Friday, February 14, 2020

Writing Warriors United Spotlight Author Interview - Seelie Kay

What is the first book that made you cry?
Probably Winnie the Pooh. He and his crew were always getting in trouble. Even as an adult I found meaning in the ultimate resolution of his tales. A.A. Milne created characters that simply touch my heart. He always manages to evoke a tear or two.

Does writing energize or exhaust you?
I am a pantser. I write when inspired and I keep pounding away to empty my head of every last detail. I begin energized. When I finish I am ready to crawl into bed and pass out.

What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Giving up too easily. Being adverse to change. Failing to embrace your muse. Being married to an outline.

What is your writing Kryptonite?
Lack of sleep. I need a clear head to write. When I toss and turn an entire night, no words flow the next day.

What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I connect with most of my writer friends on social media and they number in the hundreds. As a group, we share a lot of information and ask a lot of questions. The writing community is very helpful and supportive.

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
When you write in a bubble, you think your writing is perfect. When an editor gets his/her hands on your manuscript, it is embarrassing how many mistakes you actually made. Not only am I much more careful with what I submit, but I also welcome the editor’s pen. I want only the best to reach the public.

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
(Laughs.) The copyright fee. Seriously. If you are going to spend the time writing, editing, and publishing a book, you need to take steps to protect it.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
I started writing at an early age. I have a copy of a crayon-written missive to my mother, complaining about an unfair punishment. My mother told me she laughed so hard that I was quickly forgiven. 

What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
The Brethren by Bob Woodward. It was one of the first books that provided a modern-day inside look at the U.S. Supreme Court. That book gave a new appreciation for the judicial system and is probably what pushed me to law school.

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
Probably Tigger. Always happy. Always bouncing. Always filled with ideas.

What does literary success look like to you?
Knowing that people appreciate my books, whether that comes in the form of a book sale, reviews, emails, or a positive comment.

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
I have brothers and have always had male friends, so it isn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. You just have to be looking through the right lens when writing.

Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?
I have learned that it doesn’t matter how you are published, bad fiction is bad fiction. I have read some truly bad books published by major houses and some incredible books self-published by authors. We have a tendency to think books get publishing deals because they are great books. Nothing could be further from the truth. 

How do you select the names of your characters?
I use an old phone book. I select a first name, then a last name. While I am searching, I try to find a name that fits the character.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
People who know me tend to read more into my books than are actually there. I don’t intentionally hide secrets. I think that’s dishonest and can be misleading.

What was your hardest scene to write?
Scenes that involve violence. I am a peace-loving person. I don’t enjoy confrontation and I try not to provoke people. Similarly, I don’t enjoy witnessing abuse or brutality. In fact, it makes me sick to my stomach. So writing about it is difficult and violent scenes tend to stay with me for days after I get them down on paper.

What is your favorite childhood book?
Winnie the Pooh, followed by Harriet the Spy.

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
Shaping inspiration. I get inspiration from all sorts of things—people, places, events, objects… The difficulty lies in bridging that inspiration into stories. For me, writing tends to be a lot of “what ifs.” Something catches my attention and my mind automatically goes to, “Is there a story there?” Then the “what ifs” begin. Sometimes, they spin off into a possible story. Sometimes, they don’t.
When you die – what would you like the universe to say to you as you walk into the next life? You loved well. Keep it up!

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