I’m delighted to welcome Jessica to our blog today!
I met her at Little Bonobo’s Book Cafe :-)
Let’s begin, Jessica.
Where are you from and how old are you?
I’m from San Diego, California, but I’ve lived in England for a few years now. I’m 25.
When did you begin writing and can you remember how it felt inside, back then?
I kept journals starting from when I was really small, and I liked to write and illustrate poems about animals in them. When I was 12 I decided to write a novel. It was about giant anthropomorphic rats from outer space. Unfortunately I didn’t get very far with it. In high school I did a couple of really fun creative writing projects for my English and creative writing classes. For one of these projects we had to choose a picture of a person from a newspaper or magazine and create a character from it. Each week we would write a story about the character. It was so much fun! I think it was around then that I decided I seriously wanted to be a writer.
Was there any certain date or time you remember when you began to call yourself a “writer”?
The year I did my MA in Creative Writing in Authorship. The people on my program and I referred to ourselves and each other as “writers”. By the end of that year I had started to think seriously of myself as a writer, rather than someone who wanted to be a writer.
What are your hopes, or dreams, or goals for your writing?
I want to be able to write a novel with interesting, believable characters and a solid plot with good flow and tension in the right parts. I’m revising my first novel now, and I hope I can get it to that point. Like most writers, I’d like to be published some day.
Please tell us a bit more about your formal training in the art of writing?
I have a degree in English, which helps, although I don’t think you need a degree to be a writer. I studied abroad for a year at UEA Norwich, in England. It’s supposed to be the top university in Britain for creative writing, but to be honest I didn’t notice much difference in the creative writing classes there compared to other classes I had taken elsewhere. They were helpful, but most creative writing classes are helpful. And I returned to England after I graduated to do my MA in Creative Writing and Authorship, this time studying in Sussex. It was quite an adventure.
It does sound a bit like an adventure; my, yes :-)
What do you feel has taught you the most about “how to write”?
Reading. Reading widely from a very young age. Reading deeply within my genre (currently I write YA fantasy), and reading different genres as well. I think writers need to read as much as they write. Stephen King’s advice is to read four hours a day and write four hours a day, which I think is pretty spot on. The other thing that has taught me a lot about writing is writing itself. Like everything else, it takes a lot of practice. I write nearly every day and I’ve seen a ton of improvement in my work in the past couple of years.
Who are your favorite writers and why are they favorites?
My best friend is scandalized by the fact that the Harry Potter series is my all-time favorite work of literature. But it really is so close to perfect. The characters are so unique, believable, lovable, hate-able; the plot is exciting; the twists are perfect; and the world JK Rowling creates is just a delight to get lost in for a couple of hours. For that reason I would say JK Rowling is my favorite author. I also love the Brontës. I love that their books explore female autonomy at a time when women were so oppressed, and I love that each sister has her own voice—Anne’s writing is wild, Emily’s dark, and Charlotte’s just plain strange. Another writer I really love is Tad Williams. The worlds he creates, and the characters—you just want to live inside his imagination. I love his novel Tailchaser’s Song, and his science fiction series Otherland just blew me away.
Yes, I’ve read only one of the Otherland books. Once I get my book published, I should read the others :-)
Where and/or how do you get your ideas for your writing?
My imagination has always been overactive, and I spend a lot of time thinking in terms of stories. So when I learn something interesting or see something interesting, it’s bound to make me think of a story. I came up with story ideas quite frequently while I was in college, because I was always learning new things. Generally I find travel, exercise, and reading to be great for the imagination.
What’s your normal revision or editing routine?
I’m revising my first novel at the moment. The plan is to write a fresh outline including all the changes I want to make, and go through several rounds of revision to make the plot, characters, and fantasy world as good as I can make them. One thing I’ve found helps a lot in editing is reading aloud (it helps catch typos and awkward phrasing), so I’ll be doing a lot of that. Then I’ll do a final proofread and send it out to beta readers, who will in turn likely tear it to shreds.
Reading aloud is an awesome revision aid! And, I hope (and suspect) your Betas won’t be that cruel :-)
Tell us about your blog: its purpose, how you go about deciding what to post, and what you want to do with it in the future?
My blog called Little Bonobo’s Book Cafe and I post about reading, writing, and creativity. I love being part of the writer/blogger community. It’s a fun way to meet other writers, share ideas, offer encouragement, and learn new information. I’m still trying to figure out my posting schedule— whether I want to do certain types of posts on certain days, or focus more on reading or writing or book reviews. I’ve seen some amazing blogs lately, and I’m feeling inspired to improve mine.
Please say just a bit more about the book you’re working on.
My novel is a young adult fantasy about a teen-aged girl whose little brother has been kidnapped by a faerie magician. I love stories about magic, and it’s been really fun (and challenging) creating my own world from scratch. At the moment I’m also working on a second novel—a young adult science fiction set on Mars—but its still in the early stages, and I’ve got a ton more research to do.
Well, Jessica, I can only see bright omens ahead for you :-) Thanks ever so much for stopping by and I’ll see you soon at Little Bonobo’s Book Cafe.
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