Interview with Francina Simone

Describe your desk
Oh. You don't want to know what my desk looks like...Okay.

In front of me is my mini desk fan (because I live in Japan and work at a school, and we don't believe in AC unless the temperature is near Death.) I've got a ton of books on both sides ( A few on teaching to make me look like I'm prepared for my job—you can never be prepared enough) Most of the books are grammar and writing books I've collected over the years, some children's books because picture books are inspiring (and incase my son comes to work with me). A picture of my son. A mannequin (the kind you use to as a model to draw) a cup of pens and pencils (that I never use. I only have one favorite 4-in-one pen). My Trusty laptop. I bought this laptop (a macbook) just to use the program scrivener because I was convinced I couldn't write a book without it...well at least I held up my end of the bargain—I did, after all, write a book using it! And the rest of my desk is littered with papers. Papers I should throw away, won't throw away, can't throw away, and don't even know why they are still on my desk but will eventually throw away.
What do you read for pleasure?
I read books that move me. That can be anything as long as the story grips me by the heart and takes me a journey I'll never forget. The Harry Potter series are a go to ever since I was eleven. These days I love Jaclyn Moriarty and Stephanie Perkins. But to be honest, reading is never a pleasure for me as a writer. Writing is my trade, so reading is a resource, I'll never be able to read just to relax—however, a great story will both relax me and teach me. I've learned a lot about story reading these authors, and even a lot about myself.
What do you read for pleasure?
I read books that move me. That can be anything as long as the story grips me by the heart and takes me a journey I'll never forget. The Harry Potter series are a go to ever since I was eleven. These days I love Jaclyn Moriarty and Stephanie Perkins. But to be honest, reading is never a pleasure for me as a writer. Writing is my trade, so reading is a resource, I'll never be able to read just to relax—however, a great story will both relax me and teach me. I've learned a lot about story reading these authors, and even a lot about myself.
When did you first start writing?
Okay, lots of people talk about when they were in the first grade and wrote their first book about bunnies, but to be honest, it wasn't like that with me. I read a lot and I liked to make up stories, but I never thought I was good enough to write. I thought you have to be born a writer, or really good at spelling (which I still am not). So, I like to say, I first started writing (for myself) when I was sixteen and in an American History AP (advanced placement class—that I got a C in but should have failed). I was supposed to write an essay on the Gettysburg Address, but I hadn't read it—or at least I did, but I didn't understand it and I was far more concerned about the boy that I'd had a crush on for two years sitting next to me. Anyway, I closed my eyes and knew I had to write something to keep my teacher for noticing my poor academic attitude, so I wrote the first lines of a book I've been working on ever since. I went home that night and wrote non stop over the weekend until I was seven chapters into the book. (Seven horrid chapters—that is.) It's a bigger story than I've ever imagined and that was the day I knew I wanted to write.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I always wanted to be a traditional author. I mean, I still do—I love organizing my books on my book shelf by publisher for crying out loud! But I write paranormal romance. Traditional publishers only care about what will flash when it hits the pan. Paranormal romance already flashed. It doesn't matter that us readers love and will consume every new book on the market, they need books that set new trends and they need to market around these trends to gain "new" followers. That's how they work. Always looking for the "next big thing". My opinion on that construct isn't really important and I can't control it, but recognizing that I can't get into the market without showing them that my work is something people want to read, is something I can control. So I wanted to put myself out there and get rid of the (glamours) middle man. I want to just share my work and see if people connect with it. I mean, being a traditional publisher is more like a lifestyle than a necessity. Right now I'm all about getting my work out there and (hopefully) having people talk about it. The lifestyle of the traditionally published can (if it does at all) come later.
What is your writing process?
My writing process goes something like this:

Inspiration. I listen to music and get the mood of the story and characters. What is being said? Who is trying to say it?

Obsessive Writing. I try to get it all out. It looks ugly on paper but I just try to write it all down no matter what I will end up cutting or how many grammatical errors I make.

Obsessive Thinking. After it's all written (or as much as I could write) I think about the story non-stop. I try to stay true to the characters and never write anything they wouldn't say or do. I try to figure them out and how they relate to the story. I find, the more I know about my characters, the easier the plot is to write.

Obsessive Revision. This is my favorite part. This is when I get to really be a writer. When I know the story and the characters and I'm just putting the pieces together and removing the monkey wrenches that keep clogging up the system. I listen to a lot of music that I feel like connects with my characters.

Copy Editing. Last I read my book one chapter at a time starting at the last sentence. I read it backwards to try and catch any grammatical and structural issues with sentences. This is the hardest part because it's hard work on the brain to read something in an illogical sequence.
What's the story behind your latest book?
The story? Well you'll have to read to figure that out!! Ha. Okay, well if you mean what is the inspiration I can answer that better. To be candid, first it was inspired by the genre. I'd been buying and reading a lot of paranormal, and I wasn't getting the story I wanted to read. I mean, I'd read a few books that gave me the taste I'd been craving, but that's like sticking your hand in a bowl of peanuts hoping to pull out one of the ten or so M&Ms in there.

Anyway, that's a fine reason to start a book, but you can't begin a story or finish it on that alone so I dug deeper and realized this book was about growth. I was trying to grow as a writer (this was my first serious project) and My characters were trying to grow past being seen as kids and more as young adults. Some characters lack growth and some had to grow up too soon. either way, they had to find themselves, and I realized that was a journey we all have in life. Finding ourselves. It's a never ending journey and the vastness of what it means to "find yourself" is what inspired me to revised this book until I thought I'd captured it.
What do your fans mean to you?
Fans?! I'm in-love with the person who says, "eh-I liked it" I think I'd drop dead from a heart filled with too much love and happiness if people considered themselves a fan of my work. To me, that means, for one second at least, someone I've never met and I have connected and shared an experience in which will stay with them for a long time, if not forever. I'm not skilled enough to put into words what fans mean to me.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The greatest joy for me is knowing that for just a moment, I've connected with characters, and they will hopefully connect with a reader and for that moment, we all are in the same world at the same time engulfed by the magic that is reading.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Well, I have a wonderful husband and son. Every morning I awake up surrounded by their love and even when we have bad days, slow days, or days full of adventure, I am always looking forward to opening my eyes and seeing their faces.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I spend my time with my family. We live on the largest island (on an island. Ha.) and so life is really relaxed and easy going. We spend most of our time (when we are not working) finding places to go and relax with each other. In the summers that means the beach, Spring and Fall means the park, and Winter means the mall. I write about a lot of drama, so I find that my life works best when it is drama free and very relaxed and easy going.
Published 2014-09-11.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.