by Shari Randall
I’ve been gearing up for the January 2018 publication of my debut novel, CURSES, BOILED AGAIN! Along with setting up appearances at libraries and bookstores, I’ve been invited to do guest posts on several blogs. Many thanks to those who extended invitations! My publisher was as thrilled as I am by these opportunities for readers to get to know me better. But as I’ve begun writing those posts, I’ve gotten a bit stuck.
True confession: I have always aspired to be a reclusive author. Those of you who know me are laughing, but it’s true. Writing for me is a very personal business. It makes my inner introvert assert herself. Interview? No thanks. I, uh, have to wash my hair.
Plus, I’m boring. Honestly, when was the last time I piloted a fighter jet, found a dead body in my woods, or drove in a Grand Prix race? Ran a triathlon, frolicked with dolphins, or whipped up a Baked Alaska?
I have tons of librarian stories, but since I’m bound by the librarian code, I can’t share those with anyone outside the cardigan sisterhood/brotherhood.
It’s a conundrum. How do writers, most of whom identify as introverts, deal with the demands of marketing and social media? And how do we come up with fresh content for getting-to-know-you blogs?
My last blog was about defeating writer’s block. Experts say that the key to get writing is to “prime the pump” with a prompt. But where to get a great prompt, a great question to get me started?
Many of a certain age will remember the infamous Barbara Walters interview question, “If you could be a tree, what kind of tree would you be?” I think I’ll give that prompt a pass.
As I was contemplating this, I received an email from Clarissa Goenawan, a fellow member of a writers group called Authors 18, authors with debut works coming out in 2018. It’s a support and celebration group. As each of us learns a new skill for navigating the waters of publishing, we share it with the group. Clarissa, whose book Rainbirds will debut in March 2018, shared several interview questions that are great writing prompts for guest blogs. With her blessing, here they are:
- What’s the story behind the title of your book?
- If you could spend a day with one of your characters, who would it be and what
would you do?
- Are your characters based on real people, or do they come from your imagination?
- What kind of research did you do for this book?
- Are you a plotter or a pantser?
- What is your favorite part of your writing process, and why?
- What is the most challenging part of your writing process, and why?
- Have you ever gotten writer’s block? If yes, how do you overcome it?
- If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
- How did you get into writing?
- What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
- Which book influenced you the most?
- What’s your favorite writing advice?
Inspired by these questions, I came up with some more that I’d like to have an author answer – and that I think will be fun to answer myself.
My question for you is – what question would you like to ask an author? Please share in the comments below. And also, if you are in the mood, If you could be a tree, what kind of tree would you be?
I’ll go with magnolia.
Excellent post, Shari. Be prepared for a question like, what have you learned about the writing and publishing process that you wish you had known when you started. Or, what is the most valuable thing you have learned on the way to publication.
Congratulations on your publication.
My best advice to people is to let their real self shine through.
As someone who lives in logging country, I’m going to choose a hemlock. They grow straight, and strong, and their wood is so gnarly that my sawyer (himself of Polish extraction) refers to it as Polack Pine, and therefore rarely cut down in the woods for lumber, paper, or cardboard.
Me? I'll be a Live Oak since they live near the beach and are evergreens! My question (even though I will be interviewing you in January)--How did you put yourself out there to get an agent and a contract? I was sitting next to you at Malice when you saw an agent, got up, and sat down at her table. My eyebrows rose as my jaw dropped. How did you have the nerve to do that?
Sequoia, to see what happens over the course of a century. My question for historical fiction would be why chose your person out of all the people in history?
Congratulations, Shari. I agree with Jim that you should let your best part show through. Just knowing you, Shari, I know you would have people liking the fun side of you. As for a tree, I have so many I like, but I think I'd pick an oak, too, because they're strong and live a long time, and they have acorns that squirrels and other creatures like to eat.
Great questions, Grace, thank you!
Jim, after reading these responses, I'm starting to think that Barbara Walters was on to something! I totally can see you as a hemlock - and I think your sawyer is a hoot. And it's pretty awesome that you have your own sawyer.
EB, I love your answer. I thought about live oak too, because of how resilient they are and that they are close to the beach. You'd have to have a beach loving tree!
About that agent? A couple of reasons....I think the main one is that I've missed some opportunities over the years and I hate that feeling of kicking myself because I missed them. Fortune favors the bold, right? I was terrified when I went over to her, but the funny thing is, she turned out to be so nice! (full disclosure - she turned me down. but nicely) After that I gave myself a new motto, but I'll save that one for the interview. ;)
Hi Warren, I love sequoias and redwoods. Walking near them, you can feel the weight and wisdom of centuries. More than any other tree, they feel the most alive to me.
Hi Gloria, thank you! I can see you liking such a cheerful and social tree - oaks are gathering places and then turn such beautiful colors, too.
Sounds to me like you've got plenty of material for interviews and blogs.
One question I would like to know the answer to is: How much control do you have of your characters, and how much do they go wandering off your outline to do as they please?
Hi KM, That is a good question! My characters can be pretty hard to wrangle, and there is one who keeps popping up, even though I don't have a place for her. She may be one of those persistent characters who doesn't stop until they get a story. Stay tuned!
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