Ask a Writer: 50 Questions

1 : What age-group do you write?
Current projects are young adult/new adult age group (12-25), though I also write for general adult audience. It depends on the project.

2 : What genre do you write?
Fiction, predominantly. Less frequently, creative nonfiction. Genres within those can be any mix of romance, drama, LGBT+, magical realism, fantasy, historical fiction, crime fiction.

3 : Do you outline according to big ideas or small details?
I think every story has a “big idea” framework, but it’s the small details which build upon it and I focus more on when outlining.

4 : Which do you prefer–line-editing or plot-revisions?
Line editing. It’s easier to let go of lines than it is whole plots.

5 : Do you write better with or without deadlines?
With. Accountability is good for productivity.

6 : What would be the biggest compliment you could hope to receive on your current WIP?
That the characters are realistic and evoke emotional connection.

7 : How long is your current WIP?
I have a few current WIPs. The longest is at around 50,000, the shortest, only a chapter in as of last week but has a lot of plotting behind it.

8 : What author would you be most excited to be compared to?
As to type of work, probably John Green. As to success, Ian Rankin or JK Rowling – we can dream, right? 😉

9 : What do you struggle most with as a writer?
Self-confidence as a professional and believing my work is good enough to “make it”.

10 : Do you brain-storm story ideas alone or with others?
Alone. I don’t tend to include others until I have something significant I need to share with critique partners.

11 : Do you base your characters off of real people?
No, but I like to honour certain people I’ve known over my life by inserting little shout-outs to them here or there.

12 : Is your writing space clean or cluttered?
Clean, if we don’t count books. If we count books, extensively cluttered.

13 : Do you write character-driven or plot-driven stories?
Always character-driven. I haven’t worked out how do successful construct plot-driven yet.

14 : Do you have a favorite writing-related quote?
“No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.” – Dead Poets Society

15 : If you transport your original characters into another author’s world, which world would you choose?
Definitely Harry Potter.

16 : Would your story work better as a movie or tv show? Why?
One would work well as a TV show, but the others I’d have to say movies.

17 : Do you make soundtracks for each story?
Yes, music that reminds me of facets of the story always help me isolating emotions in it. I tend to always listen to music when I write.

18 : If you could assign your story one song, what would it be?
Dean Ray’s cover of Into My Arms by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.

19 : Would you rather live in your characters’ world, or have your characters come live in our world?
My characters live in both already, technically. I’m working with Magical Realism.

20 : What book would you love to see adapted for the big or small screen?
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz.

21 : Do you finish most of the stories you start?
More accurately, a lot remain as works-in-progress because they evolve differently to how I intended when I started them.

22 : Has your own writing ever made you cry?
Frequently, but that’s what you get when you challenge your emotional boundaries and don’t let yourself remain stuck in a conceptual box.

23 : Are you proud or anxious to show off your writing?
Extremely anxious, bordering on panic… but I’m getting better.

24 : When did you start considering yourself a writer?
I don’t remember, I’ve been writing since I was a child. When did I start believing I was a real one? About 2014.

25 : What books are must-reads in your genre?
Too many to list as I write in a diverse range of genres.

26 : What would you like to see more of in your genre?
I would like to see more disability and chronic illness representation in all genres.

27 : Where do you get inspiration from?
Everywhere, and that’s not even an exaggeration – anything can strike a story idea.

28 : On a scale of 1-10, how much do you stress about choosing character names?
Never, the names jump into my head, kind of like the character is introducing themselves to me. I have never hunted for a single character name.

29 : Do you tend to underwrite or overwrite in a first draft?
Overwrite. In every draft. That’s why editing will always be painful.

30 : Does writing calm you down or stress you out?
Both, depending on the purpose of it.

31 : What trope do you actually like?
I tend to like challenging tropes, but if I had to choose, I’d say Manpain… if it’s done well and not predictably.

32 : Do you give your side-characters extensive backstories?
Yes, but most of it is never detailed in the narrative.

33 : Do you flesh-out characters before you write, or let their personalities develop over time?
Occasionally, but I prefer to start writing them before I define too much about them because they come alive better that way.

34 : Describe your old writing in one word.

35 : Is it more fun to write villains or heroes?
Heroes, but they don’t have a story without their villains so it’s a chicken and the egg type of thing.

36 : Do you write with a black and white sense of morality?
No, I prefer to write everything with a spectrum of colour. Nothing is ever black and white.

37 : What’s one piece of advice you would give to new writers?
You’re going to suck while you learn, so let yourself suck and be open to the lessons. You won’t automatically get the technical skill right just because you love your story, it needs to be learned.

38 : What’s one piece of writing advice you try–but fail–to follow?
ADVERBS AND ADJECTIVES. But they get whittled away in later drafts.

39 : How important is positive reinforcement to you as a writer?
It has its place, but constructive criticism is just as important, even if it can sting. It’s the best way to learn, though. But, of course, it’s always incredible when someone loves your work.

40 : What would you ask your favorite author if given one question?
Want to get a cuppa so I can pick your brain? 😉

41 : Do you find it distracting to read while you’re writing a first draft?
No, my brain compartmentalises well.

42 : Do critiques motivate or discourage you?
If constructive, motivate.

43 : Do you tend to write protagonists like yourself or unlike yourself?
The million dollar question. More unlike than alike because I don’t think I’m very interesting, but they often have tiny pieces of me interwoven into them.

44 : How do you decide what story idea to work on?
I don’t really decide, I go with what it working at any given time. I never have only one project on the go.

45 : Do you find it harder or easier to write when you’re stressed out?
Harder, because it’s difficult to focus with a heavy heart.

46 : What Hogwarts house would your protagonist(s) be in?
I’d say Ravenclaw.

47 : Where do you see yourself as a writer in five years?
Hopefully published, hopefully an established researcher. But who really knows?

48: Would you ever co-write?
I’ve co-written for many years, but nothing officially. Not for publication, I don’t think.

49: Are you a fast and rushed writer or a slow and deliberate writer?
Both in equal portions, just depends where I’m going with a story.

50 : Would you rather be remembered for your fantastic world-building or your lifelike characters?
Lifelike characters, hands down.

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