Today, I’m joined by one of my Bloomsbury Spark pub sisters, Judith Graves. Judith is a writer and blogger extraordinaire (she organized the Crossroads tour: check it out!)
I hope you enjoy getting to know a little bit about this busy, talented lady.
1. When did you start writing?
My parents gave me a diary when I was in elementary school and I soon filled the pages. But not with “here’s what I did today” entries. Mine were a crazy blend of quotes from songs / books / things my friends said, doodles, weird ideas that wouldn’t leave me alone, bits of folklore, some poetry and super short stories – whatever struck me as worth jotting down. I quickly outgrew the small lock and key diary and progressed to coil notebooks. As I learned to play piano and guitar, then joined a few school bands, my poetry became song lyrics and eventually my short stories – novels. I haven’t stopped writing since. I admit to still having a coil notebook obsession. I start a new one for each project.
2. Are you a pantser or a planner?
I used to be a pantser, but am now a planner all the way. Every writer has his or her own approach to completing a project. Maybe they outline, or they do for one project, but not for another. There’s no correct way to do get the first draft DONE. The Plotter Police won’t show up at your door. But my pantser ways soon proved ineffective when I started taking my writing seriously, began getting contracts, working under deadlines, and needing substantial word counts each day. I started using screenwriting plotting resources and found myself doing way less drafts and revisions. I bought a white board. I bought Scrivener….and eventually I became a screenwriter as well as novelist. Because, format aside, it’s all just good storytelling. Pantsing left me with unfinished stories. Planning and plotting gets me to the end every time.
3. Can you give us an idea of your writing process?
Ideas come at me all the time, so once I choose the one I’m most keen to explore further, I usually start with research – checking out the details on a spooky location, time period, or historical event. From there a character emerges, as well as several big picture problems they could encounter. I’ll fill out character cards for whoever I cast as the main characters – their physical description, quirks, interests, fears, goals, how they provide conflict for the other characters. At this point I’ll start a new beat sheet (see Blake Snyder’s website for a sample – http://www.blakesnyder.com/tools/ Mr. Snyder authored, Save the Cat! The Last Book On Screenwriting That You’ll Ever Need) and work it until I have the major points of action.
I’ll rework the beat sheet many times before I think the characters and concepts are solid. After that, I start writing. Even with the story plotted out, characters still take me down tangents and reveal secrets or layers to their personalities – but I’m able to weave those tidbits into the overall story and character arcs I’ve developed.
4. Which authors have influenced your work?
So many! I read a ton and am always deconstructing / evaluating even when I’m reading for pleasure. Each book, article, or blog post offers new insights into the craft of writing. Some authors I return to again and again: Ray Bradbury, Neil Gaiman, L.M. Montgomery, Stephen King, Rachel Vincent, Jim Butcher, Christopher Moore, Mary Shelley, Douglas Adams…it’s really an ever changing list of favourites.
5. What are you plans/future projects/new releases that we should be aware of?
I have a few things in the works as I write under two pen names. Under Judith Tewes, I’m thrilled to announce I have an edgy young adult contemporary launching with Bloomsbury Spark in 2014. No official title as yet, but the book centers around a girl, a list of potential devirginizers, and a dysfunctional family life that does not go as scripted. Sorta Scott Pilgrim meets Little Miss Sunshine or Juno-esque. It’s pretty damn exciting to be a part of this new YA line from Bloomsbury. Under Judith Graves, I have an action-packed zombie tale coming out this October, KILLER’S INSTINCT, which I’ve co-written with Dawn Dalton.
A short blurb:
Where there is NO life – there’s Hope…
Hope has always been a bit of a freak. But when her mother crawls from her grave and her undead corpse goes MIA, Hope’s last thread of normal snaps with a vengeance.
Enrolling in a militia-style school for monster slayers seems the only course of action. And the best bet at tracking her mother down.
6. Any tips for new writers?
Read – a lot. Write – even more.
7. Any tips for old writers?
Read. Write. Play. Repeat.