J.K. Rowling, for one. I love the way every one of her novels ends--I always feel proud of the characters for their growth, and for the most part they end on a happy, or at least a hopeful, note. I'm also a big fan of Orson Scott Card, specifically his book Ender's Game, which I first encountered in middle school, and have since read so many times my original copy's binding broke off.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Imagining the future; when I wake up, I try to always have a goal in mind and I set steps for myself to accomplish it. For example, when I was working on my first novel (HTBAPG) I would wake up every day planning to write another chapter, and thinking about how the story would go, what twists I might've come up with and so on.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I like to learn new skills; I've dabbled in parkour, portrait drawing, lockpicking, playing piano, and juggling, among other pursuits. The way I see it, the more experience I have with all aspects of life, the more I can bring that into my writing, and with more experiences I can write well about a wider range of topics.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I'm a member of several Facebook and Goodreads groups, and through those I find ebooks that interest me.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
The first story I wrote--as far as I can remember--was back in third grade. It was about a bunny named Felix, and he went back in time through the use of a time machine powered by magic crystals. The crystals broke on the way, and Felix was forced to find a cro-magnon (believe it or not, I actually attempted to use that word in the story--I guess younger Mary was a sesquipedalion too) who could help him find more. As might be predicted in a story written by someone that young, they found the crystals almost immediately, Felix took his new friend back to the present, and they all celebrated.
What is your writing process?
I spend a lot of time thinking about what would happen given my characters and the situations they're in, and then once I feel I have it, I write. Sometimes that can take hours, sometimes minutes--there have been a few twists in my writing that were the result of weeks of thought.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Does The Hungry Hungry Caterpillar count? If so, I'll be honest; not much impact. For full-length novels, the first one I remember hearing (my mother read it to my brother and I) was C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia, which I thought a lot more of then than I do now.
How do you approach cover design?
I come up with a pretty clear idea of what I want my cover to look like, and then I hand it off to someone else--no joke. Sometimes I'll create a mock up of what I want my cover to look like, to give the person working on it a clear idea of what I want. If the cover requires a picture (like How To Be A Perfect Girl) I will choose that myself, because I have very specific ideas of how certain characters look.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Ender's Game, because the characters are so complex and relatable.
How To Win Friends And Influence People by Dale Carnegie; this book is such a good read, not specifically for authors, but for everyone.
The Hunger Games. What can I say, I'm a fan of this--partly because it is so well-written and partly because it is very tasteful. Of course, tasteful might not be the way most readers would describe gratuitous violence, but I'm talking about Katniss and Peeta's relationship--Miss Collins doesn't speed it along to get to the R-rated stuff, like many authors I've read.
Fahrenheit 451; what author wouldn't like a story that preaches how horrible the world would be without book?
Gossip Girl: The Carlyles. My guilty pleasure; I have read the other GG novels, and didn't enjoy them for several reasons, but just like Suzeanne Collins, the ghost writer who penned these had an excellent sense of how--and how quickly--to develop characters' relationships.
What do you read for pleasure?
Anything and everything. I tend to binge read--when I'm not currently working on anything, it's one of my favorite pastimes--and I spread my reading out across genres to get a wider range of what works are out there. I also find this helps me in my own work, when I can draw from an action novel to write a more explosive scene, for example.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
My Kindle Paperwhite. I got it about nine months ago and it has easily become my ereader of choice.
Describe your desk
My desk is cluttered--so much so that I no longer use it on a daily basis. I put mail, graded work, and everything else on it. I could hardly even catalog everything on there without taking a peek at it, but I'll try. There's a red journal that I used for a Communications assignment, a huge binder carrying one of the books I'm supposed to read, a three-ring binder filled with notebook paper, where I was going to start keeping track of how productive I am, a few pens--and that's all I can think of.
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