Get to know Robin…
Robin Constantine is the author of The Promise of Amazing and The Secrets of Attraction (Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins Publishers) A born-and-raised Jersey girl, she spends her days dreaming up stories where love conquers all, eventually, but not without a lot of peril, angst, and the occasional kissing scene. When she’s not writing she enjoys movies, days at the beach and road trips. You can find her at her website.
What are you thinking about right now?
What one person or object best represents the 80’s?
What is the most shocking sight you’ve ever witnessed?
Once at a Bruce Springsteen concert, I saw a bunch of guys overturn a Porta-John while someone was inside. The door faced the ground, so the guy couldn’t escape without help. When they turned it upright, it took him awhile to come out. This was also before the concert so, one can only assume this poor guy had to go inside not exactly smelling like a rose. Only under extreme duress would I ever consider using one and if there were woods nearby, I’d take my chances there before stepping into a Porta-John.
What would you do if you wanted to annoy someone?
Empty my drink with a loud rattling sound.
What do you do too little of?
What latest trend simply baffles you?
If you had to choose, what is the most important quality in a relationship—humor, smarts, personality, looks, money, or mutual interests?
Humor. Looks fade, wealth can be fleeting, but make me laugh and I’m in it for the long haul.
If the plane you were flying in was about to crash, who would you like to be sitting beside?
My husband, because he’d probably crack a joke and/or pull a MacGyver. I’d also like to be kissed one last time.
If you could add one feature to your cell phone, what would it be?
Being able to teleport somewhere on a whim.
If you could own a store, what sorts of things would you sell?
Books and cupcakes.
Can you visualize a finished product before you begin a book?
Yes! This helps me on the days the words aren’t flowing that easily.
Do you feel that you chose your passion, or did it choose you?
A little of both, perhaps? I’ve always been drawn to books and stories – and even after time away, I’ve always come back. There are days I don’t feel completely passionate about writing, but I do it anyway and there are days I feel passionate about a story but the words won’t come. I think we chose each other, but need a break now and then!
Is there a particular place where you feel most creative?
I know I should have some fascinating answer but at least while I’m writing – I’m most creative when I’m home at my desk. When I’m thinking things through I love to be in a natural setting – staring at the ocean, walking through the park or taking in the scenery on a road trip all help my mind get out of the way of itself so the story idea can come out and play.
Who or what has helped you to persevere and not quit?
I took my first SCBWI workshop years ago with Penny Pollock who was so positive and nurturing she made me believe I could succeed in this writing business if I worked at it. One of the things she said always stuck with me – “It takes years.” You don’t hear that often and accepting that reality, knowing you can’t control how fast things happen, really helped me. She was very down to earth and realistic about the whole business and I think the hours I spent in that workshop formed the backbone of my own philosophy about writing and publishing. There’s no such thing as an overnight success – even when it appears that way.
I also have a ravaged copy of Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott – which I keep handy to read when I’m in the need for inspiration or a good laugh. So much fantastic writing (and life) wisdom in those pages. And I simply wouldn’t be able to cope without my writing buds.
What has been your greatest sacrifice that has enabled you to become the author you are today?
A social life – I’m only partly kidding. Also watching TV regularly – I’m like “Hey have you seen that show Friday Night Lights? And people are like…um, yeah, it ended a few years ago.” So, Yay, Netflix!
How do you balance your personal life and your creative endeavors?
I try and keep them as separate as possible. Of course, they intersect at times, but maintaining my “author” self apart from my “private” self is necessary for my sanity – but it’s like any job in that respect. It’s nice to be able to step away from some piece of writing that I’m struggling with or a heated Twitter discussion and really disengage from it and give my family and friends my full attention. It’s easy to burn out if I don’t keep them separate.
Has your creativity changed stylistically as you have matured?
I used to believe I couldn’t write if I wasn’t inspired – and that is a dangerous thought. You can find inspiration through your writing, and you need to be able to write, even on the days you don’t feel like it. It’s about being disciplined.
When do you feel the most energized?
If we’re talking time of day, it varies. I used to be such a night owl, but I find I get more concentrated work done in the morning now – like early-early, when everyone else is asleep. As for the point in my process when I feel most energized, it’s about the second or third revision – when I really know my story and characters and I can play around with things. That’s usually the time I write and write and write and look up to find a few hours have passed or I’ve forgotten to eat.
How do you deal with creative blocks?
I try and work through them. If I’m blocked, sometimes it means that I haven’t quite worked out a part of the story and need to pull back. Other times it means I’m burnt out and need to do something fun, and completely unrelated to writing. Figuring out which one it is, is usually the trick!
How much of your own life is reflected in your work?
At one time I might have said none – but really, there is a lot of me in my books and yet they are not autobiographical. I think you can take an experience and change it, or take your feelings about an experience and expand upon them – which is what I find I do a lot.
Which of your books gives you the most pride or satisfaction?
Hmm…since I only have two books out so far, and they are companions, I’m going to cheat and say both. These books are like a love letter to my sixteen-year-old self. They are books that I would have loved as a teenager. They reflect a lot of my high school experience — going to an all girl school, being silly with my friends, obsessing over guys and basically figuring out who I wanted to be. That said — I do have a special place in my heart for my first book because it was my debut and put me in touch with so many amazing people. I also really adore Grayson Barrett, so there’s that too.