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I hope you are ready to feel the love this summer!  I’m joined by another terrific YA Valentine today; Bethany Hagen is here to talk about her first novel, her recent work, and everything in between.

IMG_03651. When did you start writing?

I can’t remember when I decided that I was going to be a writer or that I liked writing—it seems like I’ve always been that way!  The first story I clearly remember writing was a story for my dad when I was eight or nine, and it involved us shrinking down to the size of Legos and meeting the Lego people. I wrote short stories until high school, when I wrote my first novel (it was about King Arthur, if you’re curious.)
2. Are you a pantser or a planner?
I’m basically a pantser.  I start off with a premise and a couple characters and start winging it.  At some point, I’ll sketch a really basic outline, and then promptly deviate from it.  There’s something kind of magical about discovering the story along with your characters.
3. Can you give us an idea of your writing process?
I usually come up with ideas for novels while I’m working on other things, and I force those ideas to gestate quietly for a few months, so by the time they get their own Scrivener doc, they are usually fairly fleshed out.  I give myself a handful of chapters to play and explore. Then different scenes and conflicts pop up in my mind and I start loosely steering towards those, giving myself room to take detours along the way.  Then I usually have to rewrite a lot of the book in a massively painful and inevitably beer-soaked struggle.  I don’t recommend this method 🙂
4. Which authors have influenced your work?
Too many to name!  I love Austen’s keen eye for character, I love Bronte for atmosphere, I love Mitchell for her scope.  When I grow up, I want to write like Laini Taylor or Elizabeth Wein.  *sigh*
5. What are you plans/future projects/new releases that we should be aware of?
I’m currently working on Book Two of the Landry Park trilogy, but I’ve been cheating on that with a YA contemporary about high school journalism camp.  (Yes, that’s a real kind of camp, and I went three times when I was in high school!)
6. Any tips for new writers?
Keep writing.  I share that Ira Glass quote about making art (http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/309485-nobody-tells-this-to-people-who-are-beginners-i-wish) with every new artist I meet, because it’s so important.  Keep writing, even after you get rejected, even when you’re convinced you suck, because you will get better, but only if you keep working at it.
7. Any tips for old writers?
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut and forget the magic of writing.  I’ve only had a contract for a year and a few months, and I already feel the rut coming on.  So I find projects I love to work on, even if I know they’ll never sell, to remind me why I started writing in the first place.
Here’s my website: www.bethanyhagen.com
and Twitter: @Bethany_Hagen