Q & A

Below are the answers to some of the questions I’ve been asked. Have a question that you’d like to see an answer to? E-mail me at questions(at)coewriting(dot)com or contact me here. Please note that I may not answer every question I receive; thanks for understanding.

What’s your favorite genre to read?

What I like to read varies according to my mood and how much time I have. I’ve probably read more YA fiction than anything else, and I also read a lot of nonfiction because it’s easier to read in short spurts. I really enjoy reading fiction but rarely have the time I need to keep track of the characters and plot. I tend to read fiction the most during my vacations because those are the only times when I have more than a single day off in a row.

What is your definition of friend?

I wrote a blog post to answer this. Read it here.

Who are you more like, Michelle or J?

Read an in-depth answer to this question here.

What’s your technical/educational background?

I have a B.A. in Writing.

Have you read The Lunar Chronicles?

Not yet, but I’ve finally downloaded the Kindle sample of Cinder.

What kind of book do you feel is your best kind to write?

I think I tend to end up writing books about characters who have been through a lot but still turn out okay, or books about characters who have been devalued their whole lives but who turn out to be stronger heroes than anyone imagined.

I wrote a slightly longer answer to this question here.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

I find that there’s no shortage of ideas. When I ride my bike, images stand out to me. When I’m in church, God reveals things to me that inspire me. Music makes me feel strong emotions. Movies give me new ideas and sometimes leave me in awe of situations, characters, settings, and experiences. I’m inspired all the time and never run dry of ideas. What I struggle more with is finding enough time and focus to keep up with those ideas. Right now I have four major works-in-progress, an unfinished work that I intend to pick up “someday,” and countless ideas for projects that I haven’t even started. Inspiration is everywhere, blooming all the time.

I’d like to know more about you.

I probably seem really serious on my blog and in my books, but when I’m in the classroom I’m probably one of the silliest teachers ever.

Why move to South Korea?

I made a video to answer this, but unfortunately my video editing software updated itself and removed the only tool I knew how to use. So until I learn how to use a different video editor, please accept this list instead:

Who’s your favorite author?

I don’t think I have a favorite author right now, but two authors who inspire me are J.K. Rowling and C.S. Lewis. I hope my books can make a difference in the world.

What’s your favorite book?

I hesitate to say I have one single favorite book. I have seasons during which a particular book might be my favorite. I would say, however, that any book I’m willing to reread is probably high-ranking on my list. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling and the Blade series by Tim Bowler are both series that I have read more than once and that I will probably read again.

How long have you been writing and how did you start?

The answer to this one was kind of long, so I dedicated a whole blog post to it here.

Where do you draw from when you write?

I think I write most authentically when I think of how I felt in certain situations. People sometimes tell me that they feel like Hunger Is the Best Sauce is “real,” like the emotions are authentic. I think that’s because I felt like Michelle did when I started it and when I ended it. Her healing sort of mirrors my own transformation. I was bitter at the start and better at the end, so I was much better at writing how she really felt because I felt that, too.

That said, I can’t always draw from my experience. I have a vivid imagination and spent way too much time daydreaming when I was younger.

I’m also inspired by music and movies. Sometimes ideas and powerful emotions hit me when I’m listening to or watching something, and they give me new ideas.

Do you really plan to choose what you write based on survey responses? I’d think you’d want to write the kind of things you like to read.

(This question was submitted by a reader responding to a survey I sent my mailing list asking for more information on the kinds of things they liked to read.)

No, but I have a million and one ideas, and knowing what my readers want can help me prioritize them. I have plenty of stories in me that I intend to write even if nobody wants to read them, but I also have to make a living, so it helps to know which of my books are going to bring in the money that will fund work on the others.

One favorite author is Michael Connolly and he uses jazz references throughout his books. Do you incorporate musical references?

I’m afraid I probably don’t. I love to use similes and metaphors but I typically use whichever images assemble in my mind. There may be occasional musical references in my work but I don’t specifically try to make all my images based on a certain theme.

Why did you write The Inventor’s Slave?

I made a video to answer this. You can watch it here.

Why is there so much violence in your writing?

There’s another video for this. It’s here.

Have you noticed any common themes arising in your stories?

I have a video about this here.