The author of eight novels for kids, Dia Calhoun was awarded the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature for her young adult novel ARIA OF THE SEA. Her books FIREGOLD, and WHITE MIDNIGHT are ALA Best Books for Young Adults. ReviewingCalhoun’s most recent book, AFTER THE RIVER THE SUN, School Library Journal wrote—“Lovers of gaming and Arthurian legends will thoroughly enjoy this one.” Calhoun is a co-founder of readergirlz which received the Innovations in Reading Prize from the National Book Foundation. Her interest in inspiration and creativity led her to write the popular weekly 7:30 BELLS blog series. Calhoun offers private coaching in creative writing to kids and adults. Learn more at her blog.
What’s the biggest inconvenience about where you live?
There are not enough trees in the part of Tacoma where I live. This lack is the direct cause of shrunken soul syndrome.
If you could own a store, what sorts of things would you sell?
I would own the Poetry Candy Store and sell imagination gumdrops, metaphor bars, inspiration lollypops, and malted muses.
What was your favorite meal when you were growing up?
Fish and Chips from The Spud on Alki Beach. Still is.
What do you do every day, without fail?
What is something you wish you did every day, without fail?
If you could dis-invent one thing, what would it be?
What makes you want to throw up?
What makes you laugh until tears roll down your cheeks?
What do you wish someone would give you?
More years of being alive on this great, good earth—preferably in a tree house with hot water and no internet connection.
Do you ever feel that you have to censor your creativity because you don’t want to offend anyone?
Only on social media.
Do you do anything special to get your creative juices flowing?
When working on a project, I try to write everyday, even if only for a few minutes. That keeps the unconscious stew bubbling.
What are your words of wisdom for someone starting out in the field of writing?
Make a serious investment in pencils. Two years ago, after working almost exclusively on computer for many years, I rediscovered this most remarkable tool. It never magically erases all your work, if you lose it you can replace it for a quarter, it’s the ultimate in portability, and you never have to search for an outlet on a tree to plug it in. What freedom!
How would you define creativity?
Making art about being alive that gives someone else an experience of being alive.
Why were you drawn to a career in writing instead of to a job that might offer more stability and security?
Because I was stricken by the mad, bad moonlight.
What obstacles have you had to deal with in your career?
Talent, hard work, and commitment because they lead you to believing you might get somewhere when you really should focus on the joy of the work itself.
What are the biggest challenges you have faced in the realm of your art?
It has taken twenty years to learn that it doesn’t matter if anyone else ever enters the realm of my art. That a kingdom of one is just fine.
How did you pick your writing genre?
I haven’t picked it because it isn’t quite ripe yet.
What life experiences have inspired your work?
All of them.
How do you know when a book is finished?
When I have thrown it on the floor and stomped on it so many times, I can’t squash it any further.
What impact (good or bad) do you think the media has had on your work?
The media? None at all. Social media? Nightmare. Every artist now “must have” a social media presence to be viable. I’m not talking about blogging or websites, but Facebook, Twitter, etc. This demand for incessant, superficial connection with barely known friends is a dire threat to the sustained solitude and attention necessary to create art. I wish social media would die, die, die a horrible death.
When did you know for certain that you wanted to pursue a career in writing?
Ever since the second grade.
What traits do you think creative people have that others don’t?
Creative people have a more direct bridge between the conscious and unconscious minds. This is also why they so often jump of off it.