Whatever they want to know! I think the internet has been fantastic in letting authors and readers interact. In a way, there’s never been a better time to be a bookworm.
I guess the biggest thing about me as a writer is that I write the stories that I want to read. That means fresh ideas, avoiding trope, and characters who become “real.” I’m always looking for a new take on something or other. That’s how new ideas start forming, which makes the imagination take off.
Are you one of those writers born with a pen in your hand and ideas flitting through your mind, or did your interest develop later?
I was definitely born to be a writer. My mom enrolled me in a book club before I was even born. Books were my friends and my favorite thing was story time. My first story was a fairly incomprehensible one about a bunny rabbit painter named Carrots. Apparently, he accidentally painted another bunny’s nose and they became friends. I love a happy ending!
How long did it take you to complete your first manuscript? Did it fly from your fingertips, or did the story emerge slowly?
The first one I completed took probably over a year. It was like pulling teeth. The first one is hard. And bad. I’m glad it didn’t get published, though I was crushed at the time. But each book is better than the last. Kind of like how the first pancake is always a throwaway, but it’s the precursor to the golden, delicious ones.
What are some life experiences that have infiltrated your stories?
Everything I experience goes into the big imagination hopper, and I never know when something will pop out when I’m writing. That’s why I collect experiences like other people collect coins or signed copies of books. If I get a chance to do something new, I’ll try it just to have the experience.
Like the time I wore a pair of glasses that tracked my eye movements and did some faux shopping at the grocery store They wanted to see where people’s eyes were drawn as they shopped the store. Or the time I was a movie extra. I’m a major introvert, but I’m very adventurous, because I always endeavor to experience new things.
Five vital things surround you as you create. What are they? What makes them special to you?
Really, that’s it. All I need is my laptop, a comfortable place to sit, and some quiet. All the important things are in my head.
Writers face many time-constraint challenges. What are some of yours? What do you do to overcome them?
Mostly, my family. I have two sons and a husband, and sometimes it seems like they exist purely to keep me from writing. I have to jealously guard my writing time, which means working whenever they are not home. On occasion, if I am working on a deadline, I have to lock myself in the bedroom and tell my husband he’s on his own, but mostly I have to bide my time and wait until I can be alone.
What is the most thrilling aspect of the writing process for you?
Writing an awesome scene. My heart pounds all the way through, and after, I dance around the house and sing loudly. Probably badly, too.
How do you begin a story? Do you just sit down with an idea in mind and start writing, or are you a person who wouldn’t dream of starting without a detailed outline, character sketches, and pages of research data?
I work things through in my head and take notes as I build the world and the characters. I keep notebooks everywhere. I outline and get as much structure down as I can before the words start demanding to get out. From then on, I go with the flow. My characters always do things to upset my outline, so I have to follow their lead.
Zen’s debut release with Soul Mate, Seeking Sorrow (Guardians of Terath, Book One):
An earth-like world of high-tech humans faces the reality that their world is not as safe as they thought it was. Five people are thrown together to quietly get to the bottom of an unfathomable event that must stay quiet. If the population of Terath becomes aware of the truth, it will spark a civil war. That war would pit the majority of the population against the powerful minority with the ability to harness and manipulate mana. The resulting cataclysm would decimate the population and tear apart the foundation of society.
The five people chosen for this must reconsider everything they thought they knew about mana, even as they learn to trust one another’s abilities. They must embrace everything they never wanted in order to prevent the devastation of their world. One of them will be forever changed. Love will be denied, badassery will be unleashed, and Terath will never be the same.
Even success comes at a price.
Zen, thanks for visiting with us today!