Find out why JoAnne begins her writing process by hand and why she loves revision.
Tell me a about yourself. What got you started in writing?
I was born on the South Side of Chicago and lived in the basement flat of my great aunt's two-flat. I was an only child, a dreamer, who played alone for hours in the attic and in the backyard. I guess the writing started in my head. I've wanted to write as long as I can remember. I think the first moment I knew I wanted to write was in the first grade, when I made my first book out of manila paper and crayons. I was also inspired to write by my father who once told me a story about his friend and him being locked inside a haunted house. He had me at the edge of my seat with this story. Afterwards when he told me he made it up, I knew that I wanted to make up stories too. But stories didn't come to me until high school, starting with pure symbolism and fantasy, and then in my twenties and thirties with realism. At forty, I finally found my genre—YA paranormal and fantasy.
How and where do you write? Do you prefer a laptop or do you prefer writing freehand?
When I wrote Obsession, I wrote it first by hand in a composition notebook. I didn't think at the time I could compose at a keyboard. I needed that hand-to-brain connection. But while revising Obsession, I learned that I could craft new scenes at the keyboard.
I've now evolved to a mixture of writing at the computer and writing by hand. Writing by hand really helps me get into the character's head and is helpful when writing introspective parts or parts in which the character is recapping what happened and how he or she feels about it. I also write by hand when using my journal to brainstorm and work out problem scenes.
Right now, I prefer writing at my desk because of the fast computer and big display. If I had a decent laptop (I have a net bookL), I would write everywhere—patio, yard, living room, kitchen table—wherever it's quiet.
What's your favorite part about writing? Your least favorite part about writing?
My favorite part of writing is revision. I know, it should be the least favorite, but at the revision stage you have the raw material down and have something to reassess and work with. Plus, the novel is closest to its finished form, and that feels good. I don't think I have a least favorite part of writing. It's all fun.
How do you come up with your characters? Why would readers want to get to know them?
I can't say exactly how I come up with my characters. My story ideas come from reoccurring dreams. I guess I have an inner sense of who the character should be—what they look like, how they act. Maybe I get that from the personas in my dreams. I guess I look for characters that fit the mood of the story and who will interact with the conflict in interesting ways. Even after I have an idea of who the character should be, I spend time developing the character further—or maybe you can say I get to know the character further, for example, what happened in the character's past to make the character the way he or she is.
I think the main characters I've developed so far tap into real feelings and qualms that we can all relate to. My characters are not perfect. They make mistakes, and they don't have flawless personalities. They could be spoiled, controlling, vulnerable—but they always learn from their mistakes and grow.
What types of marketing do you do to promote your writing?
I hate marketing. I hate saying "Buy my book." I do, however, want people to know that my book exists and where to find it if they are interested. I do have a Twitter account and try to tweet at least every week about Obsession. But, to me, it feels like shouting into a void. I also have a Facebook page for Obsession. I would like to use that page to engage with my readers. The thing I love about Facebook is being able to meet and be in touch with many people. I love doing giveaways. My goal is to increase the number of books I'm giving away for each. I believe that word of mouth is the best way to market a book.
How do you schedule your writing time? When do you write?
Because I also work as a freelance technical editor, the times I have to write shift according to my work load. If I've edited all day, I may or may not write for an hour after dinner. If I've had a full week of editing work, I'll spend time on the weekend to write or revise my work. If I don't have editing work for the day, I'll spend the day writing or revising. My best times to write are in the morning and in the evening. But typically, I can write any time as long as I've quieted my mind first.
What are you currently working on? Do you have a new book out?
I am currently planning a series of books to follow an urban-fantasy novel I wrote called Gargoyled.
Do you have a project on the back burner? Tell me about it.
My back-burner project is a contemporary science fiction novel. Yes, this is different than ghosts, paranormal, and fantasy that I've written about in the past. It will be told in a different narrative than my other three novels. The others were told in the first person present. This novel will be in first person past. I want the main character to be able to compare how she felt then with how she feels now.
What would you tell a beginning writer who wants to publish but doesn't believe he/she has enough talent?
First of all, you have to believe in yourself. It will energize your writing. Second of all, if you define talent as writing flowing prose or great metaphors, then I'd say this type of talent isn't mandatory to publish. What you need is to learn how to craft a great story and how to write clean prose. These are skills, and skills are learned, practiced, and honed.
Thank you, JoAnne. Learn more about JoAnne here:
OBSESSION can be purchased as an eBook from:
Barnes and Noble (http://bit.ly/GLsiZG)
Musa Publishing (http://bit.ly/GOamgE)