Edward Bloor is the author of many successful, fast-paced books. His newest book Memory Lane is now available as an e-reader. For more info, visit his website.
Let the conversation begin!
Of all your books, which was hardest to write?
My latest novel, Memory Lane, was the hardest. I spent my usual two years researching and writing it. However, even after five successful novels, I could not find a publisher. I tried rethinking the novel, and nearly consigned it to the proverbial bottom drawer, but then I saw a way. I published it myself electronically on Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com. Now it has a chance, which is all any of us can ask for.
Which book was the easiest?
London Calling was the easiest. I worked it out, at least in outline form, on a train ride from King’s Cross Station to York, about four hours. It included years of research on World War II, though.
Tell us about your newest book, Memory Lane.
Memory Lane is about a theme park (can you tell I live in Orlando?) where you get to re-live the happiest week of your life. Alice, who lost her father at age 3 and recently lost her mother, goes to the theme park to bond with her extended family. Ostensibly, they are reliving the week of her grandparents’ 50th anniversary. But this trip into the past reveals some shocking memories that were perhaps better left buried.
What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
Caroline Cooney once told me, in so many words: When writing for young adults, make sure your good guy is good; your bad guy is bad; and that your bad guy gets it in the end.
Tish is the bestselling author of Inside Out Girl and Town House, as well Little Black Lies for teens and the Zoe Lama series for middle graders. She has incredible wit and humor and all her novels are laced with exquisite characters who resolve real life issues. Be sure to check out her latest book, The Truth About Delilah Blue. For more info, visit her website.
Let the conversation begin!
What is your favorite aspect of writing?
My favorite aspect of writing is the actual writing. That might sound a bit simplistic, but there are so many other aspects to the job that a writer starts to prize the hours spent writing the actual book. Right now I am outlining a new book—which means I have to dream up the storyline without the benefit of knowing the characters. I’m not a fan of outlining, but I love to have a finished outline in hand. So until they sell them ready made on eBay, I’m stuck writing them myself.
When you begin a book, do you know the ending? Or do you like to figure out the plot as you go?
I don’t know the ending when I start my chapter outline, which, for me, is really the beginning of the book. But by the time I start to write, I have a pretty good idea of how the story will end. Right now I am re-doing the chapter outline for a book that is already written but in need of major renovations. I’m answering your questions to forget the terrifying fact that I have no idea how I’m going to end the book. I am running out of questions—can you send more?
I should add that even though I do write chapter outlines for my books, I rarely follow them closely. They wind up being more of a suggestion, as so many things change once I begin to write and see what works and what doesn’t.
Do you write best in the AM or PM? How many hours do you usually write?
I write best first thing in the morning, before I’ve dressed or brushed my hair or uttered a sound. Just open my eyes, make my way to the laptop and let the words out. Unfortunately, I don’t have that kind of freedom very often. Late at night can also be a great time to write. But one thing I’ve learned is that, for me, there is no perfect time or place to write. I’ve written in total seclusion at my cottage up north, I’ve written in a roomful of teenage boys watching (ugh) Jersey Shore, and I’ve written with a dear friend on the streets of New York beside a building that was being demolished. It all depends what the writing demands. I just show up.
Shahrukh is a writer with 20 published books—fiction and non-fiction for adults and children. Several are bestsellers and they’ve been translated into 14 languages). She has also written 11 commissioned screenplays (the movie of one was nominated for an Oscar and a BAFTA) and 2 performed plays. She is currently working on her first novel. For more info, visit her website.
Let the conversation begin!
Why did you begin writing?
I can’t remember when I didn’t write. It must have been when I was taught handwriting at school. Maybe that’s why Mark Twain’s words ring so true to me: ‘If we were taught to speak as we’re taught to write, we’d all be stammerers.’ I was allowed to write in the same way as I learned to speak…no restriction or control, or even thinking. It came into my head and I wrote. So the writing still comes easy.
Are you a seat-of-the pants writer or an outliner?
My natural inclination is to write the same way I did as a child and then rewrite. Screenwriting taught me how to outline carefully and write detailed treatments. Then, when I was writing regularly, I realized that in order to be commissioned before writing, I needed to present my ideas in a coherent form so that my publisher would get a clear idea of what they were committing to. Agents like that, too.
I liked the idea of getting a chunk of money in the bank to allow me to spend more time on my writing instead of grubbing around for other work to bankroll the writing. It has to be done when you start out but if you can help yourself by getting organized—even if it’s not what you’re about—then it not only fends off the stress but also gives you a solid base from which to begin.
For example, I could sweat for up to a month on a film treatment (around 12-15 pages) but when I came to actually writing the script, I sometimes wrote it in less than three weeks. Then I had a couple of months tinkering, shaping, molding, developing characters, sharpening scenes. That’s what I truly love.
Same goes for the retellings—a proposal meant I had my list of stories, my categories and the sources already and could go straight into writing. Some years ago I decided to write a novel in my own time—I did not plan it. It’s taken me literally years to get it right and I’m hoping the typescript will be ready at the end of this month. My advice is have a plan. It’s not graven in stone but you have a guide which keeps you roughly on track.
Do you work better working on one writing project at a time or numerous?
I fantasize about the luxury of writing one thing at a time but it’s not in my nature. I always work on more than one writing project at a time. A script and a rewrite, a long work alongside a small one or fiction with non-fiction.
The thing is, I always have many ideas on the boil and the release of creativity into one piece often causes lots of little geysers to spout all over the place. Holding them down means that my mind builds up a head of steam and then the whole thing starts boiling over and I have to get it on to paper. I have many, many, gorgeous little notebooks filled with ideas, paragraphs, thoughts. But one of them is demanding to be written so I do as I’m told. Then there’s the commissioned work and deadlines which must be obeyed and seem to overlap all the time. Chaos! But then that’s how the greatest creation, the cosmos began even in the earliest mythological accounts.
Amanda M. Thrasher was inspired to write A Fairy Match in the Mushroom Patch by her mother, whose house and garden were filled with fairies of all kinds. Born in England, Amanda moved to Fort Worth, Texas when she was 14 and still lives there. For more info, visit her website.
Let the conversation begin!
What motivated you to begin pursuing the journey of writing?
I truly am a writer by heart first, and an author second. I have written my entire life; I simply love words. I had absolutely no intentions of being an author, though I had written many manuscripts. To be in print, just to be there, was not a desire of mine.
My mother, who was incredibly ill, made a request of me that I was unable to refuse. She said, “Amanda, you write all of the time and send nothing in. Send in your work, if only for me.” She loved fairies and collected them all over her house and yard. I wrote Mischief in the Mushroom Patch for her, but she never saw it in print. I ran out of time.
I now truly believe the series was meant to be. I receive emails from strangers saying how Pearle’s story has opened the door for conversations around their homes in a lovely way. I had no idea.
What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
It came via my mentor. I am 44 years old, and have a mentor for the very first time. I consider her a gift. Her words were my ‘light bulb’ moment. First and foremost, she had nothing to gain and secondly I knew exactly what she meant. Her words were simply this: “Switch the switch and narrate the story,” (Anne Dunigan, my local Barnes & Noble CRM, turned mentor and friend).
She had read Mischief in the Mushroom Patch and loved the style in which I wrote. For me, she was the first person that truly believed in me without a single connection and had the professional knowledge to know the difference between good material and not. Her words touched me in such a professional magnitude that she changed the way I write.
Can you imagine words so powerful, they change the way you write? She was a Harcourt Editor and Production Manager with Harcourt for many years, and I wrote A Fairy Match in the Mushroom Patch with her words running through my mind continually.
She actually oversaw that book, and though Mischief in the Mushroom Patch was picked up by Barnes & Noble, Small Press Division, NY, A Fairy Match in the Mushroom Patch was picked up two weeks after release without a single sale. For small press, this was a big deal for me.
I write very descriptively and in a whimsical style. I see things in my mind’s eye before I write them in regards to the scenes I write. My mentor reminds me to narrate what I see and that, without a doubt, is the finest advice I have ever received.