Today's blog welcomes -- TA DA---
Welcome to my blog series of authors in Alberta. I’m pleased to have you take the time to answer my questions. I’m also looking at whether writers think they’ve been born to write or shaped into writers by their life experiences. Let’s see what your answers reveal about you and your characters.
Have you always thought you might someday write a book? Or did you come to that decision as you got older?
Both! In kindergarten, my dream was to write books. It looked easy. I had a friend who could draw better people than me, so the plan was to write and illustrate books together. We’d make millions! It was a sure thing… what a shame we went to different schools the next year. Our partnership never even got off the ground.My business-minded brain drove my career direction once I hit junior high. I love everything about business, even now. Becoming an author was still on my bucket list though - the question was, what to write?Every awesome idea I had seemed to clash with what I was willing to put out there into the universe. (Sharing your writing can be scary!) That is, until I started reading young adult (YA) fiction. YA is as action packed and emotionally driven as my own brain – and was something I could let my kids and coworkers read without shifting uncomfortably in my seat. I dusted off a boarding school novel I’d worked on in my tweens. Pretty much nothing but the idea that it was at a boarding school was salvageable, but it was something. I sat down and started writing and I haven’t stopped.Some days it’s challenging to balance all the balls I have in the air, but I wouldn’t change it.
As a result of your path to publication, do you think writers are born or made? In other words, is it a genetic based urge or do our lives shape us into writers?
Find The FountainBorn to it! I had a friend tell me she’d rather get a root canal than *HAVE TO* write a book. True story. I guess that means not everyone has the drive to be a writer, even if everyone has their own story.Writing has always come easily to me and I hope it does for everyone who chooses to write for their profession. That’s not to say that pulling a novel together is easy. IT’S HARD! Even if the writing itself flows well, coming up with enough interesting stuff to fill a novel, and staying with the details until the bitter end challenges me to the core. When I’m in the midst of drafting a book, I carry the characters in my mind day in and day out, even while I’m dreaming. A lot of authors joke about coming up with the next story line in the shower. Writing is a big commitment.Life experience can give you amazing stories and perspective, and most writers get better at their craft with age and practice – but you’re either drawn to writing or you’re not. Ask my friend having the optional root canal.
You are heading into a series. Do your books have a pre-planned over arcing story for the series or the character?
YES! The three books in The Fountain Series have been planned since day 1 - at least their plots and general story arc. The characters, on the other hand, have found voices of their own and have taken the story in ways I couldn’t have imagined when I started. That somehow seems fitting for my young characters who are faced with huge life challenges in the magical school setting they find themselves in. Their stories are a journey. The story evolves as the journey unfolds.As I wrote The Fountain (Book 1 in The Fountain Series), the romantic story line that the outline said was small took off when Ava (main character) actually fell in love as I wrote. Line by line, it just happened, and the book’s success is tied to Ava’s struggle to decide what kind of love she wants in her life. So… when it came time to write Book 2, and now Book 3, my readers said they couldn’t wait to see what happened with the romance. Ack! There really wasn’t much romance originally planned for Books 2 and 3. Not to worry, they are full of it now, and it was really fun to put it in.
If you could cast your characters in the Hollywood adaptation of your book, who would play your characters?
Ooo… I’d love for the whole cast of Pretty Little Liars to play the St. Augustus students. I just love all their dark and edgy personalities. But, come to think of it, the actors were all actually in their mid-twenties when the series ended, so they couldn’t play Ava and Courtney now. Drat!My dream would be for a group of amazing, undiscovered group of actors to become the kids from The Fountain Series, bringing their mysteries and dabbles with romance to life. The characters in the series represent real kids, with real emotions – even if the situations they find themselves in are a bit fantastic. I would love for up and coming actors to have the chance to grow with the series the way the characters unfold in the books.
Your job requires travel. How do you make time to write?
Business travel is definitely not as glamorous as it seems! Every time I get ready for a long-haul trip, I pack my laptop and have visions of spending my 11 hour flight hammering out a few chapters. In reality, I’m usually asleep before take off and so focused on my day job that I rarely squeeze in any writing on the road.Most of my writing happens while I’m busy in Calgary with my amazing husband and three kids. I keep my writing laptop in my purse and pull it out whenever I have a spare ten minutes where nobody will miss my attention (read: waiting for kids after hockey, ringette or gymnastics, after they are sleeping, while the kids watch Saturday morning cartoons, etc…). During first drafts, I try to also sequester myself for blocks of time to get the broad strokes done, or plan to attend a few writers’ retreats. This is where the bulk of the new words get typed. During the editing stage, I get it done ten minutes at a time. It takes discipline to find the moments, and I’ve been known to pull a few late nights, but it all adds up.
When can we expect the next book? And what can you tell us as a teaser for that story?
Book 1 in the series, The Fountain, is all about a girl named Ava who moves across the country to attend St. Augustus boarding school in New England, to find out more about her mother, who died when she was ten. When she gets there, her reputation precedes her and the kids aren’t very nice. She gets really upset and runs off into the woods, where she finds a mysterious fountain. She throws a coin in and she wishes that one of the girls (Courtney) had never existed. When she gets back to school, the girl is gone - and the whole world has turned upside down.The number one question I get from readers is “Why was Courtney SO MEAN!” and the truth is, there was a very good reason, which wasn’t addressed in The Fountain. Courtney deserved her own book to justify her actions.The West Woods is Book 2 in The Fountain Series, and will be out summer 2017. It takes place the year before The Fountain and is Courtney’s journey that led her to where she treated Ava terribly, leading to Courtney being wished away. Oh, and it’s full of romance too…
Questions for fun only:
Have you ever:
1) Danced in the rain? Yes. – I LOVE rain. If it’s raining, I usually grab my running shoes and get out there!
2) Ridden a motorcycle or a Segway? No
3) Jumped out of a plane? No
4) Learned a language other than English? Yes – I speak French, and have taken Japanese courses
5) Gotten lost in a strange city? Yes
6) Shared your ice cream cone, lick for lick, with your pet? (What kind of pet was it?)
a. NO! I don’t have a pet, but I’m also a complete germaphobe, even with my own family. Sharing ice cream? Ick, no way! :-)
Thanks Suzy, for taking the time to share part of you writing life with me and my readers.
Your answers are lively and let us know what tone we can expect in your books. We'll look forward to the second book in the series coming out 2017. THE WEST WOODS