Questions for Unpublished Writers

I came across these questions for not-yet-published authors on this blog and thought I’d share my answers over here because they got way too long for a comment. Fun to think about!

1. Did you always know you wanted to be an author, or did the idea of writing occur to you later on? Describe the circumstances which led to that choice.

I’ve wanted to be a writer since elementary school, but I took a major break from that dream. I got picked to represent my class in the school-wide Young Author’s Conference in some really young grade, but didn’t get one of the final picks for my grade level to actually participate, which crushed my tiny 8-year-old heart. I stopped writing stories until I discovered fanfiction in seventh grade, but then I was too scared to share my work with anyone. I started roleplaying a bit in high school, and had an English teacher who was wonderfully supportive, but all creative writing classes conflicted with band. I didn’t write again for a long time. I had ideas, and I used to fill bits of scrap paper with endless notes, bits of dialogue, and story beginnings while working my retail jobs.

The early idea for Firestarter came during that time period, somewhere around 2006. I didn’t start really writing fiction again until 2009 or 2010, when I decided to finally start Firestarter. I got 10k words in and quit. Did the same thing the next year, and the year after that. It took me until 2013 to really get serious about it, but I still only hit 20k words. Finally, on February 1st of 2014 I said NO MORE EXCUSES. I sat in the chair every morning and built upon those 20k words until the book was finished, 28 days later. Now, I pursue writing relentlessly and professionally. I’m querying my first novel and drafting my second. Writing is a major part of my life, and I hope I never let it go again.

2. What are the things that inspire your work as a writer? Music, art, people, travel, life in general?

I’m mostly inspired by other works of fiction, whether they be books, movies, video games, or roleplaying games. “What if I took this character type, but threw them into this completely different setting and situation…” etc. Eventually the character and plot I end up with bear zero resemblance to what originally inspired them, but the spark was there to set it off. I read widely and game widely, and those two things inspire my writing more than anything else.

3. What types of books are you drawn to reading? What types of books are you drawn to write?

I’m finding it really hard to pin down what exactly draws me to a book. I know I DON’T like characters who are weak-willed or passive. I like my books like I like my food: bold and spicy. I like strong, tough girls, and yes that includes the physically-strong sword-wielding types. I know it’s not the only way to be a strong female character, but it’s the type of character that has appealed to me since childhood. I wanted to BE a lady knight and a starfighter pilot. Still do. I like tough girls who have big dreams and big ideals, or girls who struggle with issues of gender expression and traditional femininity because they reflect my own struggles.

I don’t do sad/deep/issue books much. It has to be really outstanding for me to put myself through that. I love a book with a great setting and subtle, awesome worldbuilding, but it has to have a great plot too (and here I’m thinking of the Abhorsen trilogy by Garth Nix). I like to write the same kind of stuff I like to read, unsurprisingly. Snarky humor, big attitudes, lots of personality, and an interesting setting. If it’s real world, it has to be described so that it almost feels alien, like in Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Cycle.

I think I learned a few things about myself and my tastes after free-writing those answers. Thanks for the inspiration, S.M.!

Anyone want to offer up their own answers?

1 Comment

  1. Susan Nystoriak
    December 30, 2014 at 8:51 pm — Reply

    Hey! Thanks for checking out my post! These are some really fun questions to think about, and I learn a lot about my own writing from reading other’s responses. Thank you for passing it on, and have a wonderful new year!

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