Author of the Week | Week 6
This week’s book was slightly different, not only was it a non-fiction book, it is an account of lectures imparted by an expert in the field. Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens is the compilation of his sessions at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
The next theme is something that is closely related to everyone’s hearts.
Our Author for this week is Ann, she has cherished her bond with her literary friends from the time she was a toddler. From reading her first book to writing 3 books, her journey is inspiring. She’s active on Wattpad as ‘annwrites’.
So, what was the first book you ever read? How old were you then?
The first book I read by myself was a story from the Ladybird’s Classic collection from the library my mom once co-owned with her friend. I was 3 years old then. The first real novel without any pictures that I read was Nancy Drew in the second grade when I was going through a mystery novel phase.
How many Books/Short Stories/Poems have you written? Which is your favorite? Are there any that ended up getting shelved for the time being?
I’ve written 2 books up until now (3 if you count a 40K word Maze Runner fanfiction from when I was 13). All of my works are special to me in different ways as I wrote them at different times in my life; all the thoughts running through my head in that period were preserved in pages.
My most recently written works are usually my favorite since they encapsulate my interests and findings which change regularly. Currently, my favorite is Paris in the Rain, a WIP of mine that stems from my love of unique and messy characters. There are a lot of book ideas that I have shelved for time being due to my education, but I plan on writing them one day!
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I love interacting with my readers, and writing on an online platform does make it easier. I’m pretty active on social media, too, so I’m always hearing from them. I appreciate all of them so much and the constructive criticism they give me has helped me tremendously over the years. I also value their input a lot because I’ve been trying to make my characters more diverse in my recent works and interacting with my readers to make sure that their culture/community is being represented appropriately. Representation is really important to me.
When did you write your first Book/Short Story/Poem and how old were you?
I’ve been writing ever since I was a little girl and I don’t remember when I wrote my first story or what it was about but I do remember writing a lot of short stories for my sister when she was a toddler.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Writing and creating have been a part of my life for a very long time and but I hadn’t until recently seriously considered making a living out of it. I had heard a lot about the struggles of authors (some of who are my friends) that tried to get their books published. They described it to me as a tedious and draining process but it came to me that I really wouldn’t mind working on someone else’s book, and that’s why I hope to start with a job as an editor in the future if my works don't make it.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
This is such an interesting question, to be honest, and it’s hard to answer because I have many subconscious habits that I have no clue about until a friend brings it up in a casual conversation. I’m not sure if it’s much of a quirk as it is convenient for me but I am physically incapable of writing on my laptop with it placed on a table. Literally. I cannot write when I’m sitting at the table. I write better when I have the laptop in my lap and am seated in a comfy chair. I hadn’t noticed this pattern until my family pointed out my bad posture while writing, so, definitely going to try and avoid that in the future.
Where do you get your information or ideas for your Books/Short Stories/Poems?
Ideas for my books come mostly from single lines or a title. There are so many instances where book ideas have come to me from a random thought or a ‘what if?’. I also listen to a lot of music with beautiful concepts (like Taylor Swift’s discography) and usually spin a line around in my head and add to it until I’ve devised an idea for a scene or a sub-plot. I’ve never been one for planning and inspiration hits me at the most unusual times.
As for information, there’s plenty of it on the internet to go around and I do a ton of research for every scene to make it as accurate as possible.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your Books/Short Stories/Poems?
I often wondered why I loved writing as much as I did. Soon, I concluded that it was because I loved creating a reality where I was in control and free, only if slightly, from reality. I found comfort in the fact that I would always know the intentions of the characters. It made me realize that I was someone who was quite a bit cynical and doubted people’s intentions when they tried to help me.
My writing journey has made me discover so much about myself and that’s cool. Problem recognition/solving was easier for me when I projected my doubts and fears onto my characters and solve them from the pov of someone who wasn’t directly affected by the situation. It also helped make my characters more realistic.
What does your process of writing look like? What is the hardest part?
My writing goes through a lot of editing before it’s read and it has to do with me being somewhat of a perfectionist. The approach I use is writing the dialogues first, and then filling in the spaces where the description comes in. It helps me get a general feel of what the setting of the scene should be like based on the tone of the conversation.
The hardest part is maintaining the balance between imagery, description of the setting, thoughts of the character, and the actions that accompany their dialogue. A scene with a lot of description and no dialogue bores the reader and the opposite makes them feel lost in terms of their location and body language which most of the time is key in conveying how the character is feeling without actually spelling it out.
What do your family and friends feel about your work?
My friends and family have been supportive. They’re always there to listen to my rants about new ideas and encouraging trying out new things.
What is your advice for aspiring writers?
Keep writing. I know it seems like really common advice but it’s probably the best you can do to work towards your goal. Even if you’re not very good at it when you start, don’t give up. Your first piece of work may not be the best but it’s still a start.
Reading books helps a lot with vocabulary and imagery, too. Some of my first drafts are appalling but that’s fine because I’ve learned over time and I’m better at now. Not the best, but I’m better, and checking your improvement comparatively rather than superlatively will boost your confidence a lot.
Who is your inspiration in the field of writing?
There are so many artists and authors that inspire me to write. I grew up reading Cassandra Clare and Rick Riordan and my most recent obsession involves Sarah J. Maas’ dystopian fantasies. All these authors inspired me when it came to different things— Clare helped me analyze imagery and description and Riordan and Maas inspired me when it came to humor and plotlines respectively.
Taylor Swift is also a big one based on how she can effortlessly paint a picture in your head with her beautiful story-telling.
Has your writing style changed since you first started writing? If yes, in what ways has it changed?
YES. Definitely. My writing style is always evolving, more so in the past year. Finding your style of writing takes time and there’s a lot of changes it goes through before you reach the final stage. In the beginning, my writing was, to be honest, bad.
The plot had holes and the characters were bland. I worked on each mistake individually until it was relatively better. I learned that focusing on one aspect at a time instead of trying to change everything made things much easier.
What attracted you to the genre(s) you write in?
I mostly write YA and I think it’s because through teen characters I could write about all the struggles I faced growing and how they impacted me without really telling it as my story and later being questioned about it by the people around me. After all, I’ve always hated explanations. It opened up a lot of ways in which I could express my feelings without others knowing they were mine you know? YA also has a very coming-of-age feel to it, and I’ve always loved that.
Would you consider yourself a planner or a pantser? Or both? Is your current system working for you?
I was most definitely a pantser when I started and I think that’s a good thing because I wrote on my terms and whenever I had inspiration which made writing seem fun. Recently, I have become more of a planner and I plan out the distribution of plot in all my chapters a lot. It has made the process easier and more organized now that I have to focus on my education.
What do you love the most about your writing process?
This might be a little cliché but I love getting lost in my fictional world when I write. There’s so much possibility with characters and plot that sometimes it overwhelms me. In a good way, though.
Does music help or halt your writing process?
A lot of my writing inspiration comes from music and I use it to set the mood sometimes but I often find it hard to concentrate with music on in the background because I will inevitably sing along and that distracts me when I’m writing. Most of the time, my writing takes place in a quiet room.
Are your characters often inspired by real people?
Yes and no. A few of my characters are just people I wish I were surrounded with whereas some have qualities of the people I know. Through the internet, I’ve gotten to know many different kinds of people whom I have gotten close to that have such a unique way of thinking and the most intriguing flaws. They’re my cheerleaders and so many of the pure qualities my characters have are from these wonderful people. Whereas most of the characters are inspired by real-life people, some are purely a product of my imagination.
Are there any specific ways that help you out of your reader’s/writer’s block?
Writer’s block is a horrid thing. Whenever I feel like I’ve hit a block, I write my chapters out as scripts instead and go back later to add the details. Reader’s block always went away for me when I read a fast-paced book.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
I would tell her to be easier on herself. There were times in the past where I obsessed over a piece of writing to make it as perfect as possible and that was not necessary. I would re-read and re-write to the point where I started disliking my writing and thinking I wasn’t cut out to be a writer. No one is good at something as soon as they start, and I think that’s something my younger writing self could have benefitted from hearing.
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