place in my heart.
What’s the story behind your choice of characters?
Like in my novella, as mentioned above, sometimes I draw my characters from people I've met in my past. Brynne and Charity, two supporting characters in my novella, are largely derived from two close friends I had in high school myself. They are still an important part of my life to this day.
In other cases, such as for The Spoken Word, my first full-length YA novel that I published over the summer, I might take character traits from people I know personally, or that I might see on tv. Basically, when I start writing a new fiction project, I try to let the characters come to me. It's my belief that they invent themselves as we continue writing, and so instead of trying to mold a character too much in the beginning, I just let it flow and then make tweaks and adjustments as I get further along in the project.
What annoys you the most in pursuing a writing career?
I think for me the most annoying thing is that even though you don't necessarily set out to write just to make money, you have to have an income to support yourself. For me sometimes the hardest thing is just finding time every day to work on my writing. I've been furloughed since COVID started, so that's helped me a lot with getting more serious about my writing, but when you work 40 hours a week it's hard to keep the momentum going. You get home, eat some dinner, hang with the dog, and then have to decide how much time you can logistically devote to your craft each day while still getting enough sleep. Basically, I find being an adult to be highly inconvenient most of the time!
How do you get over the “writer’s block”?
During my first Creative Writing class in college, one of the first things our professor taught us was to write everyday no matter what. She'd say "Don't worry about the quality. Just get the words down on the page. Get the ideas out. You can polish later. First, just write and see where you end up going." Another thing I'd learn during college was to not stop and re-write during a first draft. Instead, finish the full, bare-bones draft, and then go back and revise, and revise, and revise, until you feel satisfied. For me, that usually means having the first draft open in one half of the screen, while completely retyping the entire thing in the second draft on the second half of the screen. It's tedious, but for me it works. It's how I wrote papers in college and graduate school, and it's probably how I'll continue my writing process throughout my career.
We all know the writer’s path is never easy, what makes you keep going? What advice would you give to new authors?
What makes me keep going is knowing that the only thing standing in my way of fulfilling my goals is me. If I want to be able to continue to release, say, one fiction publication and one nonfiction publication each year, then I have to keep myself motivated to actually do the research and the writing. I can't let myself get lazy. The biggest trap you can fall into is saying "I'll just take a night off" and then one night turns into a week, or a month. Writing is a machine that constantly needs fuel or oil. Once it stops, it's super hard to get yourself going again. My advice? Just keep going. Write everyday, even if it's just a short story or something silly. Dedicate yourself to it, and don't listen to the demons in your head saying that you aren't good enough. There are an infinite amount of ideas out there. Find yours and run with it.
If you could go back in time and talk to your younger self, what would you say?
"Stop insisting that you want to be a musical theatre major and look for more Creative Writing programs."
I was dead set on musical theatre until about halfway through my junior year of high school. I had a phenomenal college career and wouldn't have changed it for anything, but I wish I would have realized my passion for writing and acted on it earlier to try and get involved in the field as a teenager, and perhaps do some more research into college programs.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with the bad ones?
What is the feeling when you get a good review?
Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?
"Write what you know." - another valuable lesson learned in college. If you start with what you know, then you can establish a comfortable baseline and grow from there.
Which of your characters you can compare yourself with? Did you base that character on you?
What do you think, the book cover is as important as the story?
I think that a book cover that stands out is definitely more likely to result in a link click or a first-glance perusal. It's like the saying "the eyes are the window to the soul." The cover is like getting a glimpse of a book's inner self. If it is misleading, not visually appealing, or doesn't give you much of a hint at what's inside, then it's harder to feel instinctively drawn toward it.
Do you connect with your readers? Do you mind having a chat with them or you prefer to express yourself through your writing?
I don't really have a big enough network or following to have had connected with many readers, so right now I mainly express myself through writing. In the future though, I would like to be able to interact with readers. I think author-reader dialogue is important in making both readers and writers feel acknowledged and like they're on the same playing field. Authors are just people, and usually we love talking about our stories, so if you do too, then chances are we'll probably have a good chat!
How do you feel when people appreciate your work or recognize you in public?
Who is your favorite author? Why?
Honestly, I could probably never pick just one. I've read too many books. Some of my favorites, however, are Cassandra Clare, Philip Pullman, Rick Riordan, Sarah Dessen, Terry Brooks, Kelley Armstrong, Chloe Neill, and Ilona Andrews. I'm a sucker for a good Urban Fantasy series especially!
What’s the dream? Whom would you like to be as big as?
I want to be as big as myself. The dream isn't to be a big name, it's just to write and be a part of the literary world that's been my home for most of my life. If you set out to be a big name or like another writer, then you're doing yourself an injustice, because as much as I love my favorite authors' works, if I'm not trying to be myself and use my own unique voice, then I'm losing sight of what being a writer is really about, in my opinion.
Would you rewrite any of your books? Why?
I could see myself going back and revising my novella a little more and trying to add some more chapters. It was my first major work/publication, so it obviously probably use some new attention now that I've gotten more experience and a few more years of life under my belt. There's always opportunities for improvement.