07 November 2013

Author Interview with J Washburn (for NaNoWriMo)



Some of you may not know me very well. So, in the spirit of NaNoWriMo (or, ChroNoWriMo, in my case), here's an author interview, cross-posted from Book Goodies for Kids

Author Bio

I was born in the middle of skin-walker territory, practically on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona. I grew up with my several siblings in suburban Idaho. The neighborhoods north of our house had a few great bike jumps, hockey courts, and even a safehouse for sneaking video games. Open fields spread out to the south, which, back then, looked surprisingly similar to the magical land of Prydain, littered with streams and trees. It was out there that my brothers and I, in one way or another, actually lived the adventures you’ve read in my books. Then I accidentally grew up. On accident—I mean it. Lucky for me, I still find adventure here and there—in places where it’s easier for adults to see it. Like Xi’an, Cusco, and Stonehenge. Being a grownup also meant I had to become a productive member of society, so I decided that writing adventures would be the next best thing to living them. That’s what I do. And I’m glad you could join me—we have some exciting things ahead of us.

What Inspires You to Write?

Everything. But that’s a cop out. Then nothing. That’s also a cop out. Alright, fine: I don’t know what inspires me to write. Everyday there’s something that inspires me. I’m always jotting notes or writing scenes on the spot—right when they come to me. Sometimes it’s things like a bug crawling down my shirt, or thinking I heard the clouds whisper something, or even seeing the expression of a sinister old man while I’m people watching. But I’m not sure what creates the urge to write these down or to spin them into stories. Sometimes I see things and I’m not inspired to write them. But sometimes I can’t help but write. And I don’t know what makes the difference—what makes the fire burn. All I know is that it burns somewhere deep inside.

Tell us about your writing process.

I write in Google Docs, which is pretty unusual. I’ve written three whole books that way. A lot of people complain that it doesn’t have enough features, but I actually like that it’s simple: I’m a minimalist, after all. Also, I tend to outline before I start. That makes it so I don’t have to revise nearly as much. But it adds to the workload on the planning end. As I begin writing, there are always small things that I don’t figure out until I get deep into it. And once I discover those little things, they often become big things, which can cause the heavier revision I was trying to avoid. I guess it’ll always be a trade-off. I’m fairly in the middle of this debate, but I wish I could outline more thoroughly than I do—that would be ideal.

How is writing for young adults different from writing for adults?

DaVinci is said to have said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” This really rings true for me (MNMLST, after all). For me, writing for a younger audience usually just means you have to make things more simple—so they make sense to a younger worldview. If DaVinci was right, that means you’re making a more sophisticated story. I like to think he was. And if you do it right, you won’t leave out anything valuable to adults. At the same time, you’ll make it accessible and valuable to teens. I love to think that writing could inspire such a wide audience. It’s tough, but that’s what I strive for—you tell me whether I’ve done it.

Do you listen to or talk to your characters?

If you ever catch me talking to myself, I’m actually just rehearsing, alright? It’s not my fault: I have dialog running in my mind almost constantly. (And sometimes my tongue starts moving along with the rhythm.) I’m not crazy. I’m just having a discussion with a character to figure out what his or her thought process is like. In fact, because of this, sometimes I think I should be a playwright instead. That’s how much I like dialog. And it starts with these embarrassing conversations with myself. I mean with my characters.

How did you decide how to publish your books?

I’m a pretty independent sort of person. And my decision to self-publish started when I read about people who struck gold in the new self-publishing frontier. I caught the fever and decided to give it a shot. I still don’t know how viable it will be for me personally in the long run, but I have high hopes. They’ll call it foolhardy if my quest fails, but they’ll call it courage if I succeed. Here’s hoping. Ask me again in a few more years, and I’ll tell you if I made the right choice.

What do you think about the future of book publishing?

I’m a tech geek. Maybe even a tech junkie. So I have a lot of faith in technological innovations. I’ve been very excited with each new announcement, no matter how small it is, and I’m always wishing they’d get here sooner. I also believe in freedom—especially in the marketplace. When you combine rapidly advancing technology with freedom, you get basically unlimited possibilities. This leaves some huge opportunities for anyone willing to reach out and help others. Sorry, you probably think I’m sidetracking (which I often do). I just mean that we’ve been given a huge gift—we hold power in our hands. And we can choose to use it to serve people or we can be selfish with it. As for me, I believe in karma—you create something that helps people, and it’ll come back to you. You send out good things and good things will come back. That’s what I think the future holds for us—for all of us.





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