I am so honored to be a featured author this season at Valley Christian Elementary in San Jose, CA. One of the fourth grade classes sent me interview questions and I thought it’d be fun to share it with you all. The questions are in no particular order. Hope you enjoy! 🙂
1. How do you plan your story?
I typically outline my ideas in handwriting, in a journal. It’s actually a messy process, but as an artist, it’s necessary for my process. I like to scribble some pictures to help me visualize what I’m going to write about. I also use websites like Pinterest to gather lots of images in an organized manner. The method that helps me the most, however, is to get together with some close friends and share my ideas, allowing them to give me their opinions on my story idea. By talking through what I visualize, I can begin to plan a story that (I think) is believable and interesting. If my friends are interested, chances are I have something worth writing.
2. What gave you the idea for “Feast Island”?
Actually, I had a dream about it. I had this dream about teens that were watching animals gather food for their enemies, and the kids knew that the animals were really cursed humans. When I woke up from the dream, it was so vivid. I couldn’t get it out of my head and decided then and there to pursue it as a full story.
3. How do you get other ideas?
Sometimes ideas just come to me while I’m driving or doing something by myself. I find that quiet and solitude can inspire me. For example, I was exiting the freeway the other day and saw some homeless people with signs. Then my mind began creating stories about those people—what their backgrounds were, what they struggled with…and voila! A story was born.
4. Did you have anyone else in mind when you created the characters? Who is your favorite character in Feast Island and why?
I absolutely had “real” people in mind when I created the characters for Feast Island! The main characters are based off family members and friends. One of my favorite characters from Feast Island is Ben. He is based off one of my real life friends—someone whom I love very dearly. Creating a character with him in mind helped me to develop the personality of the fictional Ben to be believable.
5. What inspired you to be an author? Who helped you the most?
I always wrote short stories or told stories while growing up. My 4th grade teacher had a conference with my mom one quarter, and told her I should consider a career as a fictional writer. She also told my mom I daydreamed too much—not a big surprise! But almost four years ago, when I sat down to write Feast Island, I made a commitment to write a novel, become a published author, and see where it went. My dad was the one who encouraged me the most to pursue that dream, and then, I believe, God put some amazing people in my life who cheered me on while I wrote the book.
6. What is the hardest part about writing a book?
The hardest part about writing a book is staying motivated to finish it, or piece it together so it flows naturally. I had writer’s block for about a year and had to step away from the novel altogether. But I reminded myself of the commitment I had made, and just started writing again. Once I became disciplined with writing at least something every day, I found that the ideas began to flow again and I knew where the story was headed.
7. Are some of your ideas taken from real events?
There are certain elements of my stories taken from real events, but in writing Fantasy Fiction, there is a freedom I have in making up new worlds, scenarios, and characters.
8. Do you have a working schedule when you are writing a book? How long did it take you to write Feast Island?
Since I’m published with a very small publisher, I’m similar to an independent author. In other words, I control my deadlines and publishing/release dates. Therefore, I don’t have to use a working schedule. Plus, I have a day job as a school administrator, so I’m very busy all the time. It took me three years total to write Feast Island, including the yearlong break I took when I had writer’s block. However, my next projects are coming along much faster and I attribute that to simply having more experience.
9. Do you have a favorite part of Feast Island and why?
My favorite scene in Feast Island is a part in which the main characters are introduced to the freakish insects on the alien planet. There are giant spiders, called kongulos, and they are extremely deadly. But one of the island natives saves the girl being attacked with a spear. The grime from the spider splatters all over her and she passes out. I love this scene because it’s creepy, graphic, and in a way punishes a character who is a pain in the butt.
10. How long have you been writing? How many books have you written so far?
I have been writing stories since the age of ten. So that means I’ve been writing for approximately eighteen years. I have written one book, had one poem published, write a (typically) weekly blog, and have two/three stories in the works.
11. Do you have a favorite author? Who?
My all time favorite author is C.S. Lewis.
12. Do you have a special place where you do your best thinking and writing? Where is it?
I love going to coffee shops downtown or by my work. I actually focus better when I’m not at home and can tune out all the noise. It helps me to not be distracted by my family or other things I might be worried about getting done while at home.
13. What do you like to do when you are not writing?
Too many things, probably! I am very involved at my church (Westgate) and lead worship there sometimes. I am studying to be a natural health doctor and actually have fun researching all the different topics related to my studies. But mostly, I’m just like you—I love hanging out with my friends and escaping from the every day routine of life. But when I’m not with friends or singing, you can find me reading a good book.
14. If you were not an author, what would you be?
Well, as I stated before I am not just an author. I’m the Director of Operations at the school for which I work. And I’m currently studying to be a doctor. I will always be a writer/author—I think it’s in my bones. But my ultimate life goal is to be a Doctor of Naturopathy and help others live a healthy and happy life.
15. Is fantasy your favorite genre? What else do you like to write?
Fantasy is my most favorite genre. A sub-genre of what I write is YA=Young Adult—another favorite. But a side project I’m working on would be in the category of contemporary fiction, yet another genre I enjoy. I also write poetry.