For one, the subject of this post is pretty obvious, isn't it? I promise y'all a Q&A--y'all supplied the questions, and now I'm supplying the answers!
But before we begin, I would like to recommend y'all check out this lovely post on Teen Writers' Nook. There's a little special something (hint: a magazine including an interview with yours truly) at the very bottom! But don't skim--Issabelle has some fabulous content!
Also, I had the honor of being interviewed by E.B. Roshan on her blog! I had a ton of fun answering her questions--you can read my answers here!
Now, without further ado, the questions!
How long does it take you on average to complete first drafts of your novels?
I love this question. Why? Because I have no answer for it! *chuckles* I may have mentioned before that I don't actually draft like normal writers do (keyword: normal), which I will probably elaborate on in a post dedicated to that topic...but I'll give you the best answer I can!
Held Captive and Prisoner at Heart, which were 74k and 95k, respectively, took me six months to write from Chapter 1 to the epilogue. Editing and all took about three months (I did a lot of fiddle-farting around in that time as well).
But Bound and Determined? #longestprojectever I've been fiddling with it since December 2019, but I didn't start seriously writing it until March 2020, so I've been working on it for over a year and I'm, uh, still not done. I am at nearly 150k, though, so that's gotta count for something!
What do you do when you can't find the motivation to write?
To be honest, I can't recall a time when I wasn't motivated to write. Now, I've had writer's block and a lack of motivation for certain stories, but I've always been motivated to write something.
So what do I do when I'm not very excited about writing in that all-important WIP (work-in-progress) of mine? #keatonprobs Sometimes, I'll shift to another project, which I do more often when I'm in between books than when I'm in the middle of one. Hence the 27k I've written in Tell Me No Lies, my next next book.
Other times I'll try to motivate myself by getting excited about the story again. I'll do that by reading over what I've already written, daydreaming about my wonderful characters (#keatonisthebomb), or scrolling through Pinterest and Spotify for inspiration.
What's your favorite genre to write in and are there any genres that you want to try to write?
This is a no-brainer.
That being said, I'm good with varying levels of romance. Bound and Determined? FULL OF IT! Like, PG-13, off-the-charts, through the roof levels of romance.
But Tell Me No Lies? I honestly don't think I can label that one a romance, even though it is, in theory, but not technically. Actually, TMNL has no genre or labels, so it kind of just exists. I call it a historical drama.
I have other stories (#speareandfarrah) that have stronger themes than romance, making it more of a subplot, I guess, or are more intricately entwined with other things--kind of like my Daughters of the Seven Seas stories that are both romances and action/adventure dramas about some old girl pirate. See what I mean?
Moving on...I write pretty much everything (as long as it has some romance), from poetry to mysteries to contemporary to nonfiction, but not all of that will see the light of day. Like the poetry. I think the genre I'm most excited about trying is mystery. I have a series planned (see above hashtag), and Tell Me No Lies will have some mystery/suspense vibes.
Do you like to challenge yourself in writing or prefer to stick with what you're familiar with?
Hmm...when it comes to genres, I'm all over the place. But in terms of style, themes, and my writing process, I'm good in my comfort zone. I guess I'm a pleasant mix of adventurous and shy. I'm all for a different kind of character or story, but I never get too outrageous. I never stick with what I know, but I prefer to stick with what I know--you know? (Of course you don't. That made no sense whatsoever.)
What I mean is that I tend to write what I read. So, no, I don't "write what I know" like everyone advises you to--I'm a fifteen-year-old girl who's never even been liked by a guy, let alone in a relationship or kissed, and yet I write romance. I also write about pirates, but that's not that big of a deal.
But I do get to know things--like time periods, writing styles, story aesthetics, plot tropes--before I try my hand at them.
Does that answer your question? Probably not, haha. I guess both would be my answer!
What's your wildest and craziest dream for your writing (you can say being a NYT bestseller, we won't judge XD)?
Have at least one of my books turned into a movie or TV series.
Y'all thought NYT bestseller was outrageous, didn't you?
That would definitely be my craziest dream, but just think about it. A TV series all about Rina and Elliot and Keaton and Julius. Or a movie series based on a collection of Grace A. Johnson mysteries. Or...
Okay, we get the point.
But one of my not-so-wild aspirations would be to reach people. Not in a physical sense--getting my books into the hands of readers all around the globe--but in a spiritual sense. I want my writing to be used by God to touch people's hearts and draw them to Him.
Who knows what will happen?
How much time does research take up for you? And is it usually difficult to incorporate that research into your writing?
Ooh! Very good question! So, research varies. For the Daughters of the Seven Seas, most of my research is (1) watch Pirates of the Caribbean, (2) read MaryLu Tyndall, and (3) Google what I need to know as I need to know it. I have several websites/blogs full of pertinent information concerning nautical terms, pirate speak, and ship anatomy--and Wikipedia helps with history, the height of King Charles II, and what the Cathedral of Our Lady of Assumption in Santiago de Cuba looks like.
Since I research on a need-to-know basis, it's very easy to incorporate the research, especially in casual mentions.
For example, Rina mentions that she's taller than King Charles II by a few inches and that his successor, King James VII has nice eyes (which is a play on words, since he was a known ogler), and that her uncle used to be friends with Henry Morgan before he was the governor of Jamaica.
But with a story like Tell Me No Lies, most of my research is gathered from books and movies. For example, Gone with the Wind was actually the inspiration for the story, and Roseanna M. White's Culper Ring series and the second National Treasure introduced me to the KGC, which I spotlight in the story. I read a lot about the Civil War in fiction, so I've gleaned from that historical facts, what people ate and wore, and the mindset of the time.
Plus, Agatha Christie novels and other great mysteries have helped me with my mystery-writing skills. Speaking of, I have asked my dad a lot of logic and science questions just to make sure that certain murders could actually occur, if you know what I mean. I will probably be turning to some of my friends when it comes time for crime forensics...
However, if I need to know when vanilla extract was invented, I turn to Google! (I seriously looked that up once.)
What is your favorite part about the writing that you do?
Wow. That is one tough question! Oy, let me think...
I love it all, really. Making worlds out of words. Falling in love with characters. Reading positive reviews and knowing that my story made an impact on someone else's life. Letting God write the story as only He can.
I don't think I could choose just one part, because all of them work in tandem, you know? The arrangement of words makes the story I get so excited about. The story produces characters who are so real and broken and in need of some love. The characters pull the heartstrings of readers. Readers feel the power of God and hear His whisper in their hearts as they read.
And I get to watch it all unfold, thanking God for the opportunity to have a hand in something so powerful as a story.
How has your writing changed since you first started, and where do you see the most growth?
Mm, that's a good one. My writing has changed in every way--what I write, how I write, my voice, the quality of my writing, my grammar and punctuation, my word choice, my characters, the addition of indented paragraphs.
There is a lot of surface growth--like the quality of my writing and the development of my style--but I think I've changed the most deep down. My stories are deeper, my characters more real. And with everything new story idea, I have something or someone I want to touch or change. It's no longer just for the fun of it or entertainment, although that's still there. Now I want to make an impact. I want to share God, His love, His grace, and His power. I want to show people new things and ideas and ways of perceiving the world. (I guess that translates into becoming a theologian or philosopher, but, trust me, I'm a long way from that!)
So, yeah. I guess the most growth hasn't occurred in my writing, but in my heart.
What goes through your mind when you sit down to start a new idea or project - what is it that gets you most excited?
AH! There is SO much all that once!!! And it differs between ideas. Each idea has their own aesthetic, their own feeling, their own--well, their own story! Each story tells something different; they all sound different, look different, feel different, smell different (because, yes, stories smell. Don't tell me you've never read a book that stinks).
So I get excited about different things.
For example, with Bound and Determined, I'm most excited about (1) the spiritual content, which is through-the-roof this time; (2) the action, which is also through-the-roof; and (3) the romance!!!!!! The romance in this one is my strongest and sweetest and most passionate one yet!
But in Tell Me No Lies, I'm most excited about the historical aspects, the mystery, and RHYS STERLING! He is just the most amazing character--which is prolly because he's based off of Rhett Butler!
Or, in my fairytale Regency reimaginings, I'm most excited about the themes of identity! (More on that in another post!)
Or, in my other fairytale reimaginings (which are fantasy, this time), I'm most excited about how I'll be weaving fairytales, fantasy, and Old Testament stories together! (I'll definitely have to share about that too!)
So, to sum my answer up--it depends. Sometimes I'm most excited about the plot; other times it's the characters. But I'm almost always thinking about how I can share God through my stories and how I can impact my readers!
These were some AMAZING questions! Thank y'all so much for asking them! I loved answering them and I hope y'all enjoyed learning a little more about me and my writing! If you have a question you'd like to ask, feel free to enter it below! I'd love to do another Q&A!