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Hope. I want readers to feel like they know my characters and to gain a sense of hope—even when the story makes them cry. I’ve run out of hope before, and it is a terrifying, dark, twisted place to exist. But the best thing is that hope can always be rekindled.
1. Read. A lot. Read all kinds of books, too. Push yourself to read outside of your comfort zone.
2. Write. Some people say to write every day, and while that is theoretically awesome, it may not be realistic. Plus, there are many times when a story isn’t ready for actual words on paper. Sometimes you need to let the idea bounce around in your brain a bit before you try to capture it. Which leads me to number three.
3. Daydream. Allow your mind to wander. Be creative in as many ways as you can by drawing, painting, crafting, and playing music. Get outside. Take walks. Visit museums. Sit and watch the way shadows move across the lawn. Play with your dog. Talk to friends. Just get out there and live so that your ideas and creativity will continue to flow.
Tough question. Very tough. I’ll say one of the most influential novels for me was To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, which is probably why you can see tributes to that story throughout my first novel Love and Other Unknown Variables.
But I also love, love, love Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl. It’s the novel I go back to now whenever I need to lift my spirits.
I will buy any book Rainbow Rowell writes. And thus far, I’ve loved every single one of them. She is a master of character development and dialogue. I adore her stories!
My favorite is probably reading. I also love to spend time with my family and friends.
My parents filled our home with children’s books when I was young. I’d say growing up with stories all around me was a huge bit of inspiration for my creativity. I’ve always loved words and the magic behind them—the way black and white letters on a page can move you to tears or make you laugh out loud—magical.
2. Visit Ireland.
I have so many!! They mostly involve my sister. We used to do this bit where we’d pretend to be runway models and walk all ridiculously, hips swaying, head up, face bunched like we were smelling something awful—you know, exactly how runway models tend to look. So, we’d do the walk, but instead of being amazingly self-possessed, we’d always pretend to fall—bit epic, slow motion falls.
One time, my sister decided to do the “model walk” bit and fell in the most ridiculous way, but we were in a very public place, so lots of people saw her and most of them thought she’d honestly fallen (in slow motion—really, people? No one falls in slow motion!) and landed right on her face.
Find your passion and follow it. And when you fail along the way (because you will, and if we’re being honest, you should fail—if you’re not failing, then you’re not pushing the limits!) get up and try some more.