As an ongoing series of creative interviews I am holding here, please inquire if you would like to answer the questions below. The latest one is with YA writer Emily Bates – her book, Demon’s Heart will be at a bookstore near you soon!
1. When did you start putting pen to paper?
Fifth grade. I wrote a story about me and a bunch of friends going through a black hole and becoming superheroes in the world on the other side. It was terrible, but I had a blast writing it.
2. What’s your literary poison – prose, poetry, etc.?
MG and YA fiction. Historical fiction, fantasy, the occasional sci-fi–whatever ideas are flowing at the time. But fantasy is probably the poisonest of my poisons.
3. Who is your favorite fictional hero?
Seriously? Just one? Hmmm . . . I love Miri from Shannon Hale’s “Princess Academy.” I read that book in college and wished with all my heart that I had read it in middle school. Miri was everything I wanted to be back then: smart and kind and brave and hardworking. I have to note here, though, that I don’t know if I can truly pick a FAVORITE. Miri is just my first “favorite” that came to mind.
4. Which famous writer can you most identify with?
I honestly have no idea. I think all the time about which of their characters I identify with, but I don’t know that I could name a single author I’ve ever truly identified with.
5. What are your current projects? (*Include books, novellas, short stories, poems, blogs, awards or anything of interest.)
My YA fantasy novel Demon’s Heart is in the final throes of editing and will be off to press in October and on shelves December 9. I’m working on a second draft of the sequel and plotting/rough drafting the third book. I also have a handful of back-burner projects, because sometimes I just can’t deal with Rustav anymore: a spy novel, a high school alien novel, and a bring-down-the-empire novel.
Outside of the noveling world, I write a blog over at bumblesbooks.wordpress.com in which I discuss writing, editing, publishing, reading, and whatever else crosses my mind.
6. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book or writing piece?
Not yet. But I’m sure that once I see it in print, I’ll think of something I wish I’d done better.
7. Do you have any advice for other writers?
Write what you want to write. When I get caught up in writing for the market or writing for an audience or writing for money or writing for anything but me, that’s when I write the worst garbage that’s ever filled a page. You have to write the story that’s inside you, not the story you think someone else wants to hear.
8. What were your grades like in English class? (A, B, anything less than this is shameful 😉
A’s. But man, I hated English class. I got my bachelor’s degree in college without taking a single stinking English class because high school English was so wrenchingly frustrating to me.
9. How much research do you do for your writing?
Depends. One of the reasons I like fantasy is because I can make up most of the stuff. But I don’t usually sit down before I write and read a bunch of books on a specific subject. I’ll just hit a point in the book where I think “I need to check up on that,” look it up, and go on with the plot.
10. Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand?
Computer. Tablet, sometimes, if I’m traveling or writing right before I go to bed. But I do have a typewriter, and typing on it gives me a total writer’s high.
11. What is the best advice you’ve been given?
To find my own path. No two authors ever get published the exact same way, so don’t ever listen to anyone who says that their way is the best way or the only way. You just find the way that works for you.
12. What book do you think everyone should read?
Ahhhh . . . Hippos Go Berserk. Sandra Boynton.
Okay, seriously, I’ll go with Jane Eyre. I would say Les Miserables, but I’ll admit that it’s a little long.
13. two part question: Do you play an musical instrument? And what instrument would you like to learn to play?
I play the piano and (kind of) the guitar. At various points in my life, I have played the clarinet, the bass clarinet, the trumpet, and (for one night only, but I did learn a song) the violin. I would love to learn to play guitar better, and honestly, I want to master the harmonica. I have two, but I’ve never sat down and played with them enough to get it worked out.
14. What process did (or are you going) you go through to get your book published?
After writing and rewriting an absurd amount of times with fabulous feedback from my writing group, my husband, my family, etc., I started researching agents and publishers through Writer’s Market. I made a list, checked out websites, cut down my list, and started sending it out. After all that work, though, I remembered a publisher I had looked at while looking around for potential editing internships in college, Cedar Fort. I had really liked what I heard about them, so I sent it to them, and they picked it up! They have been amazing to work with, and so wonderful and helpful as I’ve tried to figure out how this whole publishing thing works.
15. Who would you like to change places with… i.e. live someone else’s life for a week?
Nobody. I like my life too much, warts and all.
16. If you weren’t a writer, what would be your ideal profession?
I would love love love to run a little indie bookstore, like Meg Ryan in “You’ve Got Mail.” Except that I would probably be terrible at the business side of it. I would spend too much time saying, “You have to read this book! Take it for free!” So maybe I should be a librarian instead.
17. Bill Murray or Chevy Chase? John Cleese or Michael Palin?
Um . . . I know who Bill Murray is . . . and John Cleese!
18. What’s your most rewarding literary accomplishment to date (one that just blew your mind!)
I’m getting a book published! How crazy is that?
19. What quote do you live by?
“Never take counsel from your fears.” –General Stonewall Jackson
Also, “Work will win when wishy-washy wishing won’t.” –Thomas S. Monson
20. What would be your ideal writer profession ambition? (famous pulitzer prize winning author, successful self-published author as a day job, etc.)
This will probably sound hokey, but I really just want my books to touch a young person’s life. I distinctly remember the first time I read “Number the Stars” by Lois Lowry. It changed me forever. I doubt I’ll ever hold a candle to Lois Lowry, but if what I write can make a difference in one person’s life, that’s enough for me.
But, you know, making some money to buy more books would be all right, too.
21. Would you like to ask me a question?
Yes! What is the last book you read that changed your life? And… many thanks to Lisa for sharing her blog space with me!
Great question… but I’m going to be greedy here with three books that have enhanced my life greatly.
One – it was twenty-one years ago when a great friend (who’s no longer living) had recommended a book about faith to me, John Irving’s A Prayer For Owen Meany.
Second is The Zone Diet by Dr. Barry Sears. When I studied nutrition at university, it was suggested by our professor to read. The reader learns how a body metabolizes and digests food… and what foods are good/bad for a person and why. It’s one of the many reasons I stay healthy and look younger than my age (and don’t forget sunscreen!) as the doc would say, “chronological and biological.”
Third is Don’t Go To The Cosmetic Counter Without Me by Paula Begoun. Hands down the bible for anyone that buys skin and hair care products. Paula educates the reader on how good/bad the products they buy, if they work, and why they don’t. Also, she has saved me thousands of dollars a year by proving drug store products and her own line is better and far less money than pricey high-end ones. You’ll thank me – check it out!
And many thanks to Emily for interviewing with me! She’s another talented writer we’re lucky to have in the writing universe! Please stop by here to check out Emily’s work: http://bumblesbooks.wordpress.com/