Monday, February 24, 2014

Writer Recharge Update #2 & TBG Author Interview: Jennifer Walkup!

So I'll just say right now that I pretty much failed at my goals last week.  I only managed to get on the treadmill once before I had to take the rest of the week off since my foot has been killing me because I need to buy a proper pair of exercise shoes and as for my WIP, I only touched it once and the whole process felt like pulling teeth, ugh.  So I decided to take a short break on that project and focus my attention on one of my new YA Horror ideas I've been playing around with and on Saturday I managed to write the first 1,263 of the story and actually enjoyed the process this time-ha, imagine that! :)

In other news, here's an interview I did with Jennifer Walkup, author of SEOND VERSE, for your reading pleasure!

When Jennifer Walkup isn’t writing or reading, she’s spending time with her husband and young sons, listening to Red Hot Chili Peppers, and coming up with costume ideas for Halloween. She’s obsessed with good coffee and new recipes and likes broccoli on her pizza, flowers in her hair, flip-flops on her feet, and the number 13. A member of SCBWI and RWA, Jennifer also serves as fiction editor for The Meadowland Review and teaches creative writing at The Writers Circle. Second Verse is her first novel.

1) How did you first come to the realization that you wanted to be a writer and then later when you decided to pursue publication?
Hi there! I’ve been writing forever, since I was a kid, and then through high school and college. I published a few short stories over the years, but it wasn’t until after I had my kids that I started to think about writing novels and dipping my toes in the book publishing waters.

2) How did you come up with the idea for SECOND VERSE? Did it just come to you, or was it more of a gradual progression?
Like most stories, SECOND VERSE went through a bazillion drafts and changes before becoming the final book it is today. It was definitely a progression. My early drafts are very exploratory. There are a few plot threads that may still be there from the early ideas, but not many. I write a lot of drafts and things often change quite drastically. As for where the idea for the novel came from, it did start with a teeny kernel of an idea, inspired in part by the anniversary of the death of a very famous musician (it’s a long story, and I have it posted on my site!second-verse-extras/c1yhf). I don’t want to give too much away, but I started asking myself lots of questions about what is here besides us, and what happens to us after all this. And it wasn’t just my take on these things that inspired me, but also weighing all the different ways people think about these things.

3) What were the most difficult and best parts of writing SV?
The best and worst parts are often the same for me – figuring the story out. Writing is hard work some days, and completely blissful others. There is no better feeling than the rush of figuring out plot twists or having things unravel in a way that works to tie plotlines together. But other times, getting to know my characters, or figuring out the best way to plot the mystery – keeping it suspenseful, not giving too much away, keeping people guessing – can be challenging. But even with the challenges, on a good writing day, it feels like you’re on top of the world.

4) What did your friends and family think when you told them you were writing SV?
My family has always stood behind me and been really supportive. Second Verse is my fifth novel written (though my first published), so they’ve been through the crazy, fun, 0and hectic ride with me for many novels before this one.

5) What was your journey to publication for SV?
I had been working on my young adult thriller, Second Verse, for a few years. I was in a unique position because I had just parted ways with my agent around the time Second Verse was really ready for editors. I had to decide – did I want to query agents again or did I want to query editors directly? After some soul searching and research, I decided on the latter. And I’m glad I did!

6) What was your reaction and what did you do to celebrate when your agent offered you representation and then later when you found out SV was going to be published?
I was really excited, but it was surreal. After writing and trying to publish for years, it felt like I was being punked! Luckily, I wasn’t.:) I think I celebrated with something small, like champagne at home after I signed my contract. But I think writers should celebrate everything they can. Writers face so much rejection, so I think it’s really important to take the time to appreciate every positive thing along the way: a good review, an award, nice emails from readers.

7) Where do you draw your inspiration from while you are writing? For example, do you listen to music while you write or sit outside?
Unfortunately I don’t have a ton of free time to write, so I try and sneak in a few hours no matter where I am. Optimally, I love being anywhere in nature. A quiet cabin in the woods, surrounded by trees is my absolute ideal, and I love writing at the beach too. But, mostly, I’m sitting on my couch or at my dining room table. I don’t listen to music while writing, but I do often listen to it before sitting down to write or revise, especially if I’m feeling distracted by life and need to reconnect with the story before working. I have my playlist for Second Verse posted on my site:!second-verse-extras/c1yhf

8) How do you stay motivated to write? Even though you are now a published author, have you ever wanted to give up? And if so, how did you pull yourself back from the "edge"?
It’s hard to stay motivated sometimes! Some stories and some drafts come really easily, but even then, it’s work. I have to set a schedule and stick to it. I’m one of those write-every-day writers. I find if I skip a day or two, it’s really hard to get back into my story and my characters. Writing is hard, because we only have ourselves to keep us on track. So it’s basically just BIC (Butt In Chair), and putting one word after another. And yes, I’ve definitely considered giving up (who hasn’t?), but the writer part of me doesn’t like being dormant, and I can’t go too long without storytelling in some form. It’s who I am! I think the best way to come back from the “edge” is to write something I love just for me. If I’m not thinking about publishing it, and maybe not even thinking about anyone else ever reading it, it often releases the pressure, and just lets me do what I love: be creative and tell a story.

9) Tell us about your writing habits: where you write, when you write, how much you write, etc.
I typically try for mornings, because I’m most efficient then, before the hectic-ness of daily life gets in the way of my creative thinking. I find if I can carve out two or three solid hours in the morning, I can usually manage 1500-2000 words, sometimes less, sometimes more (it’s usually about a chapter or so). When that happens, it’s enough for me to consider the day a writing win, and little enough that I don’t get overloaded or burned out.

10) What is your writing process like?
I don’t really have one. I write many, many drafts of my novels (I don’t outline). So it’s basically just write and then rewrite and then rewrite and so on.

11) What kind of atmosphere do you prefer to write in, calm or chaos?
Calm. Definitely.

12) Now that you're a published author and a more experienced writer, what advice would you give to your unpublished self?
Don’t give up. Keep writing. (And reading as much as possible, too!)

13) Do you have any new writing projects in the works? Can you tell us about them?
I’m working on the sequel to SECOND VERSE. It’s expected out in about a year or so! Thanks so much for having me on your blog!

No, thank you, Jennifer! :)

1 comment:

Kim Smith said...

great interview!! and her advice is spot on. DONT STOP KEEP READING KEEP WRITING there is none better. Hope you have a productive week!