I hope y’all have had an awesome summer! I’m back from my MFA classes (more on that later), and I’m raring to get back to the interview. My guest today is Linda Phillips, author of the verse novel CRAZY: enjoy!
1. When did you start writing?
I started writing when the first diary-with-a-key was given to me as a present. I don’t remember when that was, but it was probably around third grade. During that early era, I think I majored in list making, like favorite words, girlfriend polls of favorite everything, nerdiest boys, disgusting foods, and on and on. The thing I remember most is that the pages were too small to accommodate my lengthy lists, and I soon graduated to the first of a gazillion spiral notebooks (some of which I still have.)
- Are you a pantser or a planner?
It took me many years to complete my debut book written in verse, and I never used anything that even approached a planner scheme until the last revision, and then it was more like high school days when I always made the mandatory outline after I had written the paper. Somewhere right before my book found an editor, I went to a plotting workshop, mostly to sit and scoff at the whole idea. But amazingly, I was blown away by how useful such a tool might become, and have since started applying a rough version of Save the Cat to everything I write.
- Can you give us an idea of your writing process?
So even though I have adopted the planner approach, I’m afraid I’m still a pantser at heart in the overall scheme of things. I would love to say I write every day, and if you include email, twitter, blogging and FB, then I qualify. I probably work best on a deadline, which I don’t happen to have at the moment, so I meander like a wandering stream. I tend to accumulate ideas during housecleaning, car driving, and gardening, but when the stars line up and the mood strikes, I can write for long and productive stretches.
- Which authors have influenced your work?
Karen Hesse’s Out of the Dust was the major influence as I wrote CRAZY. I read it multiple times before beginning my book, and I kept it by my computer and used it as a pump primer whenever I hit a dry spell during the writing. I’ve always been in love with Catcher in the Rye. I also love Laurie Halse Anderson’s work, John Green’s, and anything of Ellen Hopkins.
- What are your plans/future projects/new releases that we should be aware of?
I am currently researching and doing some preliminary writing on a YA novel dealing with Batten Disease. During my teaching years I knew two students afflicted with this rare, gruesome and devastating disease, and I “gave” it to a minor character in CRAZY. I’m in the preliminary stages of work on this project, but I would love to be able to spotlight a disease that desperately needs all the research funding it can get.
- Any tips for new writers?
I’m on an SCBWI list serve in Charlotte, and a recent thread that seems to have struck a nerve in all of us was started by someone going nuts waiting to hear back from agent queries. The waiting game. No matter where you are in the process, I can bet you are waiting as you read this. To hear from an agent, an editor, a beta-reader, a possible presentation or a signing; for enough money to go to that famous workshop you are dying to attend; for the right moment to jump in and start that book; for a friend’s critique of your work, and on and on. My advice? If or when you finally become aware that waiting is how you are spending most of your time, STOP. I don’t care if it’s just the grocery list, grab the nearest writing utensil and write SOMETHING, or do the most physically exhausting thing you can think of until the thing you are waiting for is no longer holding your head in a frozen vise.
- Any tips for old writers?
I find that chocolate works best in the morning, beer in the afternoon, and wine at night!
Connect with Linda!
website and blog: http://www.lindavigenphillips.com