I thought it might be fun to do something a little different and answer some questions about the ‘behind the scenes’ of my life as an author. I’ll start with these five questions I’ve been asked by various readers or in guest post interviews over the past few years. Pending whether people find this interesting or not (or how much I’m stuck for content idea :p) I’ll probably do more of these in the future but we’ll see how we go 🙂
So, without further ado, let the Q&A begin!
This was actually a really easy choice, which pretty much came down to two things—my personality and perfectionism.
I watched some people self-publish pretty early on in my own journey to publication and, while I was left with the greatest respect for them, realised pretty quickly that it wasn’t for me. Marketing and cost aside, there were just so many details and things to learn and keep track of (not to mention do well) which were so far out of my realm of understanding and ability at the time. I’m someone who loves being part of a team and is well aware (and appreciative) of the fact that each of us have our gifts and weaknesses. I knew my gifts, I knew my weaknesses, and they didn’t mix well with self-publishing.
Alongside the practicalities, though, I also really appreciate the vote of confidence that comes with a traditional publisher believing me and my work are worth their time, money and the reputation of their name. That means a lot.
Do you have the plot and character development already laid out before you begin writing a book or do they develop as you write? (Or, in author-speak, are you a Plotter or a Pantser?)
I’m actually a bit of both. Before I start writing a book, I have a basic outline of the main points/scenes, a pretty clear picture in my head of who the main character and their love interest are, and what kind of transformation the main character will go through. So really, about as much detail as you’d get in a blurb, plus the ending. Enough to get me headed in the right direction and hit all the highlights (or lowlights, as they may be) but not much more than that. The rest of the details—scenes, side characters, backstory, dialogue, etc—come while I’m actually writing.
So, for example, before starting Heart of a Princess, I knew that Alina would be sent to live at a farm or ranch of some kind (though not how or why) and be thrown completely out of her comfort zone (in some way), which would force her to face her fears/anxieties (which I was still figuring out), and in turn bring her to that moment where she realised she didn’t have to have it all together, and broken didn’t mean bad. Also that she and Joha would completely clash, until they each saw more of the other person’s side of the story. And then they’d have no idea what to do with that begrudging admiration since Alina is engaged to Marcos.
And that was about it, bar a few scenes I already had in my head (the gazebo scene, the eavesdropping/duck scene, and the scene with her father and the missing pink gown). The rest came (and was wrestled through) as I started writing.
How do you handle Writer’s Block?
I handle the dreaded Writer’s Block a few ways, depending on the situation and what’s causing it.
If it’s because my brain is too tired and has well and truly shut down for the day, I close my computer and give the writing a break. Otherwise I just start deleting perfectly good writing because I’m grumpy. Ha! I’ll do something completely different like play Lego with my kids, watch a movie, go outside, or do one of the million other things on my to-do list.
If it’s because I’m creatively drained or feeling stuck on how to solve a plot point, I’ll often take a break and read a fiction book. Whether it is in the same genre as I’m writing or not, for some reason, I always seem to be inspired again to write. It’s like, in reading and enjoying a book, I’m reminded again of the joy of story and the difference it can make in a person’s life. Occassionally, it’s also because something in that story triggers an idea for my own, albeit a scene, a theme, or a way of writing.
If I’m on a deadline or need/want to reach a particular word count and have no excuse to stop writing apart from the fact that I’m bored, or don’t know where to go next, I skip the action beats and descriptions and go with straight dialogue. I love writing dialogue. It’s by far my favorite part of writing stories so comes fairly easily. I’m also a big fan of swapping to a different scene of the book if one in particular is giving me trouble. I’ll leave a note and come back to it later. I take the idea of “write what you know” very literally. If I don’t know what to write in one scene but do another, I’ll write the one I know.
Okay, two fun questions to finish off with. Do you have any interesting writing quirks?
I’m not sure whether I’d call it a quirk or not but I rarely write my first draft in chronological order. If I have a scene in mind, I’ll write that one, whether or not it comes next in the story. I’ll also skip to different parts of the story if I get stuck in one. I stop doing this when I’ve written about 60-70% of the first draft and start back at the start, working chronologically to both fill in the gaps and make sure all the scenes still fit.
What’s the strangest place you’ve ever had a great writing idea?
Brushing my teeth. I don’t know if it’s because it’s such a mindless activity but I often have major plot point breakthroughs while brushing my teeth.
Hope you’ve enjoyed this little mini interview with me. Anything surprise you in these answers? Anyone have any other questions for me? 🙂