I tried to write my first novel when I was about 10 years old, so it must have been around that age. It took a lot longer to realize I could be a writer as opposed to someone who writes. That’s a real distinction, one I didn’t make until I was an adult!
Two people. My grandmother who, when I said I wanted to be a doctor replied, “I always thought you’d be a writer.” I was probably 8 or 9 at the time. And then my mom, who was with me every step of the way while I wrote my first novel. She used to buy me books on writing whenever she came across them. When I started my first novel, she came to visit and put every meal on the table so I could come home from work and just write. I couldn’t have done it without her.
I was in a library one day, about a year before I really committed to being a writer. A young girl at a nearby table brought over a stack of books for her father to look at—she needed help choosing. I provided that help, in a frenzy of too much information from a stranger. When it was over, she had some great books to read and I realized how important those books were to me. The books we read as kids shape who we become. I think it’s important work!
The best part was the creative energy, being surrounded by some really talented artists and writers. The worst part was sometimes seeing that creativity stifled.
Books and films are both team sports—it takes a lot of people to bring either of them to the end user. That said, books are usually written alone, and then the rest of the team comes in to clean it up and get it to print. A movie doesn’t get out the gate without a lot of cooks in the kitchen. I enjoy being able to figure out exactly what I mean on the page without having to please the crowd from word one.
I’ve just finished my next book, The Toymaker’s Apprentice. It’s a middle grade historical fantasy that comes out in October. I’m super excited to see it in print. A very talented illustrator, Sarah Watts, has done some incredible interior art and a beautiful cover. The finished book will be stunning. I’m taking a mini-break, and then I’ll be working on a contemporary mystery.
There’s no such thing as writer’s block. There’s a lot of writer’s doubt and writer’s procrastination. If I feel stuck, I go read a bunch of stuff and try to do interesting things that help give me idea. I also do more research. You can always find the next story step by doing research. And then I type a lot of meaning drivel until I work out the thing that’s not working. Write what leads up to it, what comes after, and eventually you can fill the dead space in properly.
I love spending time in the worlds I write about. It’s exciting to see a story come together, like it wants to be told. That thrills me. I also love the people I meet—book lovers the world over are my kind of people. Who wouldn’t love that?
A good chunk of my non-writing time is spent at a day job that helps pay the bills while I write. The in-between time is for family—I’ve got a good husband and a bad cat at home, and a bunch of great nieces and nephews running around. You’ll also find me reading, cooking and eating. I drink far too much tea, and I also I love to travel.
Start writing. Keep writing. Stop talking about it and just do it!