Recently, I answered some questions for Briana Ryan’s blog. Some of these questions are things my fans ask me a lot, and some of these questions are just interesting. So, I thought I’d repost the interview here for you.
1.When did you decide to start writing books?
First, Briana, thank you so much for having me at your blog. I’ve love sharing my story with readers. Now, to answer your question – It’s all my hubby’s fault. You see, I was born in Alabama and I come from a long line of storytellers. Some of my earliest memories are sitting around with my family, listening to them tell stories. Now I’ll be honest. In my family, the truth never got in the way of our telling a good story, which is why our stories often got bigger, and better, each time we told them. What was important was making people laugh and, boy howdy, did we laugh a lot in my family. Before long, I was telling my own stories, too. As for writing those stories down on paper, well, that didn’t happen until later and that’s where my hubby comes in.
I was a new bride in my early twenties and Hubby asked me what I wanted to do with my life. He thought I would say I wanted to become a school teacher and would go to college and get the education I needed. Now, I do love teaching other people but I thought about it for a moment and then I told him I wanted to be a writer. Only problem was, I was dyslexic. That meant I sometimes got my words mixed up or I just flat-out left them out completely when I tried to put my stories down on paper. So becoming a writer was a lot harder for me than for most people. I had to learn how to deal with my dyslexia right along with learning how to write. But the struggle was worth it. I can’t imagine doing anything else.
2. How did you decide what type of supernatural each of the main characters would be in the (Shadow Falls series)?
Oh, that’s a great question. Now, I know this answer will sound a little strange but it’s the truth. Here’s what happened when I started creating the characters for Shadow Falls—I let the characters define themselves.
Now, I knew that I would have vampires, werewolves, shape-shifters, witches and faes in the series. I just didn’t know which character would be which type of supernatural, and that is where the characters themselves came in. I started with Kylie and then I moved on to the other characters. For example, when Della first appeared, she had this impenetrable wall around her that she wouldn’t let anyone get past. She came across as being tough but I knew that the toughness probably had a lot to do with things that had happened to her, and once Della and I “talked,” I found out I was right. But now, having known Della for several books, can you imagine her as anything but a vampire? I know I can’t. She embodies the very nature of that species. And that is the way it worked for the other characters, too—once they appeared, they let me know which species they were. Well, all of them except for Kylie, of course—but that’s only because she wasn’t quite sure where she fit in.
3. How did you come up with the story line of the Shadow Falls series?
The idea of the paranormal summer camp actually came from my editor Rose Hilliard at St. Martin’s Press/Griffin. And that’s all she said to me, too—”paranormal camp.” She expected me to come up with the rest. But you know what? Those two words were enough to get my imagination going. Once I got Kylie figured out, the rest of the characters sprang to life, and each of them brought a piece of the plotline with them. Now, I’ll be honest. When I started Born at Midnight, the first book in the Shadow Falls series, I had no idea how the story would end. And now that I’m starting the final book, Chosen at Nightfall, I still have no idea which boy Kylie will end up with or what will ultimately happen to her and her friends at Shadow Falls Camp/Academy. But that’s okay. That’s how my writing process works—I learn the specifics of the book as I write it. And I gotta be honest. I think that’s why I love writing so much—I love finding out how the story ends, right along with my characters.
4. How did you decide what Kylie’s friends would be?
Well, as I said above, the characters are the ones who tell me who they are. Believe me, I’ve tried to tell them but that just doesn’t work out. For example, I can start writing a story where I *think* I know who the bad guy is, only to find out as I get about to the end that I was wrong. So I’ve learned to let the characters lead the way. Often, I don’t find out what is going to happen next until they do. I know it sounds a little crazy but that’s what works for me.
5. Did you cut out or scrap any characters during the writing process?
That’s a good question. Back when I was learning how to write—we’re talking about twenty something years ago at this point—I did have to scrap whole scenes and even whole characters because it was necessary for the story. Of course, I was learning the process then, learning what worked for me and what didn’t. It’s something every writer has to figure out on her own. Now, I generally have a better handle on the writing process so I don’t usually have to cut out characters.
6. If you were a Supernatural like the ones in shadow falls what would you be? Would you be rogue, a Shadow Falls Camper on your own out in the world doing your own thing, or working for the FRU full time?
Hmm. It’s hard for me to answer because I’ve made some changes to the mythology for many of my supernaturals in the Shadow Falls series. Some of them, like vampires, shape-shifters, and werewolves, can be scary but once you get to know them as characters, you’ll realize they all have some good qualities. I think that’s what makes it so hard for me to choose—I don’t want to be unfaithful to any of my characters. LOL. But if I had to choose, I’d probably go with either a witch or a fae. I think these characters offer the most options . . . although I think it would be totally cool to be able to fly like a vampire does. LOL.
Now, as for what I would do if I were in the Shadow Falls universe . . . that’s a great question. First, I know I’m not cut out to be a rogue. I feel more comfortable being around friends and family, rather than going it alone. So, I’d probably work for the FRU, though I’m no where near as brave as Kylie. I admire her determination and the way she is fearless in the face of danger to her friends and loved ones. I feel that way about my kids; I think it’s a Mom thing, really.
7. Anything to say to aspiring authors just starting out?
You know, I’m often asked to speak to a group of aspiring writers and when I do, I tell them the same things I tell anyone who has a dream they cherish. Namely, believe in yourself. Believe in your dream. And don’t give up, no matter how many rejections you may accumulate. Stay strong and keep working toward your goals. If it’s writing, take writing classes, attend writers’ conferences and soak up as much knowledge as you can while you’re there. And read. Read widely. Read anything and everything you can get your hands on. And most of all, never let anyone steal your dream from you. Because I don’t care what the “experts” will tell you about the odds of making your dream a reality. I heard it all, too. I was a dyslexic high school drop-out when I decided I wanted to make my living as a writer. Believe me, the experts didn’t think I had a good chance of making it. If I’d listened to them, I never would. But I listened to myself. I believed in myself. And I made it. You can, too.