Jennifer Ellis, author of A Pair of Docks (a clever time travel novel – highly recommended), and the newly released In the Shadow of the Mosquito Constellation just tagged me in a series of blog posts about the writing process.
Here’s how My Writing Process Blog Tour works: once tagged, you answer four questions about the writing process and then tag three other authors. At the bottom of this post, you will find the three talented authors I managed to tag (I’m still out of breath – chasing authors can be hard work!)
And now, the questions…
What am I working on?
I am actively working on NOT checking email while I search for an agent for my latest middle grade manuscript, Inside Hudson Pickle.
My current work-in-progress, tentatively titled Fire on Red, is about Ethan Matheson who readers of Trouble in the Trees will recognize as Bree’s neighbor. During author visits, I’ve had a lot of kids (boys, mostly) name Ethan as their favourite character. In response, I’ve moved him from Cedar Grove to Rossland where he does not fit in with the hardcore biking / skiing lifestyle. Instead of making friends, he spends his time hiking the local mountains (and trying to find some trees to climb) where he meets a recluse and stumbles upon the cause of a mysterious rash of forest fires that are putting his new home town at risk.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Great question! My immediate answer is that it’s contemporary – an honest portrayal of ordinary but loveable children dealing with the everyday problems of the real (western) world. I write the kind of books I loved when I was growing up, books like Judy Blume’s Are you there God? It’s me Margaret, that made me feel like I was reading about a friend (or myself.) For middle grade readers, these books have become somewhat rare in a market that is dominated by fantasy and farce.
Why do I write what I do?
I start with a premise I love – and I come up with about a hundred of these a day (okay – that’s an exaggeration but I do get enough ideas to find it distracting). I only write when the character involved starts “speaking” to me. Not in a crazy writer muttering to themselves kind of way… in a way that makes me feel I could really bring the character to life on the page.
Without consciously meaning to, I tend to write books that give hope and indirectly encourage children to speak up and make a difference (things I wanted to do myself when I was kid but often couldn’t). I’m not sure parents appreciate this when they come home from my author visits chanting “No More Rules!”
How does my writing process work?
Once I’ve got the idea and the character I write a very brief outline. Then I start typing – at least two hours a day at my treadmill desk. I try to move the story forward as quickly as possible to get a rough draft. Then I begin the tedious process of revising and rewriting – but only if I still want to spend time with that character (which often times I do, but only after a little – or long – break).
That’s it, folks! Thanks for the tag! To find out more about Jennifer Ellis, who in addition to being a smart, talented writer is also a fellow Rosslander and great walking partner, check out her blog. And make sure to visit the websites and blogs of the three amazing authors I managed to tag;
Sara Cassidy lives in Victoria with her three kids. Her fifth novel for kids and young teens, titled Skylark, was released by Orca this spring. Skylark is about a girl who discovers the transportive power of poetry while she is living in a car with her mother and brother. Sara’s previous titles have all been Canadian Children’s Book Centre Best Books selections with a Junior Library Guild Selection and Chocolate Lily Award finalist among them. Rumour has it that Sara has recently finished a novel for teens with the awesome title… Yolanda. Can’t wait to read it!
Mark Smith is an English teacher who has written for journals, travel companies, marketing companies, newspapers… and also has three kids. His debut novel, Caravaggio: Signed in Blood, is being released in October by Tradewind Books. Caravaggio: Signed in Blood is a historical novel for 12-14-year olds which follows Beppo Ghirlandi as he flees Rome with the artist Caravaggio – an adventure complete with sword fights, pirate battles, and even a bit of romance.
Lindsey Carmichael may have been my sister in a previous lifetime. Our professional lives have followed a similar pattern – from science degree to graduate school (almost in the same lab) to writing for kids – but our paths have only crossed virtually (and I can’t wait to meet her in person one day). She is the author of the award nominated book, Fox Talk (highly recommended), and eight other non-fiction titles including the forthcoming, Fuzzy Forensics.
These three writers will be posting their responses in the next week or so. I learned a lot answering the questions and reading the responses of other writers “on the tour” so I’m looking forward to hearing what they have to say. For now, I’ve gotta run – have fun, everyone!