Last week, I asked you all to send me questions you’d like me to answer. Well, your response was enthusiastically curious, and I have a lot of AWESOME of questions to answer now! So, I’ll be breaking this up into a few posts that I’ll make over the coming weeks. I’ll be re-posting some of these questions and answers on my profile at Goodreads and Smashwords–others will be exclusive to the blog. (I’ll make sure to call those out so you know when you’re reading the really juicy stuff.) Here is the first installment:
Q.1: How old were you when you knew you wanted to be a writer? Was it a terrifying realization or were you like… yah.. I got this?
A.1: (A shorter version of this answer will appear on Goodreads and Smashwords. This full response will only be posted here!)
I was in high school when I first knew I wanted to be a fiction writer
“when I grew up.” I took this year-long, advanced English class my Junior year of high school where we studied styles of writing and their artistic counterparts–creating our own works of lit and art composition in the various styles. It was a really cool class. First semester that same year, I also took a Science Fiction writing class. (Yes, I doubled up on English classes one year, by taking no Math–don’t be like me, kids.) In the S.F. writing class, the teacher would give extra credit if we turned in stuff we wrote in our spare time, and he’d even read and critique it. Well, I turned in so much extra stuff, and he liked what I wrote for assignments so much, he pretty much just gave me an A for the semester within the first month of the class. That was the first time I got a taste for showing my work to other people and having them give me notes, and praise, etc. It was in the second semester of my Art-English class, though, that I said aloud, for the first time, that I didn’t want a corporate job–I just wanted to be a writer. It was the only idea of a career that excited me.
But this snotty girl across the room scoffed and said “Okay, but you’ll have to have a job. You have to make money.”
I remember being so angry with her at the time. It wasn’t what she’d said (because that’s true–you do have to make money in order to live, and writing does not normally pay the bills, which I knew, even then) but her tone that got to me; like she thought that writing isn’t really work. Or that doing something you’re passionate about isn’t a real job because you don’t hate it. On the one hand, it fired me up and made me want it more, but on the other, I remember having this feeling of ‘She’s right: I do have to make money. And, well, I only have so much focus and effort to give, and writing fiction takes too much of it to allow me to be successful at something else too, so maybe writing isn’t for me.’ So I put it down for a while and focused on other things. But what that girl said really stuck with me, and as I got older, I starting feeling differently about it: like, “F-you. I do have another job, and I’ll write books, too, and people will like them, and I’ll come to our ten-year reunion all published and shit. Just you watch.” And while it didn’t happen exactly like I’d thought it would, I was published by the time I went to my 10-year high school reunion–so there.
Q.2: How did the Shift Series come to be in your mind?
A.2: It’s super simple, actually: I read a lot of contemporary fantasy, and paranormal/fantasy romance, and whenever I would read that there was a shapeshifter in a book (on the back cover, or other summaries) I would hope it was a human shifter, but was always disappointed. So one day, I started thinking more about it: why aren’t there more human shifters in books? Which led me to “if you were a human who could change your appearance at will, do you have your own appearance at all?” Which led me to “I think the answer is yes, but that people who abuse their gift could potentially lose themselves.” And then, “the wider shifter community would definitely look down upon shifters who abuse their gift, be it to steal people’s identity, or for nefarious self-interest, etc.” And then that cracks open the whole pantheon of questions/scenarios around the spectrum of what is right and just, morals vs. ethics, etc. The more I thought about it, the more I knew I had a story on my hands. And frankly, when I write it all here, I know there is still more story to tell, even if with different characters/experiences.
Check back for more answers in the weeks to come!