Today, debut author Christina Struyk-Bonn joins me to talk about her process and WHISPER, her upcoming novel! Enjoy.
1. When did you start writing?
Ergo Sned the Talking Tie was my first book. I was, in fact, both writer and illustrator of that illustrious book and it still occupies a special place in my attic for all bizarre and embarrassing memorabilia. The book was about Ergo who finds himself painfully wrapped around my father’s neck and can’t find a way to escape. To this day, the book is unagented – hard to believe.
2. Are you a pantser or a planner?
I am aware that I probably should plan my books. I should develop a detailed outline that moves scene by scene, chapter by chapter, so when I begin to write, I don’t stray from the main story question and move in a direction that leaves my characters stranded. Even though I am aware that I should do this and have tried on multiple occasions, it doesn’t work for me. I am a pantser. I may start out with a basic plot outline, but usually by the fourth or fifth point on my outline, I am already straying from my delineated path. What often occurs when I do fly by the seat of my pants is I forget to wrap up a storyline, I move in a direction that might not be consistent with my character, and I have to chuck bucket-loads of pages.
3. Can you give us an idea of your writing process?
My writing process consists of squeezing a few words onto the page between kids’ soccer games, work, and cleaning out the litter box. When I do have some time to write, I work in a linear fashion, beginning at the start of my story, and working toward the end. Once I reach the end, I realize what a mess I made of my first draft, and it takes me a good year to clean it up and make it presentable. I guess my writing process consists of rewriting, rewriting, and rewriting again.
4. Which authors have influenced your work?
For all things poetic and lyrical, I look to Alice Hoffman. I love the imagery in her writing and after reading one of her books, I strive to write like her, but fail miserably. For realism, humor and straight-shooting, I admire Sherman Alexie and his frank, honest approach to writing. Finally, The Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald is an all-time favorite and if I ever have the chance to quote “wild wag of an oculist” in any of my pieces, I will do so. (Hey! I just did!)
5. What are you plans/future projects/new releases that we should be aware of?
Cast out of a society that kills or abandons anyone with a physical or mental disability and then forced to become her brutal father’s house slave, Whisper longs for her forest home but feels sure that she will never again be safe or loved. Nevertheless, she forms uneasy alliances – and even friendships – with the vulnerable residents of Purgatory Palace, where other “rejects” gather in the city, and discovers that home and love are closer than she thought.
6. Any tips for new writers?
The very talented writers are not necessarily the ones who get published – the very persistent ones are.
One of my workshop instructors told me this once and I’ve really taken it to heart. There may be fabulous, Shakespearean writers out there, but if they don’t sit down to write, their words mean little. Keep writing. Be persistent. You will get there.
7. Any tips for old writers?
Thank you, thank you, thank you. I am a reader, a writer, a lover of language, and you writers who keep churning out new ideas, developing enlightening thoughts on old ideas, and coming up with a different take on a traditional concept, you are the ones who keep my love of reading alive. Where would we be in this world without the power and beauty of language? Please keep doing what you’re doing and stretch the minds of current and future readers.