How did you become a writer?
I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing. As a kid, I kept diaries and wrote stories that only my friends would read. In high school I was part of a creative writing club and won a few magazine and newspaper contests. I considered taking Creative Writing in university, but I’m not a risk taker in that way. I needed to know what I’d do for a job if being an author wasn’t in the cards. So, inevitably writing was put on the backburner throughout my time at university and most of the years I spent establishing my career.
It wasn’t until I went on parental leave with our first daughter that the bug to write struck again. The book I wrote was an idea I’d had percolating for years and just never put down on paper. From there, I started dabbling in online writing platforms, taking courses, trying to get some short stories published.
When my mother passed away a year and a half ago, I started taking writing a little more seriously again. I needed an outlet for all these big, terrible feelings, and writing has always been a constructive way to explore those things for me.
What inspires you to write?
The ideas from my stories often come from the lives of friends or family or something I’ve read or followed in the news. I have a keen interest in media and current events. Once I have an idea, I don’t always need continual inspiration to write. For me, writing is a little bit like a faucet that I can turn on and off. As long as I have a good sense of the ending of a story—the final scene, where I want each character to end up—I’m able to write with that in mind. I spend a lot of time in my head during car rides, while doing the dishes, listening to music or when I’m exercising trying to build my plot, get to know my characters, and so forth so that when I sit down to write I can be productive.
How do you develop your plot and characters?
Most of my plots and characters come out of things I’ve read in the news or things that have happened to friends or family over the years. I’ve always been fairly observant, and I think that helps with making my characters feel like real people as I write. I don’t do complex character sketches or anything like that. I get to know my characters as I write and then I go back and make adjustments later if I’m not sure I knew them well enough at the start or if lines don’t feel like something they’d say or think. But often, this getting-to-know-them process also helps to make my characters feel as though they’ve grown or changed over the course of the novel. As for the plot, I usually have a series of plot beats that I know I want to play. Then, it’s just a matter of figuring out how to foreshadow those appropriately, what to reveal, what to hold back, how to gain the maximum impact from the revelations and how to keep the writing tight enough that the story is a page-turner. It’s always very flattering to hear that someone couldn’t put your book down or lost track of time while reading something you wrote.
What are your current/future projects?
Currently, I have an adult romance novel that centers around Wyatt and Ellie who are movie stars and former lovers with a very complicated past. It’s told in a past-present narrative with chapters from both Wyatt and Ellie’s perspective. Can they overcome their past to build a future? I also have another romance that centers around college-age roommates who become entwined with the local football stars. While one romance blossoms, the other turns dangerous. It’s an exploration of friendship, love, and doing the right thing even in the face of some pretty heavy consequences. I also have some YA contemporary ideas, and I’ve written a three book YA fantasy trilogy that I’m trying to finetune as well.
Do you have a routine you follow when writing?
I have two young children, so most of my writing time is late at night after they’ve gone to bed or on weekends if I can get out of the house or they are napping. I drink a lot of tea and a lot of water as I try to get the words on the page.
As for the writing itself, I try to keep the point of a scene or chapter clear in my head. If I’m not sure what I’m developing (plot or character), then I’ll scrap the chapter and start over. I have a very loose outline that I follow, and I always have the broad strokes of the ending in mind.
For the most part, the important part is just to write something. I can always delete it or alter it later, but if I never get anything down, then nothing ever gets completed at all.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Join a writing group. Make writer friends. Share your work with people. Seek out feedback, let it sit for a while, then respond. I think the last point there is the hardest one. When I first started asking for feedback on my writing, it was sometimes really hard to hear what other people thought of my words, my characters, the story I was building. But I’ve learned that if I let critiques sit for a little while, allow my brain to turn them over, I can generally figure out which pieces of a critique are valid and which ideas aren’t necessarily going to help the story or characters to go in the direction I envision. Writing is often very personal. A lot of the times, as a writer, you’re leaving a piece of yourself on the page. Reflection is necessary to improving, though, so I try not to discount any criticism outright until I’ve had a chance to think about it carefully. Ultimately, if you find writer friends, they’ll ‘get it’ better than people who aren’t in a creative field, and hopefully we can all buoy each other up, make each other better.
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