Interview with Award-Winning Author Marion Dane Bauer

Get to know Marion…

Marion Dane Bauer is the author of more than 80 books, ranging from board books and picture books through easy readers, both fiction and nonfiction, and middle-grade and young-adult novels, including her Newbery Honor title in 1987 for On My Honor. She was one of the founders and the first Faculty Chair of the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults. To learn more, visit her website.

Let the conversation begin!

What initially drew you to writing? 

I seem to have been born with my head full of stories. I used to come home with a line on my report card under a category called “deportment,” which said, “Marion dreams.” It was not a compliment. But I went on making up stories in my head, and gradually, gradually I gathered my courage and began to try to write them down. 

Outliner or seat-of-the-pants writer?

I’m something in between the two. I rarely outline, but I never start out writing without knowing who my main character is, what his or her problem will be that precipitates my story, who the surrounding characters are who will either help or hinder the main character, and–this piece is crucial–what a resolution to the story problem will feel like. (When I know that, I know why I’m writing my story, though I have never expressed that knowledge as a theme. That’s for teachers and other literary critics to do after the fact.)  I usually also know what the story’s climactic moment will be, the crisis which will bring my character very close to failure and, ultimately, to that feeling resolution I have already set as the bull’s eye I’m aiming for. 

Do you begin with character or plot? 

The two are inseparable in my thinking. Plot is a created from a character who struggles with a problem. A dramatic plot rises out of that character, out of her history and her psyche and her relationships. A melodramatic one is imposed upon him from the outside. 

Tell us about the book you’re working on.

I have just finished a novel in verse called Little Dog, Lost to be published by Atheneum in the summer of 2012. Now I am working on two projects:  One is a young-adult novel called Blue-Eyed Wolf, which will bring together the destruction of the wolves in northern Minnesota in the mid-sixties with an older brother who enlists and goes off to the Vietnam War. The other is a second-grade-level early reader on the state of Florida, the first of a series. I move between the two.  I set the novel aside when I need to gather my ideas or solve a problem in the story movement and turn to the more mechanical research for the small nonfiction book.

What would you like your life to look like in ten years? 

I am 72, so that simple fact narrows my ideas about ten years from now.  I would like still to be healthy, still to be writing. And I would like my world still to be here and to hold even a fraction of the rich possibilities for my grandchildren that it once held for me. 

If this was your last day on Earth, what would you do? 

I would sit down to write the deepest thoughts of my heart for all the people I love.

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Author Interview with P.J. Hoover

Get to know P.J….

P. J. Hoover first fell in love with Greek mythology in sixth grade thanks to the book Mythology by Edith Hamilton. After a fifteen year bout as an electrical engineer designing computer chips for a living, P. J. decided to take her own stab at mythology and started writing books for kids and teens. P. J. is also a member of THE TEXAS SWEETHEARTS & SCOUNDRELS.

When not writing, P. J. spends time with her husband and two kids and enjoys practicing Kung Fu, solving Rubik’s cubes, and watching Star Trek. Her first novel for teens, Solstice, takes place in a Global Warming future and explores the parallel world of mythology beside our own. Her middle grade fantasy novels, The Emerald Tablet, The Navel of the World, and The Necropolis, chronicle the adventures of a boy who discovers he’s part of two feuding worlds hidden beneath the sea. To learn more, visit her website.

Let the conversation begin!

What initially drew you to writing?

I wasn’t the kid who wrote all the time. In fact, I always figured I could never find enough words to fill a book. That said, I always loved reading, especially science fiction and fantasy. Around the time my second kid was born, all the Lord of the Rings movies were coming out and I was hugely into Tolkien. I loved them and watched them and read everything I could about the series. But then it struck me one day that rather than invest so much of my thoughts in someone else’s world, why not create my own? So I started writing!

When are you the most productive?

Before I quit my day job, I was most productive at night. Now, I find mid-morning to be the best time. I get email and stuff out of the way and then have a few good hours before I need to pick up my kids from school. I used to write at night, but now I mostly read in the evenings. It’s such a nice way to end the day!

Are your characters completely fictional?

Completely fictional. SOLSTICE is my fourth published novel and so I’ve gotten most of the urge to write people I know out of my stories. I mean, sure, probably every character I write has a bit of me in them, but for the most part, they come from the conglomeration of thoughts inside my brain.

What book was the easiest to write? Hardest?

SOLSTICE was by far the easiest book to write. The basic story flowed so well, I thought I would never capture that flow again. And I loved every bit of writing it. As for the hardest to write, I’ve had a couple works-in-progress since writing SOLSTICE that have been more painful, but I have to keep reminding myself that nothing (nothing!) is perfect the first time it’s written.

What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

The best advice I’ve received is to allow yourself to write rubbish in a first draft. It’s important to get the words down. After they are down, they can be changed and moved and reshaped into anything. But if they never make it onto the page in the first place, they’ll never become published. 

pj_hoover

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Author Interview with Alyssa Liljequist

Get to know Alyssa…

Alyssa Liljequist is an 18-year-old homeschool graduate who loves God and others. She is also a freelance writer whose work has been published by a variety of online and print publications. To learn more, read her blog

Let the conversation begin! 

Tell us about the book you’re working on.

I have two partial manuscripts that I’m working on. One is set during WWII and the other is set during the Civil War. The one set during the Civil War is about a Southern young lady who appears normal but is actually a spy. This novel is my longest work-in-progress. I started with the basic idea above when I was only around 14 years old. It has since seen a major overhaul but is still not finished. I’m currently trying to find an agent for my finished middle grade novel that is set during the Klondike Gold Rush. I just can’t get away from historical fiction, it seems!

Who inspires you and how are you a bit like them?

Well, besides Jesus (the Ultimate Inspiration!), the apostle Paul inspires me. His heart for the lost and the way he invested his life in reaching people with the Gospel is so inspiring. I’m a bit like him in that God has given me a passion for reaching the unreached with the Gospel. I hope to use media (filmmaking, writing) on the mission field someday.

What advice would you give to new writers?

It feels a little funny to be answering this one since I’m not an “old” writer myself. But there’s always someone newer, right? My advice is to do your best but not obsess. Put your heart into your writing but realize that there comes a time to stop writing and revising and start sending your work out! Once you’ve taken the bold step of submitting your writing to publications, agents, and/or publishers, try not to take rejection personally. It’s hard. It can make you lose confidence in your writing. When you do finally receive a positive response to your work, remember that feeling. Other people are reading your writing…and liking it. That’s worth risking rejection for.

The work is done. How do you recharge?

Is the work ever done :)? I actually sometimes need a reminder to take time to relax and recharge. One of the most relaxing things for me is watching TV shows. I could say it’s helping to prepare me to be a better filmmaker…but that’s not the reason I watch them. This might be a good place to point out that while I am definitely a writer, I love filmmaking as well and hope to major in a communications (with an emphasis on video production) degree. I also enjoy listening to music, reading books, and playing Mario Kart Wii with my dad and two younger brothers.

Easier to write before or after you were published?

This is an interesting question. The upside to having experience with freelance writing and publication is that I’ve learned how to write under pressure, meet deadlines, and edit. The downside is that I feel I may have lost some of my imaginative creativity in my effort to write “publishable” material. Before I was published, I didn’t have to worry about others reading my work. It didn’t matter how silly my story sounded since it was just for me and my mom to read. I need to allow myself to continue dreaming up crazy stories. 

To purchase Deadly Delirium, click here. (You may have to scroll down a bit until you see it.) 

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Author Interview with Linda McQuinn Carlblom

LindaGet to know Linda…

Linda McQuinn Carlblom is a Jesus follower and children’s author. Her books include Bible Blessings for Bedtime, the Camp Club Girls books that feature Bailey, and Interactive Children’s Sermons, 52 Messages from the Psalms. She’s a regular blogger on the Christian Children’s Author web page, and on her own personal blog, Parenting With a Smile.

Besides keeping busy with her writing, Linda is the children’s minister at Lakeshore Bible Church. She lives with her husband and youngest daughter in Tempe, Arizona and can be easily bribed to do most anything with a slice of cheesecake. 

Let the conversation begin!

What initially drew you to writing?

I started writing in high school. Mostly just poems to vent my emotions. I found it helped me process life if I wrote things down. I considered writing for publication in my twenties when my husband and I were thinking of starting a family. I wanted to do something to make money from home so I could be a stay-at-home mom.

How many words do you write each day?

I don’t have a set number of words I write each day. I don’t even write every day! I know some writers would think that’s terrible, but that’s how it works for me. Raising a family and now having older parents takes time and a flexible schedule. Writing comes after the needs of my family. I believe God honors that. So I usually spend a good chunk every Monday writing since my critique group meets on Tuesday morning.

Are you an outliner or a seat-of-the-pants writer?

Definitely an outliner, though it’s a loose outline! I just write a few sentences about what I want to have happen in each chapter. This doesn’t mean I can’t change things as I go, but it does give me direction as I write. If I hit a point where I don’t know what to have my characters do or say next, I go back to my outline and review what I wanted to have happen in that chapter. It usually gets me back on track. 

When are you the most productive?

I’m most productive in the morning after I get my daughter off to school. I tend to get sleepy in the afternoon and sitting at a computer doesn’t help that! 

What do you do to recharge your creative batteries?

I read a book by an author I love or simply take a break from the writing, even if it’s just to lay on the bed for a half hour or so. Somehow, relaxing my mind always brings me fresh ideas. Also, getting out into the sunshine or doing something to help someone really seems to put things in perspective and recharges my battery. Being with other creative people like my critique group is another thing that revs me up. 

What book was the easiest to write? Hardest?

My first book, Interactive Children’s Sermons, 52 Messages from the Psalms, was probably the easiest. I was giving weekly children’s messages at my church where the kids would come up front and sit with me while I talked to them. I had used other books for my material, but eventually ran out. So I started writing my own. It seemed easy because it was something I had to do to be ready for each week’s talk. Before I knew it, I had a whole book! The hardest was probably the last Camp Club Girls book, Bailey and the Florida Mermaid Park Mystery, (to be released in Nov. 2011) because I was getting tired of writing about the same characters and keeping them fresh. Also, I had very tight deadlines on the last couple CCG books, so that made it very challenging.

Was it easier to write before or after you were published?

A little of both! I wrote my first book not knowing how difficult it usually is to get published. So I didn’t have the concerns about getting published that I might now. But now that I’ve been published I write with more confidence than I used to. I’m also not as afraid to write in my own voice, which was difficult to find as a new writer. 

Are your characters completely fictional?

My characters are usually composites of real people I know. I might take the looks of one person and the personality of another and the sense of humor of someone else and meld them all into one character. 

Where do you get your ideas?

Ideas are everywhere! In conversations I overhear, newspaper articles, dreams I have, pure imagination, things people say to me. You get the idea! 

What advice would you give young writers?

Learn the craft of writing. Go to classes or conferences or critique groups and listen to the advice you’re given. Grow a thick skin so you don’t take rejections from publishers personally. Be tenacious. Write, revise, rewrite, submit and resubmit. Believe in your story and your message. Don’t be afraid to show your work to someone who can help you polish it up. 

What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

I’m not sure if it qualifies as advice or not, but I was encouraged by some fellow writers to attend a Christian writers conference. It was the best thing I could have done to learn the craft of writing and to make solid connections with other writers, editors, and agents. It gave me a foot in the door when it came to submitting my manuscript to publishers because I’d already met them and gotten their OK to submit to them.

One other piece of advice I received that totally changed the way I thought of myself was to tell people I was a writer. If someone asked what I did for a living I told them I was a writer. It sounds so simple, but when those words came out of my mouth, I started believing that I really was a writer. There is power in the spoken word. 

Tell us about the book you’re working on.

I’m currently working on a fiction book for boys aged 8-12. There isn’t much out there for Christian boys to read other than action or mystery. My book is what I like to call “tasteful gross humor.” Is that an oxymoron? There are spiritual undertones, but it’s a book a kid could give his unbelieving friend and not be worried that he’ll be turned off by Christian terms or preachiness. It’s funny and gross in the best possible ways!

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Author Interview with Marc Tyler Nobleman

Get to know Marc…

Marc Tyler Nobleman is the author of more than 70 books for young people of all ages. His picture book Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman is the first biography in any format for any age on the two young men who dreamed up the world’s first superhero. The book received multiple starred reviews and made the front page of USA Today for a discovery Marc made during his research. His book on the “secret” behind the creation of Batman comes out in July 2012. Other titles include Vanished: True Stories of the Missing and two books called Vocabulary Cartoon of the Day.

He has written extensively for Nickelodeon and is also a cartoonist whose work has appeared in about 100 international publications including The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Good Housekeeping, the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series, and 94 more you’ve never heard of. He’s been invited around the world to speak at schools, libraries, conferences, and even a business lunch or two. On his blog, he reveals the behind-the-scenes stories of his books, from uplifting research moments to unconventional promotional efforts. To purchase his books, visit his Amazon page.

Let the conversation begin!

Would you rather publish a string of mainstream books or one classic? 

If by “classic” you mean a book that continues to be read after I’m gone, then I’d say a classic! (One of the greatest compliments my book Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman got in a review was when Families Online wrote it was “sure to become a classic example of the genre.” So check back with me in 100 years.

Do you begin with character or plot? 

With fiction, plot. With nonfiction, sometimes plot but sometimes personality.

Tell us about the book you’re working on.

I’m usually working on more than one project at once, but the one I’m pushing hardest on at the moment is a nonfiction picture book called Thirty Minutes Over Oregon. It’s a riveting, little-known WWII story about the only time an enemy plane has bombed a U.S. state (Pearl Harbor wasn’t mainland—and Hawaii wasn’t yet a state). One reason few know about it is because the bombs didn’t kill anybody; warped, right? This historic incident is interesting enough on its own to inspire a book, but what sold it for me was that twenty years later, the Japanese pilot, Nobuo Fujita, nervously accepted an invitation to return to the town he almost hit, Brookings, Oregon—and this set off a thirty-year friendship. Nobuo came back three more times and invited three American high schoolers to Japan, all expenses paid. It’s one of the most poignant stories of reconciliation I’ve come across, and I have gone to great lengths (at least by my standards) to see it get published. 

Favorite quote?  

It takes only one yes to make 100 “nos” go away. It’s my career philosophy.

What advice would you give to new writers?

Start young. Seize every possible moment of inspiration. Read your writing aloud; the eye can be fooled but the ear can’t. Read a lot and jot down any idea you get as soon as you get it. Ask someone you trust—not someone who is afraid to be critical—to read your work. Be persistent. Then be persistent again. And again.

What do you consider to the most valuable thing you own?

No question: my health.

What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

Do not start a story with a person waking up. Want to guess why?

What’s the first item on your bucket list?

It was skydiving till I did it. One of the next was host Saturday Night Live. Still waiting on that one.

The work is done. How do you recharge?

The work is never done! But if I allow myself a break, I love to go for a run while listening to music. Running and writing go well together—both solitary, both invigorating, both something we all start to learn to do from a young age but can refine with practice.

What book was the easiest to write? Hardest? 

At the beginning of my writing career, I wrote some books for the school and library market; they did not allow for creativity nor was I expected to break new ground. Those were fairly easy to write. The hardest was probably Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman, which is out in July 2012. It was hard in terms of research (most of the people I had to track down and interview were in their late 70s or older) and the logistics of getting it published.

What element would you add to your writing space if money wasn’t an issue?

A question I’ve never been asked! I’d say a standing desk. But I can see that answer changing regularly. Next week I might say an ice sculpture.

Easier to write before or after you were published?

Getting published, as you would expect, only intensifies your desire to write more—and, if you’re lucky, intensifies your willingness to challenge yourself.

What is your secret talent?

It’s not exactly a talent, and I should probably let it stay a secret, but I am pretty good about catching blueberries in my mouth. Not a lot of career potential in that one.

What’s one rule you’re dying to break?

Good question again! In a way, the way I responded to the editorial feedback for Thirty Minutes Over Oregon (see above) was breaking a rule—that’s not how authors normally (a) respond to rejection or (b) pitch books.

If you could spend a vacation with three authors, who would they be? 

Jerry Siegel, Bill Finger, Rod Serling. Oh, vacation? Not just a night…hmm…that might change things…

Daily word count?

Do e-mails count?

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Author Interview with Kendare Blake

81Xs8tQdiDL._SL1500_Get to know Kendare…

Kendare Blake is an import from South Korea who was raised in the United States by caucasian parents. You know, that old chestnut. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Business from Ithaca College and a Master’s degree in Writing from Middlesex University in London. She brakes for animals, the largest of which was a deer, which sadly didn’t make it, and the smallest of which was a mouse, which did, but it took forever. Amongst her likes are Greek Mythology, rare red meat and veganism. She also enjoys girls who can think with the boys like Ayn Rand, and boys who scare the morality into people, like Bret Easton Ellis. For more info, visit her website.

Let the conversation begin!

Would you rather publish a string of mainstream books or one classic?

What Classic are we talking? Did I write To Kill A Mockingbird? Or Catcher in theRye? Because I’d be okay with that. After you wrote one of those books, you’d be chasing your own tail. Couldn’t top it. Might as well adopt a goat and join a Sherpa group in the Himalayas.

Do you begin with character or plot?

Usually character. I like to learn who a person is before they drag me about on random adventures.

Tell us about the book you’re working on.

Well, at the moment I’m doing final page proofs for GIRL OF NIGHTMARES, the end of the ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD series. But a few days ago, I finished the first round of edits for ANTIGODDESS, which is about Greek gods in present day. They’re each dying horrible deaths. It’s sort of Greek meets dystopia. Meets love story. It comes out in 2013.

What is your favorite quote? And why?

Happiness is the longing for repetition- Milan Kundera. Because it’s true.

What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

Push yourself. Learn and grow as a writer. Change your style. Write ambitiously. We should always be evolving, always adding new tools to the kit, new tricks to the bag. Do you ever have that idea, that novel you want to write, but in your gut you know you’re not ready to write it? Not quite there yet? That feeling, and those ideas, should never go away. Otherwise what’s the point?

What one word describes you? Why?

Jackass. No, I’m kidding. I have no idea.

What book was the easiest to write? Hardest?

Whatever book I’m working on at the time seems the hardest. It’s like being at school, when your classes get harder and harder, and you think how bad it sucks, until the next semester, when you look back and wish for those past classes.

In grade school, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to train Thoroughbred race horses. I had this idea that it would be cool to win big races with fillies. Which are young girl horses. Boys get all the attention.

Easier to write before or after you were published?

So far, it hasn’t made a difference. Sometimes having real deadlines helps keep me from a naturally procrastinative state. Only I usually end up setting my own deadlines anyway, so I guess not.

What is your secret talent?

I’m pretty good at Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.

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Interview with Newbery Medal Winner Cynthia Kadohata

cynthiaGet to know Cynthia…

Cynthia Kadohata spends most of the work day sitting in front of her computer writing and wasting time in equal measure. She hardly ever goes out because she hates to drive and has a hard time judging her right side, which you would know if you ever saw the right side of her 1988 Volvo. Nearly the only time she leaves the house is to walk her Doberman and her poodle mix — separately. She is currently in a desperate battle against caffeine addiction. She has spent approximately $1,587,937 on Legos. Her eight-year-old son and her dogs have the energy of ten NBA stars between them — that’s why she needs caffeine. In short, her life is very nearly perfect. To learn more, visit her website.

Let the conversation begin!

Would you rather publish a string of mainstream books or one classic?

Wow, this is a hard one. On the one hand, I’d like to choose the string of mainstream books because I have an 8-year-old son to support, and I’d like to do it through writing. On the other hand, if I had a classic, he could be getting the royalties for it after I die.  So either one works for me. From a purely writing perspective and not thinking about practical life issues, I’d definitely choose the classic. 

If you could only write one more book, what would it be about? 

Dogs. 

Do you begin with character or plot?

Usually I just begin with a snippet of something that has really caught my attention in a big way. It may be just a couple of sentences someone has said to me, and my mind just goes PING, and I know this is something I have to write about. Then I just do research on the subject matter and let everything kind of arrange itself in my mind. So I don’t really start with either character or plot, but rather with letting a mix of details and issues and emotional moments and phrases and sentences interact in my brain.

Tell us about the book you’re working on

It’s about a Japanese-American family based in Kansas working on a custom harvesting team cutting mostly wheat for farmers across the Great Plains.

What is your favorite quote?

So many people have said so many brilliant things over the years, but when asked this question I usually say: “Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is the truth,” (Gandhi). I love this quote because it’s so easy to give in to the beliefs of the day instead of staying true to your own beliefs.

Describe your perfect day. 

Getting Sammy off to school, having a good writing day when I feel like I’m really coming up with good stuff instead of stuff I’m going to end up deleting, walking my dogs on a 70-degree afternoon under blue skies with a few puffy white clouds, doing Sammy’s homework with him without him having a meltdown, watching the Lakers versus the Clippers with my boyfriend, and talking and lying in bed with Sammy until he falls asleep.

Best thing that happened to you this weekend?

Last weekend I was sick, so nothing good happened. This coming weekend, any of the above from my perfect day would be great.

Who inspires you and how are you a bit like them? 

This changes day by day, and even then there are many people in a day who inspire me. If I’m not writing well for a long time, this makes me have lower self-esteem, and just about every ant on the ground inspires me. But if I’m feeling normal, it does depend on what just happened. At the moment, I’m inspired by friend, Amy, whom I’ve known since fourth grade. I had a major issue to deal with, and she helped me through it like the wonderful and generous friend she is.

If you were an animal, who would you be?

Dogs, because they live in the moment and seem to be in a naturally happy state. They love unconditionally, and they’re full of energy and life force. Of course, my very strong Doberman is a bit too full of energy, perhaps! And because their sense of smell is so astonishing.  I would love to know what that feels like and how that changes your world view.

KiraWhere do you get your ideas? 

From everywhere. I got the idea for the book I’m writing now (which should be out in early 2013) from a maybe one-minute casual exchange with someone I hardly know. We were at an award ceremony in Kansas for my book Cracker, and the woman running the events said a couple of sentences to me, and I said a couple of sentences to her, and that was it. I’m also going to be writing a book about adopting from Kazakhstan, where I adopted my son from. I had several stories in The New Yorker in the 1980s, and those were inspired mostly by my family.

What advice would you give to new writers? 

I did many interviews for Cracker with a retired Special Forces soldier who had been in numerous highly dangerous situations. He said one of the things he learned was that a sixth sense was real. He had a highly developed intuition. So I would advise a new writer to learn as much as s(he) can through reading and through some traditional avenues like reading the best books on writing out there, but also to develop an intuition for finding the right words to use.

Weirdest food you’ve ever eaten? 

I haven’t traveled a lot outside the country, so I haven’t really eaten any foods that might be considered weird to an American. Pigeon in Hong Kong might be the weirdest, but it sure tasted good. There have been a handful of times in my life when I’ve eaten sushi in a restaurant I’d never eaten in before, and I became violently ill later.  But you know how if you stare at a word long enough or write it over and over, the words starts to look weird? It’s kind of the same with food. If you take, say, one of those immense Subway sandwiches and look at it long enough, it starts to look pretty weird.  I don’t know if it’s still made, but Sammy used to like this two-colored yogurt that looked really strange to me.  So I’ve eaten that before.  Sometimes I walk down the cereal aisle looking for cereal for Sammy, and some of that stuff looks like it came from another planet.  I’ve tried some of it.  But I mean Lucky Charms?  I’ve eaten that, and it’s got colored pieces of who-knows-what in it.  Why eat blue food? That’s just plain weird.

What do you consider to the most valuable thing you own?

Well, I don’t want to be morbid, but the ashes of two of my previous dogs, Sara and Shika. I tied a lock of my hair around each of their necks before having them cremated.

What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received? 

Make a mess, then clean it up.

What one word describes you?

I can’t think of one. But did you ever see that Gary Larson Far Side cartoon that was called something like The Four Personality Types?  I may be getting this wrong, but basically the first panel had a glass of water on the table. A lady was joyously proclaiming, “The glass is half full.”  Then the next panel had a depressed man saying, “The glass is half empty.” The third panel had someone saying, “Half full!  No, half empty! Wait, what was the question again?”  And the last panel had a guy saying something like, “Hey, I ordered a hamburger.” I’m like the third person.

What would you like your life to look like in ten years? 

I love my life now, but there are a few areas in desperate need of improvement. But those are pretty personal, so I won’t say anything about it here. I do hope Sammy is a young man filled with compassion. I feel really proud of him when I see him doing or saying something compassionate. Professionally, I’ve always wanted ten books in print at the same time.

Most embarrassing moment? 

Gosh….how old is your audience? I don’t think I should say….I will say that I actually still get teased about it decades after the fact. 

The work is done. How do you recharge?   

Actually, I need to continually recharge during the writing. When the book is done I’m elated and don’t need to recharge. 

What book was the easiest to write?

They all seem so hard during the writing stage. It’s very frustrating at times. I don’t know why I have such a compulsion to do it. 

Do you let anyone read your work-in-progress?

Now and then I let someone read a work-in-progress. But I really don’t like to do that. I prefer to focus on my editor’s take on things.  My agent has also been very helpful. They’re both brilliant women. 

Outliner or seat-of-the-pantser? 

Depends on the book, but I tend toward being an outliner. 

What element would you add to your writing space if money wasn’t an issue? 

I’m kind of oblivious to my surroundings when I write, so I don’t know how to answer that. I’ve got two dogs sleeping behind me, some plants, and a very light room. So that’s pretty perfect.  I do wish I had more space for shelves, and I would love a magic genie to keep my desk neater. In grad school I had a very small writing space, and it didn’t really bother me. But if my overall living space is tiny, that does drive me insane. I sublet an apartment in New York once that was about two inches by two inches, and I felt at times that I was going to lose my mind. 

How long do you take to write a book? 

Different amounts of time. I’m always aiming for a year for each book, but that rarely happens. 

Easier to write before or after you were published? 

Before! Absolutely and without a doubt. 

Earliest childhood memory? 

The milkman bringing my sister, my brother, and me striped gum.  Or moving from here to there with my family and constantly eating and sleeping on the road.

What initially drew you to writing? 

It was just a ravenous hunger that existed in every cell in my body.  I don’t know where the hunger came from or why. 

If you could spend a vacation with three authors, who would they be?

I don’t know if I would want to spend a vacation with three authors I don’t know, even if I adored their books. So it would have to be three authors I already know and click with, except for I hardly know any authors, and I don’t know any authors at all very well.  Maybe the poet Garrett Hongo, the children’s writer Eileen Rosenbloom, and the short-story writer and memoirist James Alan McPherson. I don’t know any of them well, so I’m sure they’d be quite surprised if I invited them on a vacation. Although the more I think about it, the more I think we’d all have a good time. 

Daily word count? 

Today? Zero. There’s no typical day.  Zero to 1,500, I guess.

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Author Interview with Linda Joy Singleton

Get to know Linda…

Linda Joy Singleton is the author of over 35 books for kids, including YALSA honored THE SEER series and DEAD GIRL WALKING trilogy. She submitted short stories to magazines when she was 14 and finished her first book during a 2-week holiday. She kept stories she wrote as a kid and loves to share them when in her school presentations. Her childhood 100-book collection of girl series books like Nancy Drew, Judy Bolton and Trixie Belden grew to an adult passion and now thousands of juvenile series books fill her home library. A fan letter at age 13 led to her friendship with author Margaret Sutton and later a co-written Judy Bolton mystery. When she was 14 she wrote a goal of wanting to write a series of her own–and it happened. She encourages kids, “Follow your dreams no matter how impossible they seem. With hard work and determination, dreams come true.” To learn more, visit her website.

Let the conversation begin!

What initially drew you to writing? 

I wrote as a kid because I loved to read. No one suggested I write, it was just something I knew that I needed to do.  

What was your favorite book to write? 

Each book I write drives me a little crazy in the middle so I’m not sure that any book is my favorite. I have great and terrible moments in writing every book. I remember really enjoy the first THE SEER, DON’T DIE DRAGONFLY, because Sabine was different than my other heroines and I really enjoyed getting to know her.  

Who is your favorite author? 

Margaret Sutton who was my idol and friend as a teen. Currently I love so many authors that it’s hard to choose. Check my Goodreads for a list of all the great books I’ve read (the ones with 5 stars are my favorites). 

Where do you get your ideas? 

Usually ideas just come to me out of dreams or daydreams. Sometimes it’s because of something I saw on a news broadcast, like when I wrote about clones. Since I love mysteries, writing about psychics solving mysteries was natural for me. I keep an idea file where I tuck all the ideas that I can’t write yet. I have a very thick file!  

Tell us about the book you’re working on. 

I’m writing a futuristic mystery about a girl who lives in a secluded island community where scientists keep them so healthy no one grows old. I’ve written 160 pages; over halfway through. This is plotted as a trilogy with complex drama, secrets and romance.   

What advice would you give young writers? 

Have fun with writing. Don’t rush to self-publish, even though you will hear stories of some writers who find success by publishing your own book. If I had self-published, I would have missed all the helpful comments through my rejections and critiques. I wouldn’t have kept rewriting and trying new books. I have about ten books that never sold, and that’s okay because I write much better now. Learn the craft of writing rather than rush into having a book published. I respect and value all the lessons I’ve learned from my critique group(s) and from editors.   

What is the most valuable advice you’ve ever received?

To give myself permission to write “garbage” and just finish the book then come back later for rewriting.   

When are you the most productive? 

Morning girl here. I seldom write at night. I love mornings!   

Are your characters completely fictional? 

My characters are fiction with only 5% of real life mixed in — well except for Dominic. He’s based on my hubby.   

What is your dream vacation? 

I would love to take a cruise toAustralia. I read a book called Golden Urchin by Madeleine Brent which made me really want to seeAustraliasomeday. I love everything by this author (who was actually a man that wrote Modesty Blaise).  

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