Happy St. Patrick's Day! & Interview with Angela Crocker
Advice I would give to aspiring writers:
Read. All the time, in all genres. Always carry a book with you. Don’t go to sleep until you’ve read at least a chapter a day.
If you want to be a writer, just write. Don’t form a group and talk about writing. Don’t go out to coffee with your artsy friends and talk about how much you want to be a writer someday. Close the door, sit down at your desk (or wherever) and get lost in the words.
Write what you love. Write about what you can’t stop thinking about. Write that book you want to read, but can’t find on the shelves. If you do that 5-6 times a week, for an hour a day, and still enjoy it after a couple of years, you’re on your way.
How did you become a writer?
Backstory: As a child, I entertained myself by telling stories – first drawing them as pictures, because I couldn’t spell the words I wanted to use. I wrote for my high school’s literary magazine, and while I began college wanting to be a writer/artist, because of the pressures of practicality, I gave up the dream for other work.
Ten years later, parenting a son with autism, I’d become discouraged, weighed down by stress and worry. I needed a positive outlet, a way to help me survive and still be a decent human being at the end of the day. Out of desperation, I began writing in whatever time I could cobble together, and discovered I loved it. It was a welcome escape; I could go anywhere I wanted, be anyone I wanted to be. The joy and satisfaction this practice produced helped me get through some difficult times, and helps me still.
What inspires you to write?
I love this question! Inspiration is everywhere. I find it in National Geographic articles, observing people at the grocery store, or listening to friends’ stories around the dinner table. I’m inspired when I notice beauty: the seasonal shifting of light, the chill of a gloomy night walk by the river, the scent of woodsmoke, wind rushing through trees – sometimes so alive it sounds like voices.
Often, I let my mind wander. There’s a creepy brick house in an historic neighborhood near me – its windows have been bricked up. I make up stories about why this is, and what happens inside. Sometimes I think up what-if scenarios; what if cars or certain medicines had never been invented. Or I imagine myself living daily life two hundred years ago – or two hundred years from now – or in an entirely different world. Sometimes I wake up from a vivid dream and have a blueprint for a story.
Tell me about your protagonist. What’s your favorite trait and /or weakness?
Poppy is the protagonist in The Finding of Poppy Crimson Paquin. I love Poppy for several reasons. Although she’s still finding herself, she doesn’t let anyone tell her who she is. She makes her own decisions about what’s important to her (she’s a geology nerd!), but she’s also intrinsically compassionate. And she really grows in these qualities throughout the book. It’s fun seeing her discover more about herself and become confident in her uniqueness. I also love that she doesn’t see her partnership with Thom as a weakness, but a strength – she doesn’t try to do it all alone, and that takes some self-awareness and humility that I think is sometimes lacking in YA characters.
As far as her weaknesses go, Poppy lets her fears paralyze her sometimes, and can get tangled up in mental anxieties. Maybe she hesitates and holds back when she should assert herself. She isn’t a girl-power character, at least not at first, but I think this makes her relatable, and I hope readers enjoy seeing her grow into boldness.
What are your current/future projects?
Currently, I’m dividing my time between two novels. One is a YA fantasy about a ragtag group of teenagers (one with autism, and one with cerebral palsy) who team up, using their different magical strengths to uncover the source of the troubles plaguing their village, running headlong into trouble along the way.
The other is an adult speculative fiction novel about a dystopian world ruled by the wealthy, in which a trafficked woman covertly uses her position to undermine the governor she’s enslaved by, becoming a catalyst for the Resistance. It features a quirky, mixed bag of super-viruses, genetically modified soldiers, creepy old mansions, animal cyborg AI, romance, and vegetable gardening.
Future: I’ve written book two of Poppy’s story, but it’s a bit of a mess. Lots of rewrites ahead, but I’m so excited about it!
Could you share some of your challenges as a writer?
I wear a lot of hats, so balancing my time between developmental editing, autism-related therapies and advocacy for my son, our Victorian home-baby, and my current writing projects (as well as adulting in general) is challenging. Specifically, as a writer, I struggle with self-doubt and a vociferous inner critic. I have to continuously remind myself why I write (because I enjoy it!) renewing the simple joy of the process. And days when I don’t feel good enough, choose to sit down and write anyway – sometimes this is a challenge in itself!