What is something unique/quirky about you?
I love tomatoes. Okay, lots of people like tomatoes, but I’ll buy a bag of giant beefsteak tomatoes and just eat them like other people eat apples. I got the habit from my mother and didn’t find out it was unusual until I met my husband.
Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?
One, more or less. I’m a serial monogamist by nature when it comes to books. I can’t even focus on reading more than one book at a time, much less writing more than one. Sometimes I have to fudge things, especially since I coordinate my writing schedule with my husband/partner. I’ll sometimes start writing a solo project, leave off in the middle to make the timing work on a joint project, and then try to pick up where I left off, but it’s not ideal for me. To make it work, I have to write down all my ideas for the project I’m putting on hold, stow them away, and throw myself hard into the other one. I’m not someone who can just tell myself, “Oh, I’ll work on book A on Mondays through Wednesdays and book B on Thursdays through Saturdays.” The momentum just doesn’t work that way.
Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?
I usually start by writing a defining scene with the main character. I call it “verbal concept art,” and it might or might not make it into the final draft, or even the first draft, in anything close to its original form. The important thing is that I get a feel for who they are, what they want, and the conflict they’re facing. Then I might write short character bios for the other major players before I really get started, but more minor characters will just pop up all over the place without any planning. Allison in The Future Mrs. Brightside was one of those. She and her fraught relationship with Chloe just sort of happened.
Pen or type writer or computer?
Computer all the way. I self-edit heavily as I go, so I love the freedom of having a cursor I can move around. I know that’s counter to how most writers find inspiration, but for me, it’s hard to get passionate about essentially piling raw clay into a vague form for the entirety of the first draft. I need to be able to see some of the fine details taking shape as I go, even if I end up having to re-do a lot of them later, because those details are what assure me that the larger form has purpose.
When I was in school or working a commuter day job, I used to carry notebooks with me everywhere and fill them up pretty fast from writing in whatever downtime I could get, but they were always covered with crossings-out and margin notes and arrows moving parts of the text around. I don’t miss transcribing those messes.
Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reins?
About eighty-five percent of the time, I’m the one in charge. My characters will usually only intervene if I’m really doing something wrong, but there are those occasional secondary characters who suddenly start taking over way more than I intended them to. I’m a plotter, meaning I need to establish an outline before I can write the draft, but sometimes I’ll discover something about a character as I go that makes it impossible to push them through certain steps of the outline I had in mind, so I have to work out an alternate route. Everything went pretty much to plan for The Future Mrs. Brightside, though.
If The Future Mrs. Brightside had a candle, what scent would it be?
This is weird, but it would smell like beer and cream soda, for Chloe and Jon’s first date.