1. You’re a busy lady! You write and teach school as well as being active on two successful writing related blogs. What would you say to a writer who’s struggling to find time to write?
Yes, teaching and writing can make for a busy schedule, but I squeeze in my writing because it’s so important. You have to gift yourself the time.
For myself, I have to schedule a time every day to write. I get up before light o’clock and write while everyone is asleep. I’m a morning person, but I know plenty of night owls who do their best work after the kids have gone to bed.
Then there are the lucky few who can write on lunch breaks at work. It doesn’t matter when you do it, as long as you have a dedicated time for you, for your creative work.
2. I love the concept behind your debut book ‘Shades of the Future’. Where did you get the idea?
I’ve always had times when I could sense what might be coming. I think everyone has those moments from time to time, but most of us don’t really pay attention to them.
The idea of seeing into the future is a tempting notion for many people, especially young adults curious about how their lives will unfold. However, will we always like what we see? I think not. That’s where the kernel idea for this story was born.
3. In your opinion, what’s a recipe for a novel that will resonate with readers?
The two main ingredients that will keep readers turning pages are a good plot and realistic emotions. With that in mind, here’s my recipe.
Take two parts of a fresh plot and one part of intense emotion. Stir them together in a pot (your setting) with divergent characters and a heaping dollop of details. Gradually turn up the heat (tension) as high as your characters can stand it. Let it simmer and cook till it’s well done.
Then taste test it, (send it to beta readers and critique partners) and add more spices if needed. (This is your editing and revising stage.) Continue with the taste testing and adding spices until the flavor of your creation is out of this world.
4. What do you feel is the best/worst part about being a writer?
The best part is the creative challenges and the research about new things. The worst part for me is the uncertainty of it all. Will it be good enough to satisfy my readers?
5. Which of your stories was the most difficult for you to write and why?
My most difficult novel to write was my first. It was an historical novel about the gold rush in California. I didn’t know my own writing process yet, so I spent countless hours splicing, dicing, and cutting.
I wrote three novels before I finally settled on a writing system that works for me. I knew when I had found my writing path because my novel began to flow and everything clicked into place.
Now, once I have my idea and plotting firmly in mind, the stories don’t take long to put on paper. The most time intensive part is the revising, getting just the right turn of phrase to give it the intention and feeling I want.
6. How do you handle research for your novels? For example, Shades of the Future deals with a heroine in a wheelchair. What kind of research did you have to do for that?
I like to do personal interviews whenever possible for research. Over the years, I’ve worked with people in wheelchairs and had students in wheelchairs. I talked to them to find out how they feel about the situation and how they deal with daily tasks.
For historical research, as in my gold rush novel, I used as many primary documents as possible. I visited museums, libraries, and archives, and I talked to people whose families settled the area.
I want my stories to be authentic, and good research allows me to be true to the story.
7. How have you changed as a writer from when you first started writing?
When I first began writing with publication in mind, I kept it on the down low. As my writing improved and I began selling short stories and articles, I became more confident and more open about it. Now I tell everyone I’m a writer.
Another thing that’s changed for me that I didn’t expect, is I’m more in love with writing more today than when I first started. My appreciation of the magical quality of words and my enjoyment of writing continues to grow.
8. How do you deal with writer’s block?
This may sound silly, but I go watch a television program. Usually I watch old reruns of Murder She Wrote or Battlestar Galactica. I also like to watch Ringer.
As I watch, I notice how the scriptwriters build tension, keep the mystery going, and how they tie things together. Even the smallest details come into play during the shows. After an hour of that, I go back to the computer and spend some time free writing. That’s usually all it takes to get things going on the page.
9. What do you believe is the most important thing a new writer can do to further her writing career?
There are three things:
Seriously, there’s no substitute for practice. If a musician wants to further her career, she practices in her studio. If a gymnast wants to get better, she practices at the gym. If a chef wants to improve, she practices in the kitchen.
Reading books and studying the process will give you tips, but at some point you must stop reading and practice. Once you’ve mastered the basics, you still have to practice to develop the finer skills. So, write, write, and write.
10. Please share anything else you’d like to add.
First of all, I want to thank Sonya Weiss for having me on her blog today. She’s helped me learn about the true meaning of strength.
Second, I’d like to share a bit about my upcoming release, Shades of the Future, available July 15, 2012.
What would you give to see the future? Would you make your dreams come true? Would you change the things you didn’t like?
Mariah Davis loves animals, running, and her hunk of a boyfriend, Kevin Creamer. Everything looks bright for her until the day she finds a pair of sunglasses that allow her to see the future.
When she glimpses a disaster looming, she tries to avoid it but fails. She has a car accident that lands her in a wheelchair, smashing her hopes for a running scholarship to the veterinary program at Ohio State University. She pushes Kevin away, thinking he’ll want to end their relationship now that she can’t walk.
Will she ever learn to trust and love again? She could search for an answer in the sunglasses. But she’s afraid what they reveal might destroy her.
I’ll be on blog tour during the month of July, celebrating with a giveaway of a pair of designer sunglasses to one lucky commenter. I’ll be posting the schedule with dates and blogs on my author website, and my TeacherWriter blog.
Also, since Mariah works at an animal rescue shelter, and I have a special tender spot in my heart for pet rescues, I’ll be donating 10% of the royalties from this book to the ASPCA.
Thanks for stopping by today. If you want to know anything else, just ask and I’ll answer. Unless it has to do with my height, weight, or age!
Where to find Suzanne Lilly online: