This week again I was lucky enough to have a YA author give me an exclusive interview! The idea behind the “Writer in the Spotlight” feature is that published (and bestselling) authors are the best source of advice for us, would-be-published writers. Today’s interview is with the wonderful Rebecca Maizel, one of my favorite YA authors.
A writer in the spotlight – 6
Author : Rebecca Maizel
Genre : Young Adult, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Location: Rhode Island, USA
Website : http://rebeccamaizel.com/
Bio: Rebecca Maizel graduated from Boston University and the Rhode Island College master’s program. She teaches community college in Rhode Island and is studying to receive her MFA from Vermont College.
My interview (29/04/2012):
Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve been writing since I was a little girl. When I was a kid most people were playing with Barbies, I was using my sister’s video camera to make movies starring my Barbies. I guess I was thinking in a narrative format even when I was really little! Also, I loved dance. I was in recitals and danced competitively until I was an older teenager. There was a connection for me between a choreographed dance and a choreographed scene. I haven’t gotten to the bottom of this yet – but I will!
When and where do you write?
It really depends on the day. I write in my office at home, mostly. But these days if I’ve seen too much of my office, I’ll work at a coffee shop. In Rhode Island, I love a place called Java Madness which is fun because it’s right on top of the water. Mornings are best for me creatively but revisions I can do at night.
Do you ever experience writer’s block?
I try to listen to music, which is similar in tone to what I am writing. I go for long walks, I put the project down for a few days. Sometimes what helps is writing a letter from one character to another character within the story, writing from their point of view. For instance, in Infinite Days, I might write a letter to Lenah from Justin or vice versa. I usually do this with a character or situation I am having trouble pushing through.
What do you say to people who want to be writers? How difficult is it to get published?
You have to love the craft. Don’t write just to be published. Write because your characters deserve your time and effort. Write because this story is coming to you from the depths of your gut. Publishing will come in its due time. Hone your craft, perfect your sentences. Make it sing.
Is it better to outline and plot your novel or “go with the flow”?
Well, I think it really depends on your story. I always find it best to outline. There’s that dreaded ACT II of your book that somehow always needs the most work. I find it helpful to outline as best as I can. I usually veer off from it but if the major act points are there, I know the direction of my scenes. You can still “go with the flow” even if you have a direction.
Do you set goals for yourself as you write?
Outside of my editors’ deadlines? No. I write as scenes come to me. I get my best work done when I’m driving listening to music. Then I rush home, and get them down on paper. Sometimes this takes hours and I have a rush of scenes. I make sure that I write a 4-5 hours every day and make some progress. Sometimes progress means reading because I need inspiration.
On “The Vampire Queen” novels:
To write this specific series, where did you get your inspiration from? Were you aware of the coming vampire trend in YA literature when you wrote it?
I started to free write one day. I literally sat down, started writing and Lenah’s voice came through, I let her tell the story and 8 months later, I had a draft of Infinite Days. I wish this story were more exciting. I should say something like, I fell down, cracked my head and when I was in the hospital, I had A VISION! A near death experience! But no, I was in a dark library free writing.
After I had written the novel, I started to read everything in the genre so I could see what else was being published. Someone recommended the Twilight series to me and I thought (after reading it) “wow, this is huge. I wonder if there is room in this genre for me?”
Lenah Beaudonte: How did you come up with this (awesome) character?
I connected to her voice. It was so strong; and sinister and tragic. I wanted to tap into that sorrow and darkness. I wanted to bring this person, whoever she was back out to light. It turned out that she was a vampire and thematically, it worked. Every person out there has done something they aren’t proud of. And whatever that thing is, they have to live with it – forever. That’s Lenah but times about a million! I just started writing one day and there she was with a motive, a purpose, and some really scary enemies.
What type of music do you listen to when you write this series?
I listen to music when I write but it has to be music without lyrics. Most of the time its operatic or choral music like a soundtrack from a movie or ambient. I know a lot of writers use music to illuminate the mood or atmosphere of a scene, I know I do. Listening to music as I write helps me imagine a scene more clearly in my head. It’s strange to think of fiction in “scenes,” like you would a movie but I think it’s easier that way.
1. None Can Die – Tristan and Isolde Soundtrack
2. Little Women Soundtrack
3. Tall Ships – Bill Leslie
What are you working on now? Is it a “Vampire Queen” novel?
I have started Book 3. I am working on other books as well but they are very top secret.
When is “Stolen Night” finally coming out?
July 5th in the UK! Soon thereafter in the US.
Which authors inspire you now?
AM Jenkins, Franny Billingsley, Coe Booth, An Na, and many many others. I’m inspired by beautiful language and hot fictional boyfriends.
Which YA books would recommend?
Liked this interview? Check out my interview with Rachel Caine (author of the Morganville Vampires series) here and my interview with Beth Fantaskey (author of Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side) here.