1.) When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
My mother is the most avid reader I know, so that has always been a huge influence. But the first “moment” was in third grade. I wrote a story about a lioness and her cubs. Making this imagined story into actual writing thrilled me. And then in high school, I wrote a strange short about an arsonist and my English teacher told me she thought I had a future in writing. She established the self-perception of seeing myself as creative and a writer that perhaps re-chartered the course of my life.
2.) What do you love most about the writing process?
I love having an idea for a story and picturing the ending. Unusually, story concepts come to me in the abstract with cinematic details that most often include the final scene. So, when I sit down to write, I am excited by the prospect of writing to that final scene. Ultimately though, what I love is the same thing that I loved in third grade: making imagined story into actual writing.
3.) What do you love most about teaching writing?
I think my strength lies in seeing the narrative structure or bones of an idea. So when someone has a draft or concept that is locked or stuck in a cliché, I love discussing their idea to unlock their thinking and perhaps spur them to a new twist on their plot.
4.) What are you reading right now?
I am reading The Name of the Wind at the persistent request of my teenage son (and because Lin-Manuel Miranda loves it).
5.) What’s your favorite writing quote?
Oh boy, that’s a tough one. My favorite quote in writing might be: “No pain is too small if it hurts, but any pain is too big if it’s cherished.” (Edward St. Aubyn, Never Mind).
But my two favorite thoughts on writing are: 1) to make sure that a character’s perceptions proceed their conclusions (e.g., they feel the sun’s warmth before they are filled with hope), and 2) the stakes of a story are not just the potential for a bad thing to happen, it is also the price the protagonist must pay for something good to happen.