What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
I once suggested we all go to Tintern Abbey on a school trip in college. By the time we got there, I was so deep in an episode of depression I didn’t even get off the bus. I just put my head against the window and cried the entire time.
What is the first book that made you love reading?
When I was a kid, I used to love the mostly picture book The Z was Zapped. I was so fascinated by the pictures, the text, the way everything came together. I didn’t understand what it was I loved about that book, but I loved it nonetheless.
What is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?
Hiring a ghostwriter to slap together a generic story, sticking a famous person’s name on it, and then releasing it from a big five publishing house as if anyone is going to remember that feeble piece of nonsense in six months.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Both, in different ways. During the process, I find it quite energizing and fun. But after a full day of writing or editing or rewriting, it can become quite exhausting,.
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
This might sound odd. Because classes to improve your skills are always a good idea and I love to take classes myself. However, it seems like anyone who has ever put a word on a website has an endless amount of masterclasses, seminars, and courses, all aimed to help you achieve writing superstardom. I’d estimate about 2% of these classes are actual helpful or relevant. The rest are just a way to part you from your money.
Does a big ego help or hurt writers?
Extremes often don’t help anyone. I know this because I have incredibly low self-esteem and on a psychology test I once scored a zero on the ego section. I have struggled to keep going in the face of rejection, criticism, and utter indifference.
I have tried to tell myself to write for myself, but when I don’t even like myself, this seems to be an exercise in futility. I believe that being humble is a great attribute. But I also believe sometimes you have to smile in someone’s face when they tell you to give up writing, and then name a character after them in your next book who you kill off in a particularly gruesome way.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Probably my phone. When I see alerts start going off, I tend to grab my phone and forget what I was doing.
Have you ever gotten reader’s block?
Yes, I’ve had it for a long time. I was untreated for ADHD and sitting still for even five minutes to read a book was impossible for me. Sometimes I would force myself to sit down and read and it was just miserable. I didn’t want to do it! I had to be patient with myself, get the right medical help I needed, and let myself acclimate back into reading.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
Yes, but only because I thought a pseudonym was basically creating a separate character. Including giving them a backstory and finding a photo of them, and so on. I thought I was going to be like a secret agent super spy. It was very disappointing to find out that’s not the case.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
When I tried writing what I thought people wanted to read I ended up in an existential crisis about losing my voice as a writer. I’m not in this for anything other than my own enjoyment. So I will write what I want to write. Nothing else.