1. Are there therapeutic benefits to modeling a character after someone you know?
I’m glad you asked this question. I wrote Sushi and Sea Lions as therapy. I’m not kidding. Daniela is modeled after myself. She is an exaggerated version of course, but ultimately she has a lot of me in her. As I worked through Daniela as a character; her wants, desires, needs, insecurities, etc – it helped me process all of these things about myself that I’d repressed. It was cathartic to dig deep into her as a character while also unraveling heartfelt emotions of my own. When I was done, I felt a huge weight come off my shoulders. Everything was lighter.
2. As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
At my first ballet class when I was four years old, I stood up opening my arms over my head and declared, “I want to be a pretty pink princess.” A princess to me was a ballerina in a music box in her tulle tutu and shimmering tiara. I worked tirelessly to try to achieve that dream. Practiced for endless hours en pointe. I wanted it so bad. Clearly, it didn’t happen, but it did help me to shape Daniela’s character. I didn’t suffer an injury like she does, but I had a realization during my teen years that ballet wasn’t the best career path for me.
3. At what point do you think someone should call themselves a writer?
Do you write? You’re a writer. Plain and simple. I think we put too much emphasis on being a “writer,” whatever that means. To me, you’re a writer if you: journal, blog, create fanfiction, RP, write short stories, poems, fiction, non-fiction, memoir. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you’re writing and expressing yourself at all. Sushi and Sea Lions started out in my journal. It was me venting and dumping emotions on the page. It turned into a novel after. You never know what writing will blossom into something else.
4. Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?
Read. Read some more. Keep reading. Being well read is so important to being a writer. I can’t stress this enough. Without even realizing you’re ingesting the: phrasing, pacing, tone, imagery, vocabulary. You’re taking in all the tools these other authors use to bring their worlds to life. I also think reading outside of your own genre of writing helps to. For example, fantasy writers are expert world builders, a contemporary romance author can steal some of that to create a better sense of setting in their own world.
Another tip I have to grow as a writer is to practice. Keep writing. Even if you think the writing isn’t any good. It doesn’t matter. The more you put something into practice the better it gets. Remember the ballerina? I’m going to use a ballet analogy here. The beginning of ballet class starts at the barre moving slowly through a sequence of gradually building exercises. One of the first is plies. Starting out as a beginner, you would only do plies in first and second position. Very simple. Gradually as you continue to learn, continuing to grow, the addition of fourth and fifth position come. Each day the writing will get better as long as you write.
Now, editing on the other hand…that’s a whole different beast.
5. Do you like to create books for adults?
Books for adults are the best! (I am assuming you mean with some R rated material?) Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with a book that is PG-13, however every now and again a good bit of smut is just what the doctor ordered. I approach adult writing as authentic to adult life. There are all aspects to that. There is no reason to dumb anything down for the readership. There is something freeing in that aspect and being able to show on the page all the content that I desire as a writer.
6. Do you prefer ebooks, printed books, or audiobooks most of the time?
I’m still old school. I love holding a book in my hands. There is something about the genuine experience of turning page after page and finishing chapters in a hurry. I feel like with an ebook I can’t devour a story that way. So naturally, my house is full of books. I’ve started shoving them into nooks and crannies at this point. I also really love old books. I can’t resist a book with its own story. Occasionally an antique book will catch my eye and I have to bring it home. Aside from the story between the pages, there is a story to who owned that book and the life they lead. Book-ception.
7. Does writing energize or exhaust you? Or both?
When it comes to being energized or exhausted by writing I experience a bit of both. There are sometimes where I can sit down and write in a frantic burst, overly excited about the prospect of the scene I am working on. Then there are the times when I am staring at my document in exhaustion, wondering why the words won’t come. I find if it’s a high tension scene or something with difficult content, it’s exhausting. It takes me longer to write those things out than something that is upbeat or happy. I put many emotions into my writing and I think that reflects in how I feel during the process.
8. Have you ever considered writing under a pseudonym, and why or why not?
I thought about writing under a pseudonym for probably three seconds. Then, I said to myself, why would I do that? I want the credit for all this hard work. Writing a book and having it published is a lot of work. It’s a long process. It takes countless revisions, edits, drafts. I wanted the credit for all the work I put in.
9. How did you come up with the title for your book?
Sushi and Sea Lions came about as a way to explain the character’s quirks in a fun way since the novel is all about Daniela and her growth. Daniela is her love interest’s opposite in many ways and the two things, sushi and sea lions, define that opposition. On a superficial level, she likes seafood and he doesn’t, she is more childlike and energetic, enjoying the sea lions at the zoo, while he is more reserved and tight-lipped. Regardless of all that, they manage to come together. I wanted two tangible things that denoted intangible things.
10. How do books get published?
Books are published by selling your kidney on the black market, collecting a vial of tears sobbed at 3:00 am, and making a deal with a spindly little man to collect your first-born child while he spins straw into gold. Joking. However, it takes a lot of perseverance to put your work out there. It takes a lot of grit to query and accept multiple, sometimes hundreds of rejections before getting that one yes. It is an arduous process and can really weigh you down. However, if you never try it might never happen.
I received at least one hundred rejections for Sushi and Sea Lions before it was accepted by my publisher, Creative James Media. I received at least ten rejections on full requests from agents. I cried a lot. Our writing is personal to us so it can feel like a rejection of yourself when you’re told no constantly. It isn’t! It’s also not a reflection of your talent either. The publishing industry can be fickle and calculated. It’s not an easy road, lots of divots and bumps along the way, but making it to the end is worth it.