Hello Jessica and welcome to The Writers Voice!
Are there any other art forms that inspire you when you are writing? Do you listen to music, look at art pieces for ideas or watch dance and gymnastics?
Absolutely! I can’t listen to music while I’m writing, but I love going for long, brainstorming walks with my iPod. The right music can really help me get into the proper mood. I listened to Snow Patrol, Florence + the Machine, and Mumford & Sons while writing and editing BORN WICKED.
What is your biggest and hardest to ignore distraction? How do you cope with it?
That would be a tie between a) my cat, Monkey, and b) the internet. Monkey is a champion cuddler and I’m a champion napper; it’s a bad combination where my productivity is concerned. I try not to let him jump up on the loveseat in the office where I write, or I’m lost. The internet is trickier. I use the program Freedom to disable it for set periods (usually an hour at a time) so that when I get stuck, I stay with the story instead of automatically checking Twitter or my email.
Is there one piece of advice you wish someone would have given you before you started writing?
It’s trite, and I’m not sure I would have listened, but writing really is rewriting. Not just word-smithing, editing for word choice and flow, but actually tearing your manuscript apart, deleting or merging characters, killing darlings, adding new scenes or whole chapters. I think beginning writers – myself included – concentrate on that “rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic” kind of editing. I didn’t really learn how to edit ruthlessly until I was working with my genius editor.
Do you write in or out of sequence? What part of your novel comes first? What comes last?
I usually write in sequence. Occasionally, I jump ahead within the chapter. I tend to write dialogue first and then flesh out the scene by adding more physical description of the characters and setting to provide a more lush historical feel.
How do you choose your main character? What about perspective? Do you tend to write in third or choose the character telling the story based off of part of your plot?
I think of myself as a character-based writer. Characters come to my mind first, and I build the plot around them. For BORN WICKED, I knew that the most important thing in Cate’s world was keeping her promise to her mother to look after her sisters – so the plot had to put her in positions where her loyalties were tested and that promise threatened. BORN WICKED is written in first-present from Cate’s point of view.
When you are reading, what make a character compelling to you? Is it the same aspects that make a character you are writing compelling?
Both as a reader and a writer, I like characters to be flawed or broken and make mistakes – especially if those mistakes have dire consequences. It makes the plot feel more organic. (And “good” faults like being shy or humble or clumsy don’t really count, either!)
To all our readers out there, thank you for following The Writers Voice and happy reading!