Welcome to Author Thursday hosted by Never Too Old for Y.A. & N.A. Books group on Goodreads!
Today we welcome author Tiffany Schmidt for an interview!
Mia is always looking for signs. A sign that she should get serious with her soccer-captain boyfriend. A sign that she’ll get the grades to make it into an Ivy-league school. One sign she didn’t expect to look for was: “Will I survive cancer?” It’s a question her friends would never understand, prompting Mia to keep her illness a secret. The only one who knows is her lifelong best friend, Gyver, who is poised to be so much more. Mia is determined to survive, but when you have so much going your way, there is so much more to lose. From debut author Tiffany Schmidt comes a heart-wrenching and ultimately uplifting story of one girl’s search for signs of life in the face of death.
Let's hear what Tiffany has to say! Welcome Tiffany!
Did you always know you wanted to be a writer or did you want to be something else?
I wanted to be a million different things while growing up. An astronaut, an artist, a pop star (preferably one like JEM!) , a veterinarian (but one who didn't have to see blood or any animal that was sick or dying...). Author was definitely always on my list. Mom and teacher were too. I feel incredibly lucky that I've gotten to be all three.
(Though I'm still looking for my magic pair of Jem-earrings so I can make my pop debut...)
How long does it take you to write a book from start to finish?
This has really varied with each book. Send Me a Sign was about 18 months from first words to submission. I wrote Bright Before Sunrise very quickly, but Break Me Like a Promise involved a significant amount of research and took more than a year to complete.
How do you come up with themes for your stories?
I tend to start with characters first -- the themes reveal themselves through getting to know my characters and what they want... and what they need. The conflict between wanting and needing often drives the rest.
Do you have a schedule of when you write?
I have toddler twins, so my writing schedule is linked to the chaos of their days. When they nap, I write. After they're in bed, I write. If they're playing contentedly in the sandbox or doing puzzles, I jot down ideas or respond to emails.
How are you able to balance other aspects of your life with your writing?
I wish I had an answer to this question! This is something I struggle with daily (as evidenced by the fact that I'm ridiculously late returning these answers).
Balance has gotten harder as I've added more balls to the juggling mix. Writing, revising, promotions, events, social media, email... and then there's all the other parts of my non-writer life. It's really easy to get caught up in focusing on just one of these and let all the others fall. Sometimes this is necessary -- like when mono-focusing on a manuscript close to deadline or on family during vacation, but other times it's really a matter of making lots and lots of lists and trying not to lose them.
What elements do you think make a great story line?
I think this varies by book and author. Some authors have beautiful, descriptive elements that serve their storytelling, others are stunning and stark and it works just as well for that narrative.
What was the hardest thing about writing a book?
Letting go. After I've finished revisions, and copyedits, and reviewing the final page proofs, it's not truly *my* story anymore. Or, at least, it's not just my story. Once it's in the hands of reviewers, critics, and readers, it's hard to step back and realize that it's not something I can change anymore and that my part is done.
How many books have you written so far? Do you have a favorite?
Including novels that will never see the light of day? Six. They've each taken turns being a favorite. They're never my favorite when I'm in the depths of revision despair, but they're always my favorite when I hear a reader's enthusiastic response.
Do you have a favorite character?
I try not to form favorites. Once a character is a favorite, I want to protect them from the plot... and that's not great for the story.
Where do you write?
Anywhere and everywhere. I love writing on my treadmill desk and ideally I've got a cup of coffee and control of the music, but I'm pretty much capable of working anywhere -- from dictating voice notes while pushing a double stroller or driving, to the waterproof notebook I keep in my bathroom for shower inspiration, to the text messages, notes, and emails I send myself with scene fragments or ideas.
When deciding on how to publish, what directed you to the route you took?
I was a fan of Joe Monti from the first time I met him. He was my dream agent and I'm so lucky to have ended up with him and the Barry Goldblatt Lit. Agency. Joe's an invaluable resource for career advice and has done a fabulous job of directing my path in the publishing world.
Have you gotten feedback from family about your book(s)? What do they think?
My mom always wonders if the mothers in the books are related to her. My father wants to know when I'm going to add more sci-fi or fantasy. My siblings like to ask for book recommendations.
What kinds of things do you like to do outside of writing?
Reading seems like an obvious answer, but I do love books! I also like to run--but hate races. I love traveling and also staying home with my husband, kiddos, and puggles. I recently started a pottery class and that's been a blast.
What kinds of advice would you give to someone who wants to start writing?
Read a lot. Read widely. Take notes about what you like and what you don't. If you find yourself reacting strongly to a character/scene/book, stop and ask yourself why.
When you're writing, follow the same pattern -- stop and ask yourself what emotions you're trying to evoke. Take notes about what feels like it's working and what still feels wonky. See if you can self-diagnose.
Also, get some rockin' critique partners. They'll save your story-sanity.
What is your favorite book? favorite author? Do you have an author that inspired/inspires you to write?
I have too many favorite authors to list. And they change with my mood. Some of my favorites are: Holly Black, Libba Bray, Ally Carter, David Levithan, Stephanie Perkins, and Jordan Sonnenblick.
Do you have any go to people when writing a book that help you with your story lines as well as editing, beta reading and such?
I do. I have a few fabulous, trusted critique partners that read most everything I write. Their ability to offer fresh eyes and brilliant insight into why things are or aren't working has been such a gift. And their patience with bouncing various plot points and fixes seems limitless.
I value their writing genius more than I can say, but I cherish their friendship and support even more.
Are you working on anything now?
I'm currently working on my new series, ONCE UPON A CRIME FAMILY. The first book, HOLD ME LIKE A BREATH, will come out with Walker-Bloomsbury in early 2015. The books are crime family fairy tale retellings and I'm revising HOLD ME while sketching out the scenes and poking at book two.
Thanks so much for being here today, Tiffany! It was great having you!
SEND ME A SIGN is her first novel. BRIGHT BEFORE SUNRISE will follow in Winter, 2014. The ONCE UPON A CRIME FAMILY series begins with HOLD ME LIKE A BREATH in 2015. You can find out more about her and her books at: TiffanySchmidt.com, TiffanySchmidtWrites.Tumblr.com or by following her on Twitter @TiffanySchmidt.
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