Quite a lot of Anne Mazer’s writing education took place while she was unconscious. Her parents wanted desperately to become writers and made themselves get up at 4:00 a.m. Every morning in order to have writing time before their three young children awoke. The first thing Anne heard every day was two big, noisy electric typewriters. The furious sound of typing was her childhood wake-up music. During the day, her parents endlessly discussed ideas, plot, and character, and before she was seven years old, Anne knew about revisions, first and second drafts, and rejection slips. It was like growing up in a twenty four hour, seven day a week writer’s boot camp.
Anne is the author of forty-four books, including picture books (The Salamander Room), novels (The Oxboy, Moose Street), and two best-selling series (The Amazing Days of Abby Hayes; and Sister Magic). She edited four acclaimed anthologies which have been widely used in elementary through college classrooms. Her latest work is Spilling Ink: A Handbook for Young Writers, co-authored with Ellen Potter. For more info, visit her site and super cool Spilling Ink creativity blog with Ellen Potter.
Let the conversation begin!
Was it easier to write before or after you were published?
Interesting question! For me, it’s much easier to write AFTER publication because I take myself more seriously as a writer. Of course there’s a little more pressure, but the rewards far outweigh it.
Are your characters fictional?
When I imagine a character, I always begin with a real person in mind. That always helps me visualize him or her. Sometimes I combine traits from two or three people. Very early on, though, I let go of real history, and let the story take over. By the time I finish the book, my character is completely fictional.
What advice would you give young writers?
Funny you should ask! I co-wrote Spilling Ink: A Handbook for Young Writers with my friend Ellen Potter for all the kids who’ve ever asked “where do you get ideas?” and “how do I become a writer?” For those who don’t have the book handy, here are three quick but essential tips:
1. Read a lot! 2) Write regularly. 3) Pay attention to what’s around you.
What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
I used to think it was “Don’t give up” (from my mother), but now I like Ellen Potter’s “Do what’s fun for you.”
Daily word count?
I don’t have a clue! Word counts drive me crazy. I’m compulsive enough without them. All I try to do is work every day, five days a week, and try to move my story forward, at least by a line or two.
Outliner or seat-of-the-pantser?
I am definitely NOT an outliner. For me, outlines kill all the fun, scariness, and surprises of writing. I like to leap in and see what happens. But if outlines make you happy, you should definitely use them. It’s all about finding what works for you.
When are you the most productive?
Morning is my best time for writing new material. I can edit any time of the day.
What would you add to your writing space if money wasn’t an issue?
A tree house. With a slide into a pool…
What do you do to recharge your creative batteries?
Do something that’s a lot of fun, very new, and somewhat challenging.
Do you let anyone read your work-in-progress?
I’m usually pretty secretive, but I’ve gone out of my comfort zone to show w-i-p to my friend Ellen Potter.
If there is one genre you’d never write, what is it?
Any story with explicit violence and gore. I have no tolerance for it.
Would you rather publish a string of mainstream books or one classic?
A stream of books. Because some of those mainstream books really are classics!
Is there a genre you avoid?
I’m not overly fond of vampires, zombies, and the supernatural dead.
What initially drew you to writing?
It was always all about the books for me.
Do you begin with character or plot?
Both, really. One doesn’t make sense without the other.