The 21 Minus blog tour is the brainchild of Anna Waggener, 2012 debut novelist and fellow PUSH Novel Contest Winner. It brings together authors under the age of 21 in a series of interviews. Today I have the privilege of interviewing Laura, a tremendously talented college student who is currently working towards publication. Once you're done reading the interview, hop on over to Laura's blog, where she's interviewing yet another teen author. If you follow the links in a big circle (there are around 10 of us) and collect all the one-word responses to the final question ("Describe your WIP in one word"), you'll be entered to win all sorts of awesome prizes, as listed below. You also get extra entries for tweeting/blogging/otherwise promoting the 21 Minus blog tour. To learn more, check out Anna's blog. This really is a great opportunity to get to know some awesome teen writers as well as win free stuff (and let's face it, who doesn't love free stuff?).
One winner will receive a signed, personalized copy of Anna's debut novel GRIM.
One winner will receive a bag of coffee, donated by Laura.
One winner will receive a ten page critique through Teen Eyes, from yours truly :).
And the grand prize winner will get to choose FIVE books from the following list:
BORDER CROSSING by Jessica Lee Anderson
CINDER by Marissa Meyer
DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth
THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green
GIRL MEETS BOY edited by Kelly Milner Halls
THE GIRL WHO CIRCUMNAVIGATED FAIRYLAND IN A SHIP OF HER OWN MAKING by Catherynne Valente
GRACELING by Kristin Cashore
LIAR by Justine Larbalestier
THE SCORPIO RACES by Maggie Stiefvater
SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson
SPLIT by Swati Avasthi
THE THIEF by Megan Whalen Turner
THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER by Michelle Hodkin
WILDFIRE by Karsten Knight
WITHER by Lauren DeStefano
Pretty awesome if you ask me. I know I'll be hopping around the blogosphere today. So without further ado, here's my interview with Laura! I'm so glad to have her, especially considering her answers are way more awesome than my questions (who knew coming up with interview questions could be so hard?).
1. As a college student, how do you balance writing with schoolwork? Do you have any time management tips?
How do I balance writing with schoolwork? Well, the unfortunate truth is that I often don't. I have a high courseload that, while it hasn't been too heavy on homework, involves lots of reading, time-consuming back-to-back classes, and a lot of work and events outside of class. However, I do have several time management strategies that I try to use. You get to plan your own schedule in college, so I made sure to pick classes that fit my normal rhythm. I am a night owl, not a morning person, and since my earliest class is at 10am I can afford to stay up late writing. Another tip is to plan the weekend wisely. Saturdays are my "lazy days," and I often go to the library or, if I have money that week, to the coffee shop to write. Other than that, I would advise to work on your book mentally even while you aren't writing. Some of my best ideas have come from daydreaming.
2. Your ambition is to be a published author. What’s your favorite genre to write in? Have you completed any novels, and if so, how many?
Fantasy!!! Haha, it's the most fun genre to write in because you get to make up or change entire worlds. "Why is it like that?" "Because it's magic!" Of course, you want to keep it believable and not contrived -- but that's the challenge, isn't it? I like that balance between real and unreal, the suspension of disbelief. Of course, fantasy is not the only genre I write in, and novels aren't the only form. I write a lot of poetry, and am finding more and more that I quite enjoy writing nonfiction, essays, and opinion pieces.
I have not completed any novels...yet. I'm working on it steadily, though. Part of the reason neither main WIP is complete is because I am such a perfectionist. I write and then stop to edit, which is a terrible habit to get into because it interferes with continuity.
3. What are some of your favorite YA books? Why?
The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer (science fiction) might just be my favorite young adult book of all time. I would have to wax elegant and spoil the plot to tell you why, though.
I also love The Abhorsen Trilogy by Garth Nix; Sabriel is one I immediately recommend when asked "Do you know any good YA?" It's young adult dark fantasy, and I like it because the world is so intricate and well-constructed. The trilogy also pushes the envelope for what people think YA readers can handle. Quite apart from being borderline horror that might shock your mother, it also has complex themes and some abstract ideas and concepts.
A more recent book that I greatly enjoyed was Fury by Elizabeth Miles. I loved that it was about the Greek Furies interfering in modern people's lives -- a refreshing break from demigods and vampires. Since it's about people being punished by the Furies for their sins, the main characters aren't exactly likeable, yet they are compelling and realistic. Despite their bad qualities, I cared very much about what would happen to them.
Some good books that I've read lately are Before I Fall (contemporary) and Ms. Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children (horror/paranormal/fantasy).
4. If you could have lunch with any author, who would it be and why?
I have to choose one?! If I'm limited to living authors, I'd say Stephen King. I would reference Misery in creepy ways. ;) Oh no wait, I'd rather eat with George R.R. Martin so that I could obsess about his books and demand to know whether a certain character *cough*JonSnow*cough* is actually dead or if he will be coming back as a zombie or what. (Yes, I am a complete geek for Game of Thrones. Are you surprised?)
Or maybe I'd rather just have lunch with Nancy Farmer, because she seems like a normal, balanced person and I'd like to talk about how her upbringing in the Southwest influenced her work.
5. When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
This is going to sound awful, but I've always been very good at lying to people. It's probably why I'm an actor. For instance, I once convinced my brother that he was adopted from aliens, and that the word "catatonic" meant a tonic made out of cats. If you think about it, writing and acting are ways to tell the truth via a lie. I've always enjoyed doing that, but I had a "Eureka!" moment in eighth grade when I realized that I didn't want to have to stop writing after I was finished with school. That was when I officially decided to be a writer.
6. Do you have any advice for younger teen (or any age, really) writers who are just starting out?
Believe in your writing. Believe that what you have to say or write is worth reading, and worth writing. It is so easy to let others' opinions influence you, or to get overwrought with worry about what people will say or think about your writing. You'll hear a lot of people say that "amateurs write for themselves," but that's not necessarily a bad thing. The act of writing is an act of communication, after all, so perhaps these "amateurs" are simply truer to themselves. Writing is all about you, after all. Finish the novel before you start worrying about readership, the market, and whether your mom will like it. Be...well, be a little more amateur in that regard.
Also, write every day. You're young and will be developing a voice. The only way to develop a voice is to write until you settle into it. Having a blog (and posting regularly) is a great way to do this.
7. If you had to describe your latest WIP in one word, what would it be?
Personal. Apart from the sorcery, I shamelessly based many things in this one on myself -- right down to the names of my exes. ;)
Thanks for coming, Laura! And thanks to Anna for arranging the blog tour. If you have time, stop by the other interviews and check out the prizes!