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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Author Insight: The Decision to Write

Ever wish you could get inside an author's head? Of course you have, even though most of them would probably tell you that you don't want to be there because it's a scary place. Well, no worries, because I've done it for you.

That's right. I asked published authors, authors whose books will be released soon, authors I know, authors I didn't know, and authors whose names I don't dare try to pronounce (and luckily didn't have to because I used e-mail.) Some of these wonderful authors even forwarded my questions to their author friends, and, in the end, 32 authors agreed to answer complicated and sometimes potentially embarrassing questions about their writing and themselves.The response was overwhelming.

The unexpectedly enormous response is both a blessing and a curse. You see, with so many great authors and honest, insightful, laugh-out-loud funny responses, my intentions of posting one question a week with multiple responses from authors has been shot to hell. That many responses in one post would be out of control!

So instead, I'll be posting twice a week. One question, two days. This week I'll post today and tomorrow. After that, it will be a Tuesday/Thursday feature. Hopefully, that's not too confusing.
Now for this week's question...

Did you always know you would write a novel? Why did you finally decide to write one and when?

"Margaret Stohl and I wrote Beautiful Creatures on a dare from Margie's teen daughters, who also happened o be my former students. We had an idea for a story, and we aren't the kind of girls who walk away from a dare." - Kami Garcia, co-author of Beautiful Creatures.

"I always wanted to write but never dreamed of a novel because I never finished anything. When my kids were seven and ten, I finally got five minutes to myself and my husband gave me a night once a week to take a creative writing class. Then I just started writing and haven’t stopped. My first book The Witchy Worries of Abbie Adams is an early result." - Rhonda Hayter, author of The Witchy Worries of Abbie Adams.

"I think novel-writing must have always lurked in the mists of the future for me – I wrote my first opus in first grade. In eighth grade, I wrote two teen romances—that was before I actually experienced teen romance (afterward, it was all tragic stories and poetry). But officially, Tell Me a Secret is my first novel. It encompasses all of those things- a little tragedy, a little romance – and most of all, hope." - Holly Cupala, author of Tell Me a Secret.

"Yes, I always knew it. However, it took me a few years to get the courage to write one, because it’s such a leap of faith. My first – a novel for adults called Small Circles – is in a drawer at my house. (I got great feedback, but it never sold.)Then it took me about seven more years to work up the courage to start another one, which became Forget-Her-Nots." - Amy Brecount White, author of Forget-Her-Nots.

"Not only did I not always know I would write a novel, but until 18 months ago, if you had asked, I’d have laughed in your face. HA! <---Just like that. The only thing of any length I’d ever written was my Doctoral dissertation and it nearly killed me (read “bored me to death”). I never thought I had the patience to write a WHOLE BOOK, nor did I have the faintest desire to do so. But, along came my daughter, who is an insane reader (read each Twilight book in a day). I don’t really understand how it happened—a brain aneurysm maybe—but I got the crazy notion to write her a book for her birthday last year. And I did. Without telling a soul, I wrote her a 100K word romantic adventure. She loved it and I caught the bug. No one but her has ever seen that book (The Reason) and no one ever will." - Lisa Desrochers, author of Personal Demons.

"I tried to write my first novel when I was 12. Needless to say, it was not very good and no, I didn't finish it. I'm trying to think what the title was, but I really don't remember it having one. I used to make up titles for books I hadn't written though, and add them to a list in my notebook. These are some of them: Forest, Two O'clock, Purple. These are not titles, they are just saying what something is." - Brenna Yovanoff, author of The Replacement.

"I always knew I'd write a novel, since I was five, but was inspired to write Split after coordinating a domestic violence legal clinic, where I interviewed thousands of abuse survivors." - Swati Avasthi, author of Split.
 "I always knew I would write. I never knew WHAT. I started in poetry. Then, sophomore year of college I wrote a 3-page short story called The Paranormal Roles of Oranges and Bananas. It was nonsensical and fun, and I wanted more. So I started to write. No outline, no plan. The result was The Shadow Mile, a strange, Alice-In-Wonderland-esque story that needed A LOT of work. I worked. It eventually landed me my agent, but that lack of planning meant it had a REALLY shaky foundation, and it never quite got its feet up under it. So I wrote another one. It was better." - Victoria Schwab, author of The Near Witch.

"No. I actually disliked writing as a teen and even well into adulthood. I started my first novel, which has had a number of titles (the last one is Living Out Loud) by accident. I didn't journal at the time either, but I just felt the need to write one day-it started as a journal entry and soon became more of a fictional story. I just kept going until I reached "The End". Then I just HAD to do it all over again!" - Denise Jaden, author of Losing Faith.

 "It's hard to remember that far back! I was writing stories since before I could read and had to recruit my mom to spell all the words for me. So I don't know if I ever thought "I'm going to write a novel one day" so much as I was just always spewing out stories. I started my first novel when I was eleven. It took me about a year to write, and I had so much fun with it! But I don't remember why I decided to start it. I do remember that it was called The Journey of the Seven Dragons and was about seven young dragons whose mother is taken by winged snake creatures I made up called Wyverns who wanted to eat her. The Wyverns were evil because they had stone hearts, and that meant their blood didn't get pumped properly, but just sloshed around and made them cranky. O__o And thankfully they had to marinate the dragons' mom for a long time before chowing down, so her seven children were able to embark on a super long quest to find her, no problem." - Chelsea Campbell, author of The Rise of Renegade X.

"I’ve wanted to write since age 9. I started writing what would become my first novel in middle school. I wrote in that world throughout high school and college, and started writing the novel which would become Speak the Trees in earnest one summer between the first and second year of my MFA as a challenge with Shannon Hale (who was writing The Goose Girl). Speak the Trees is still in the trunk--I hope to re-tool it someday. My first published novel was Hallowmere: In the Serpent's Coils in 2007." - Tiffany Trent, author of the Hallowmere series.
"Well, I’ve been writing and attempting to write novels forever. I completed my first 'novel' at the age of nine, though I hardly remember anything about it and I’m pretty sure it was some terribly maudlin frontier story in which all of the scrappy characters die at the end. My first serious novel was called A Measure of Light, and I completed it during my last year of college. It was signed by an agent in New York, sent around to various publishers, and widely rejected by all of them on the basis of it having 'no plot.' Um, I guess that’s important?" - Lauren Oliver, author of Before I Fall.
"From a pretty young age, I always knew that I wanted to write! I finished my first manuscript, which was an adult horror novel, when I was around 19 and I even managed to get an agent for it. What I didn’t know was that it would be a different novel, with a different agent, in a different genre, and in a different decade, that would be my first published work. Oh, and my first novel (forever locked away!) was called One of Them." - Kimberly Derting, author of The Body Finder.

"I had no idea I'd write a novel that would be published (you always hear how impossible it is) and I certainly never imagined 13 to Life being my first novel since it started as a simple experiment on Textnovel.com." - Shannon Delany, author of 13 to Life: A Werewolf’s Tale.

"I've known that I wanted to write books for as long as I can remember. I started my very first novel in third grade; it had no title (it also had no paragraph divisions), but it was about a girl and her dog who got shipwrecked on a deserted island. At the time I was obsessed with both the Black Stallion books and the Lassie movies, which explains the plot." - Leah Cypess, author of Mistwood.

Don't forget to come back for more tomorrow!

There are 17 more amazing authors to come, including Lisa Schroeder, Kristina McBride, Tessa Gratton, Steph Bowe, and Jessica Leader. In weeks to come, all 31 authors will tell you what they need when they write, what their flaws are, and how they tackle writerly problems. They'll also share some secrets about their books and dole out some advice for aspiring writers, so stay tuned!!!


  1. Really fun to read all of these (and to put some faces to some authors names!) Thanks for posting this and including me.

  2. Love this! So much fun to read about my fellow authors :p

  3. what a fabulous post with even more fabulous authors.

    thank you so much for sharing!!

  4. I'm adding my praise - very fun to be involved, and to hear from fellow authors! I'm looking forward to the rest of the series.

  5. This sounded like a fun idea for blog posts from the beginning and seeing it for real is even better.

  6. So fun! Looking forward to reading the rest of the questions & responses! :)