1. What does your writing process look like? Do you know
the whole story when you start? Or do you just start writing and go with
it (seat of the pants writing)? If you plan it out, how do you do
that? Outline, note cards, post-it notes, etc.?
I never know
the whole story when I start. I know the
beginning and I always know the very end, but what happens in between is a
mystery. For me, the fun of writing is
allowing myself to go wherever the story takes me. It’s not the most efficient way to write – I
end up doing a lot of rewriting and reordering and reworking and I throw a lot
of stuff away – but it means I’m always excited to get back to the story and
find out what’s going to happen next.
2. How do you come up with your ideas for your stories?
I’m a very
visual person so it’s almost always a vision I have or a real person I see that
I then begin to wonder about. With Extraordinary October my daughter had
the idea. Then I started thinking about
high school and I remembered this incredibly embarrassing time when I broke out
in poison ivy – all over my body – and itched like crazy! Then I knew where to begin.
3. How long have you been writing?
writing since I knew how. When I was
seven, I sat under my desk – why under? I have no idea! – and wrote my first
story about a penguin lost on an iceberg.
I didn’t think then I would be a writer, it was just something I loved
to do. It wasn’t until college that I
realized people (meaning me) could be writers.
4. What tips do you have for aspiring writers?
practice. Don’t worry about writing a
perfect story. Musicians have to
practice for years before they can perform.
Basketball players too. Practice
by writing about the weather, the sky, making up stories about your friends
(don’t show it to them) or a funny thing that happened at school. If you’re warmed up you’ll be ready to write when
5. How important are names in your books? Do you choose the
names based on liking the way it sounds, or the meaning? Do you have any name
choosing resources you recommend?
Names are so important. I can’t start writing until I know
all the characters names. I see a
picture of a character in my mind and then I think, “Her name would start with
an “S” and be pretty, lyrical, multi-syllable.”
Then I go to my baby-naming book or I look online at a baby name
site. I try to stay away from the most
popular names. So I’ll look down the
list and see Sabina, Savannah, Suzanna and I’ll keep looking until I find
one. With my new character, October
Fetterhoff, her name came easily. That
would be a hard name to have. Pretty,
but weird and too many Halloween references.
Non-human parents would name a child that because they don’t know about
Halloween and all the connotations that name might bring. To October’s
parents it was just a pretty word, and the month they met.
6. Since your book contains some fairy tale types of
creatures, what is your favorite fairy tale? Favorite mystical creatures?
fairy tale is my the Brothers Grimm and called The Six Swans. A witch turns
six brothers into swans and their sister must first stay silent for seven years
and second, sew them each a shirt out of nettles. Bad things happen and she is about to be
burned at the stake exactly as she finishes the shirts (all except one sleeve)
and the seven years are up. It’s very
mystical creatures are always ones that aren’t what they seem. For example, I’m fascinated by werewolves
that only appear at the full moon. Or
the witch that lives down the street and looks like any old lady. Or Ron Weasley’s rat, Scabbers, who is really
In Extraordinary October it’s hard to tell
the magical creatures from the normal: the
homeless man yelling and gesturing is really a gnome chasing away sprites; the
businesswoman who looks like she’s talking on her phone is really talking to
the goblin on her shoulder; the ultra tall and thin models are actually
book: Portrait of a Lady by Henry James.
So sad and so beautiful while exploring a woman’s personal freedom. I love all kinds of books, but I read this
one over and over again.
Magical Book: Five Children and It by E. Nesbitt.
Written at the turn of the 19th century, five siblings find a
Psammead (magical creature, see social media below) that grants wishes.
movie: Pride and Prejudice with Keira Knightley. I watch it every time it’s on
television. I love romantic
comedies. Notting Hill, Sleepless in
Seattle, Serendipity, etc. Embarrassing, but true!
television show: I like Silicon Valley. Go Nerds,
Go! And I watch Lucifer. Love those magical
creatures that aren’t as they seem.
music: I am such a nerd musically. I usually listen to classical music –
especially Mozart and Chopin piano sonatas.
But I don’t listen to music while I write. I need it quiet. My brain can’t process too many things at
food: While I write or any time, I can’t
get enough popcorn. I can eat it every
day. Bad day? Popcorn.
Something to celebrate?
Popcorn. Hungry? Popcorn.
I have an electric popper that sits on my kitchen counter at all times,
waiting and ready!
social media: I go to Twitter. I don’t often post, but the eclectic people I
follow always post the most interesting things.
As a lead up
to the book’s launch, I’ve been posting on Facebook an alphabetical “magical
creature a day.” That’s been really
fun. I’ve had to read about creatures
I’ve never heard of and then find a picture.
It was very difficult to find a
magical being for the letter “J.”