Hi Everyone! I'm sorry I've been away for so long, but I've been busy writing. Is that a good excuse? I think so. At any rate, I'm participating in an author to author blog hop for the next couple weeks that will feature authors from all sorts of different genres on different days, and the first author is yours truly! So, please enjoy the following interview...
1. Who's your favorite author, and why?
This is a REALLY difficult question for me to answer! I love different authors for different reasons. If I can be perfectly honest, it would have to be a three-way tie between J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, and J. K. Rowling. What these three have in common that keeps me going back to their books over and over again is depth of storytelling. They each cloak, under the guise of fantasy, incredibly complex and meaningful stories. The Lord of the Rings is like beautiful classical music. When you read it, you can feel the levels of craftsmanship that went into creating Middle Earth and the characters that populate it. The Chronicles of Narnia are so decpetively simple, and they introduced me to a love of fantasy literature as a very young child, but when I read them as an adult, I can now see the layers of meaning and symbolism that Lewis smuggled into the stories. And Harry Potter . . . oh, how I love Harry! I had an immediate, emotional connection with those stories that led me to dig deeper and study how they were written. Lo and behold I discovered classical and medieval literary methodology and symbolism that transcends anything one might expect to find in a modern children's commercial fantasy. I've sought to emulate the styles of all three authors in my own writing because there's a reason each of these three authors are some of the most widely-read in history. I want my books to connect with readers in the same ways.
2. If you could have a conversation with one of the characters in your most-recently released novel, which one would it be and why?
I would have a conversation with Tellius. Tellius has always been my favorite character from book 1, and it is in book 4 (the most recently released) that I finally let the readers in on a lot more of his personality. A lot happens to Tellius in book 4, and he kind of needs a hug, a cup of tea, and a good long talk. He's someone with a lot of depth to him, especially in book 4, and I would love to dig into his personal struggles with him a little more.
3. Where do you get the ideas and inspiration for your characters personalities?
Oh, I gather inspiration from all over. Because my current series is based loosely on experiences I had at camp as a child, many of the personalities from my camp friends found their way into The Gateway Chronicles. (I say "loosely" because obviously I never passed through a gateway to a new and magical world . . . or did I???) I also study my students for teenage mannerisms, and I mine the depths of my favorite books for inspiration on how the best authors have done it before me. There's a little of some of my favorite literary characters in some of the characters in my books.
4. What is the best thing (in your opinion) about being a writer?
I get to write stories I myself want to read! I've always had a ton of stories floating around in my head, begging to get out. I used to skip lunch at school to sit in study hall and write, but although I am really shy, I never wanted my stories to only be for me. As scary as it is, I've always known my stories were meant to be shared with others. It's just a bonus that I love them too, and that I get an outlet for my creative energy.
5. How did you find your agent/publisher?
That is a long story, so I'll cut it way down. It was kind of providential. I'm incredibly nervous about getting reviews (is any author NOT?), so I've always been shy about asking people to review my books. When I self-published my second novel, however, I just knew that I needed to do something more to get the word out about my books, so I psyched myself up and chose a random reviewer I had found on Twitter. She looked like someone who might like my books, and she accepted self-pub manuscripts, so I sent her an e-mail. She accepted the review and ended up loving my books (phew), and it just so happened that she worked for the marketting department of TWCS publishing house. She contacted me, inquiring whether or not I would ever consider traditional publishing, to which I replied, "Of course!" Basically it came together in bits and pieces after that, but it really was kind of crazy because she remains the only person, to this day, I have ever directly approached for a book review. (I'm still terrified of it and am SO thankful for the fabulous marketers at TWCS who help set all that up for me now!)
6. What's the best piece of writing advice you've been given?
There is no such thing as writer's block. If you are a professional author, writing is your job, so treat it as such.
Because I am also a teacher, this made me think about how I don't necessarily feel like teaching every day, but because it is my JOB, I get up and go to work and do it regardless. In every job, you have good days and bad days. I wouldn't stay home when I don't feel like teaching simply because I have "teacher's block," so neither should I neglect writing when I have writer's block. I'd never thought of it that way before.
7. Biggest mistake you've made as an author?
I don't know if it's the biggest one, but it was one of the most embarassing mistakes I've made as an author. I have a friendly acquaintance who is a best selling author who volunteered to help me make a few connections when I was still self-published and seeking a traditional publishing house. He facilitated an introduction with his agent, who is one of the biggest agents in the industry, and all I had to do was take it from there and e-mail the agent, introducing myself. Well, I did, and I was so nervous about it that it took me something like four hours to write the e-mail. I wrote it, read it, re-read it, read it out loud to my husband, basically did everything I could to make it sound nice and professional. I'm usually an excellent speller, but I checked and double-checked all the spellings of any big words before I sent the e-mail, just to be safe. Well, my friend had asked me to keep him copied on the correspondence, so I did, and shortly after sending the e-mail, I got a response from him giving me a professional critique of my e-mail to the agent. I was very happy to receive this and thankful for the help, obviously, but I was also mortally embarassed, as my friend informed me (in a very friendly manner) that I had misspelled the word "referral" in the subject line of the e-mail. Maybe this doesn't seem like a big deal, but for how many hours I had put into it, and for the fact that the subject line was the first thing the agent would see, I just couldn't believe I had made such a ridiculous mistake. I still feel a little sick to my stomach today when I think about it! So, yeah... The agent was still kind enough to consider me, and we corresponded a bit more, but he did eventually pass on representing me. I'm sure it wasn't because of the spelling error, but it certainly couldn't have helped!
1. What would the lead character of your latest novel want for Christmas?
Darcy Pennington, at the point I am at in the story (as I'm writing it... she's 17 right now, in the middle of book 5), would want nothing more than to be with the people she loves. That's a little hint (wink wink) to those of you eagerly awaiting book 5.
2. Favorite Christmas music?
My favorite Christmas music, hands down, is Handel's Messiah. I could listen to it all day every day this time of year. I think it's brilliant and beautiful, and it never ceases to bring tears to my eyes. Aside from that, I've always really loved the old sacred hymns. O Holy Night is probably my favorite of those.
3. What was the best gift you ever received?
The best gift I've ever received? Hmmm... that's a tough one! It kind of depends on the situation. When I was 14 years old, my parents bought me and my siblings a dachshund puppy for Christmas. That was pretty awesome, and it's been on my mind this Christmas as they just had to put that dog down last week after 15 years. She's the last of my childhood pets to be put down, so it's been sad. On a happier note (and to tie it back to the first question), when I was sophomore in college, my roommates and I did a gift exchange. Kate, who had picked me to buy for, knew I was getting pretty "into" that Harry Potter series (this was a year after the release of book 4), so she bought me a box set of the first four. I still have it proudly displayed on my mantel, and like the velveteen rabbit, it shows many signs of much love!
The Author to Author Blog Hop is hosting a giveaway for a prize package of eBooks from our contributing authors. Enter below, and the winner will be notified by e-mail. You have a chance to enter every day on any of the participating author's blogs - so keep checking back. (Note: eBooks labeled 18+ will not be awarded to a winner under the age of 18.)
The Author to Author Blog Hop Giveaway Prize Package includes:
Legacy of a Dreamer by Allie Jean (16+)
Lessons Learned by Sydney Logan (16+)
Ghostwriter by Lissa Bryan (16+)
Behind Closed Doors by Sherri Hayes (16+)
Fifty Shades of Jungle Fever by L.V. Lewis (18+)
Riverbend by Andrea Goodson
Serial Summer by Angel Lawson (18+)
MORE by T.M. Franklin
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