Monika Schröder – INTERVIEW

Along with inviting me to read her middle grade book, Be Light Like a Bird, Monika Schröder graciously agreed to answer some questions as an interview for me! Thank you for being willing to do that!

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Question #1: Do you set aside time to write every day or do you write more sporadically? When you write, do you aim to complete a certain number of words or pages? How does music/other noise affect your concentration?

Ms. Schröder’s Answer: I set aside about three to four hours a day to spend with my work in my studio. I am not always putting words on paper, but I stay “in the zone.” I need absolute silence.

 

Question #2: When you’re writing, do your characters seem to “hijack” the story or are you firmly in control of where the story is going? Similarly, do you outline your books or let the plot take you where it wants to go?

Ms. Schröder’s Answer: I usually have an idea of the broad plot line and the ending. But after I got stuck with this method, I am now becoming more of a planner.

 

Question #3: In general, how many revisions do you go through before a book is published? Do you have beta readers or is it just your editing team and their suggestions? Do you set your books aside for a period of time and then pick them up and edit them?

Ms. Schröder’s Answer: The number of revisions varies. I re-wrote my first novel, THE DOG IN THE WOOD, 37 times. Now I don’t need that many revisions any more. But my new book, BE LIGHT LIKE A BIRD, also went through several revisions.

Yes, time is the best revision helper. It is always good to set a manuscript aside and then go back to it with fresh eyes. My husband, a former English teacher, is always my first reader. I appreciate his comments and once all his suggestions are incorporated I send my manuscript to my agent, who then gives his input.

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Question #4: Your latest book, Be Light Like a Bird, is set in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Did you travel to the Upper Peninsula to do research for the book? If not, how did you make sure you got all the details of what life is like there correct?

Ms. Schröder’s Answer: My husband is from Michigan and we used to spend part of our summers at his family’s cabin near Sault Ste. Marie. In fact, my husband and I got married up there. We inherited the cabin and still own it. So I was familiar with the setting when I wrote the book.

 

Question #5: How did you break into the publishing world? How many rejections did you go through before finding a publisher? Did you ever think about quitting? If so, what did you do to keep yourself hopeful?

Ms. Schröder’s Answer: My first novel was rejected by the first editor I sent it to and I spent several years rewriting it. Yes, it takes tenacity to get published. My second and third book were published by the legendary Frances Foster, an editor with her own imprint at Farrar Straus Giroux. When she passed away it pulled the rug from under me. She was not only my editor but also my mentor and friend. After her death I had to find an agent and BE LIGHT LIKE A BIRD was rejected several times. So, even though I already had published three novels, I experiences set-backs. Sometimes it is hard to keep up the hope. Again, my husband is a great help. He coaches me through times of self-doubt and he is a great fan of my work.

(Blogger’s Note: I, for one, am super glad that you kept trying with Be Light Like a Bird because it really is phenomenal.)

 

Question #6: Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Have you ever learned anything from a bad review and incorporated it into your future work?

Ms. Schröder’s Answer: I do read my reviews. It is painful to read bad reviews but in most cases I can find a kernel of truth in them. I might not agree with the weight a reviewer gives a certain aspect of the book, but I try to look at the issues raised with a clear eye.

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Question #7: What are some great books/authors you’ve read recently?

Ms. Schröder’s Answer: I am a big fan of Avi’s work and I also loved Louis Bayard’s first book for kids, LUCKY STRIKES.

 

Question #8: What hobbies do you have/enjoy?

Ms. Schröder’s Answer: I tend to a big flower garden and I look forward to gardening season starting again soon. I also love to bake and cook.

 

Question #9: Do you like to travel? If so, what was your favorite location to visit?

Ms. Schröder’s Answer: My husband and I worked and lived overseas for 16 years. We have travelled a lot during those years. Now that we live in the US we don’t travel as much any more. But we recently visited Jekyll Island in Georgia and found it very beautiful.

 

Question #10: What is your favorite part of the writing/editing/publishing process? What is your least favorite?

Ms. Schröder’s Answer: My least favorite part of the process is writing the first draft. It is agonizingly slow and I have to force myself to keep on writing without looking back too much before I have reached the end of one whole draft. And that draft is usually very bad and then I make it better. I love revising, but my favorite part is probably when someone offers me a contract to publish my book.

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Once again, I’d like to say a huge “THANK YOU” to Monika Schröder for agreeing to answer my questions. Be sure to check out her newest book, Be Light Like A Bird!

Author Interview – Morgan Talbot

Welcome! Today I’m featuring an interview with Morgan Talbot, author of Smugglers and Scones. I’m very grateful that she was willing to answer my questions. I hope you enjoy her answers as much as I have!

Morgan Talbot, author - White woman in her 30s or 40s, dark brown hair, wearing sunglasses halfway down her nose, a grey overshirt and a purple blouse

1) Do you set aside time to write every day or do you write more sporadically? When you write, do you aim to complete a set # of pages or words? How does music/other noise affect your concentration when you’re writing?

I used to write every day like a mad thing, but I think I’m done with that phase of my writerly evolution. Nowadays, I still have a schedule, but it’s slower. Schedules are important for me, or I’ll just wander off and get interested in something else. I usually aim for a chapter per writing session, because that fits with my writing speed, chapter length, and pain tolerance—too long at any one manual task and I’m all achy for the rest of the day. Background noise is pretty useful for me—if I’m not in a coffee shop with the babble of voices, I’ll put on my headphones and listen to some Doctor Who soundtracks. Or whatever I’m into at the moment—right now, it’s the music from Doctor Who Series 6: Madman in a Box.

2) With this book, you not only create the storyline, but the whole backstory of the house and the author that lived there. How easy/difficult was that for you to do?

It took some time, but that kind of backstory/research is right up my alley, so I enjoyed every second of it. I also write epic fantasy under another pen name, so I’ve created entire worlds from scratch. Focusing more tightly on a single house and its famous occupant has been so much fun. I’ve spun all kinds of plots and events from Moorehaven’s past that’ll come out in future books. A building that old must have plenty of thrilling secrets, and I love discovering what they are just as much as everyone else.

3) How did you break into the publishing world?

About eight years ago, I first got published a startup small press I’d heard of through a friend on a writing site, but I soon found myself back out on the street due to creative differences. It felt more like I’d ricocheted off the wall of the publishing industry—confusing and disheartening. But I found a job reviewing indie books, and eventually the owner shifted to publishing instead. I had just written my first mystery novel, First to Find, and I submitted it with bated breath. To my delight, my book passed acquisitions and was accepted for publication. I’ve been very happy at Red Adept Publishing ever since.

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Continue reading “Author Interview – Morgan Talbot”

Interview with Vina Arno

As I stated a few posts back, I want to try to do some interviews with authors that I review. I’m grateful, that Vina Arno, author of “In His Corner”, was more than willing to answer the 15 questions I sent to her!  I didn’t quite manage to stay away from all the cliché questions, but I did try to mix in a few less common questions. I sincerely appreciate Ms. Arno taking the time to answer them!

Question #1: Are your characters based off of real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?

Ms. Arno’s Answer: The hero in my book, “In His corner,” is a boxer known as the Juggernaut. He is my homage to Tom Hardy’s cage-fighter character in the movie “Warrior.” I prefer boxing to mixed martial arts and I wanted the prestige of the Olympics, so I made my hero an Olympic gold-medalist boxer. My heroine is named Siena because she was inspired by the Italian city of the same name, which I visited in 2013.

 

Question #2: As a child, what do you want to do/be when you grew up?

Ms. Arno’s Answer: I thought I wanted to be a stage actress! But I realize now that what I always wanted was to create and be immersed in a creative environment.

 

Question #3: As a new author, what is your favorite part of the writing/publishing process? What is your least favorite? 

Ms. Arno’s Answer: My favorite part is the actual writing and building a story sentence by sentence. You start with a blank screen and end up with an entire manuscript. Even rewriting, which is difficult, gives me joy because it’s part of creating the story.
My least favorite is everything outside the writing process (querying, marketing, promotions, etc.)!

 

Question #4: Can you share some stories about people you met while researching this book?

Ms. Arno’s Answer: I didn’t go out to do research for this book. For my boxing hero, I watched documentaries and read books about the sport. For my ER-doctor heroine, my experience as a public relations specialist at a hospital came in handy. I drew inspiration from my interactions with doctors and hospital workers.

 

Question #5: Did you make any marketing mistakes or is there anything you would avoid in the future? Conversely, did you make any marketing decisions that had an immediate impact on your sales?

Ms. Arno’s Answer: Every little thing helps in marketing, so even the less successful attempts are still useful.

 

Question #6: Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages each day or do you just set aside writing time and whatever comes out, comes out.

Ms. Arno’s Answer: No, I don’t have a word-count quota. However, I do write every single day, year-round. For me, what’s useful is the actual habit of writing. It’s part of my routine and it’s something I look forward to every day.

 

Question #7: Do you have a day job in addition to being a writer? If so, what do you do during the day?

Ms. Arno’s Answer: I’m a copywriter and editor for a software company by day.

 

Question #8: Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate, or longhand? Why?

Ms. Arno’s Answer: I write my novels on a computer, but I write random thoughts and notes in a notebook or any piece of paper available.

 

Question #9: How did you break into the publishing world?

Ms. Arno’s Answer: It was a serendipitous process that began with a trip to Siena, Italy. I wrote about my publishing breakthrough for Forbes. If you’re interested, you can read it here: 3 Career Reinvention Tips from a Reporter Turned Romance Writer.

 

Question #10: If you could write about anyone fiction/nonfiction who would you write about?

Ms. Arno’s Answer: General Douglas MacArthur, the iconic World War II military leader. In fact, I recently completed a historical novel about him, which my literary agent in currently shopping to editors.

 

Question #11: If you could spend one day with a character from your book, whom would it be? What would you do during that day? (PG-13 please)

Ms. Arno’s Answer: I would love to spend time with both my hero and my heroine, but if I must choose just one, then I would shadow my heroine, Siena Carr, at the hospital. She’s an intelligent, big-hearted doctor, who’s beautiful inside and out. I was surprised that some readers misunderstood her, big time.

 

Question #12: Were your parents reading enthusiasts who gave you a push to be a reader as a kid?

Ms. Arno’s Answer: Unfortunately, no. And that’s why I’m a late bloomer. I didn’t discover the joys of reading until I was in high school. I didn’t start writing until I was in graduate school.

 

Question #13: What are some great books you’ve read recently?

Ms. Arno’s Answer: I’m not a science fiction fan, but I finally read Ray Bradbury’s classic novel, “Fahrenheit 451”, recently. I was blown away by his writing. I loved it so much that I wrote about it on my blog. You can check it out, if you’re interested: Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” Transcends Science Fiction Genre.

 

Question #14: What books have influenced your life the most?

Ms. Arno’s Answer: In high school, I discovered how powerful fiction can be after reading “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger. Many years later, reading Amy Tan’s “The Joy Luck Club” inspired me to start writing fiction. Nancy Horan’s “Loving Frank” gave me courage to write my historical novel about Douglas MacArthur.

 

Question #15: What did you find most useful in learning to write? What was the least useful or most destructive?

Ms. Arno’s Answer: Writing is a very humbling process. I learned that I can always improve my writing. “Don’t be precious” – this is what I tell myself when I’m writing. I can’t think of anything truly destructive. So far, even my negative experiences (such as rejections) have brought me positive lessons.

 

Again, many thanks to Ms. Arno for taking the time to answer these questions for me and for all of us! I hope the rest of you enjoyed the questions/answers as much as I did.

Being my first interview with an author, if anyone has feedback or has ideas for questions that you think would be good, please feel free to either comment here or message me. Thanks!

Adding Something New

I’ve decided to add something new to my blog – author interviews. Primarily, these will be the authors who contact me about reading their books or those whose review crews I am apart of. We’ll see how it goes. I know this is a small blog in comparison, but hopefully I’ll have a few takers!  I’m sending out a list of questions to my first author tonight and I’m crossing my fingers that she’ll answer and return them so I can post that after I post my review about her debut novel.

Here’s hoping it works!