Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Author Interview with Theresa Milstein

Theresa was one of my 100 followers contest winners and here is her interview.

So, Theresa, please share with us your latest news.

BlogHer has begun reposting some of my previous posts. It’s my first paid gig, which is pretty exciting. I hope to be a more regular contributor to the blog. Here’s the link to my profile. I get less comments than my regular blog, but more readers.

I'll say that's exciting! Congratulations! When did you first consider yourself a writer?

That’s been a gradual process. I decide to write seriously about four years ago, but had only taken one creative writing course in college so I had much to learn. I think I became comfortable with telling people I’m a writer shortly after I started my blog “Substitute Teacher’s Saga” last September. I write, therefore I’m a writer.

What inspired you to write your book?

I was driving to New York for Christmas break. There was this creepy mist wrapping around trees on the side of the highway. A minute later, I passed by a Walmart, and the line, “Walmart was the first to disappear,” popped into my head. I spent the rest of the trip trying to figure out why and how a Walmart disappeared and what it had to do with the fog.

Oh, what a fantastic prompt! Love it. There are so many different directions, it makes my head spin. :) Do you have a specific writing style?

I love writing children and teen dialogue. It comes easily to me since I spend so much time with my kids and students.

How did you come up with the title?

For my manuscript that I’m querying The Mist Chasers, it was originally called The Disappearances. My main character, Eve, calls herself a mist chaser. Someone in my critique group suggested the title change.

Now that is an awesome title. It's not always easy to choose a title. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Since there’s an environmental message, I’d like teens to think about the changes they could make in their lives, little and big, to help save the planet. If we wait for the government to do everything, we won’t do enough.

Oh, that's a great message. What books have most influenced your life most?

Harry Potter because it got me writing. I want to create books that can have whimsy and humor, but still have an important message and an exciting plot. When I was around eighteen, The Accidental Tourist taught me about healthy relationships. The idea that it’s not enough to love someone, but it’s who you are when you’re with that person that really stuck with me. And I’d add The Lorax because it made me care about the environment was I was in first grade.

I love the Harry Potter books! If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

I would choose Kate DiCamillo because she writes different books in different voices. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane is one of my favorite books, ever.

Now that is an awesome book. I read it to my youngest sister once even though she had already read it about five times. But some books are just worth rereading. What book are you reading now?

I always read two or three books at a time. Right now, I’m reading Tithe by Holly Black and How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack by Chuck Sambuchino. I follow Chuck’s “Guide to Literary Agents” blog and I’ve done two guest posts.

That's an awesome blog. I follow it too. Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

I really enjoyed Paranormalcy by Kiersten White. The protagonist, Evie has a great voice and the premise is clever.

I have to read that book. I've heard so many great things about it. What are your current projects?

I just wrote a short story “Allured” that I submitted to Wyvern Publications. I hope it will make it into their upcoming YA book, Fangtales. I’ve also unearthed my first manuscript to see if it can be rewritten knowing what I know about writing now. Can this manuscript be saved?

Oh, good luck! I plan on submitting to that anthology too. Can you share a little of your current work with us?

I’m on chapter five of Naked Eye, which is a YA fantasy. The protagonist, Lucienne, loses her eye in seventh-grade. When she’s sixteen, her prosthetic eye is replaced by a magical one so she knows when people are lying. She finds skeletons in her past and has to figure out whom to trust.

Oh, that sounds griping! You have awesome story ideas. Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

The query is more daunting than writing the book. I use “that” and “so” way too much. I add too much tell and need to replace it with showing, but I’ve gotten much better about that.

Queries are awful. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their

It’s so hard to choose! I guess I’ll have to mention J.K. Rowling again because not other author made me want to live the protagonist’s life so much. How many of us dream to be more than a mere muggle? And the way book 7 brought everything together was impressive and satisfying.

Great choice! What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Editing. Figuring out what’s wrong and how to make it right. And I wish I’d paid more attention to those grammar lessons in school.

I'm with ya on editing. A necessary evil. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I only have blog readers. Your support keeps me going.

How long does it take you to write a book?

Usually five weeks. I eat, sleep, and breathe the book. When I’m done, it’s a rough, rough draft.

Wow! Color me impressed. I always say that you have to have the words written first in order to polish them. Man, I wish my first draft could be done in 5 weeks. What is your work schedule like when you're writing?

If it’s not the weekend and I don’t have a sub job, I try to devote three to four hours of solid writing and editing. And then I sneak in more when I can.

That's great. I'm so envious. I wish I had that amount of time to devote to writing. I'm lucky if I get a half hour here or there. What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I will wake up dreaming about the next scene in my WIP, and have to get up in the middle of the night and write it down before I forget. Does anyone else do that?

*waves hand* I do! Although usually it's a new story idea, but sometimes it has been a scene from the story I'm working on at the time. Now for some fun questions. What paranormal creature would you be and why?

I’d be a witch in HarryPotter, of course. I’m just waiting for that Hogwarts letter.

Me too! Haven't seen any owls yet though. What would you do if you didn’t have to work?

I’d love to have more time to write. And if I could visit Paris often and write there, that wouldn’t be too bad.

Writing in Europe would be awesome. If I ever make it big, I'm definitely gonna do that. What did you want to be when you were 10 years old?

An artist. Later, I found out I was good, but not that good.

What makes you laugh?

My husband makes me laugh. He’s really sarcastic. My children make me laugh as well. Lately, they keep trying to speak with British accents, but they sound awful. We all crack up about it. And two of my favorite funny TV shows are “30 Rock” and “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”.

I love sarcastic humor too. Thank you so much for joining us today, Theresa!


Anonymous said...

Awesome interview. Thanks for this. I love learning about writers.

I have Paranormalcy on my desk here, hopefully next in line to read. I went to her book signing while she was here in Arizona. She's awesome. Funny in person like she is on her blog.

Can't wait to read her book!

I wish you the best, Theresa, with your writing.

salarsenッ said...

Paid writing gig, and Kate D...both so cool. Thanks for sharing Theresa, and Nicole, great interview.

The Golden Eagle said...

Excellent interview, Nicole, Theresa! I loved reading it.

Joanne said...

Thanks Nicole and Theresa, it's always interesting to go behind the scenes in a writer's life. Theresa, I'm impressed, too, with a 5-week manuscript. Do you outline extensively beforehand to meet that timeframe? Or keep an idea journal to keep the thoughts flowing?

Talli Roland said...

Great interview, Theresa and Nicole! Theresa, I love the story of how you got your opening sentence!

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

Great interview. I'm with Talli, I love how Theresa got the opening line for her story. :)

Angie said...

Great interview! I loved learning more about your writing, Theresa. I'm impressed with your first draft speed. My novel took 15 months! Anyway, good luck with all the submissions and querying.

Clarissa Draper said...

What a great interview, Teresa. You spend a lot of time on your writing every week. Good for you.

Theresa Milstein said...

@ Lynn Rush, thanks. Visit my blog and tell me what you think of Paranormalcy when you read it.

@ SA Larsen, I'm going to see Kate DiCamillo this Friday. They're going to premier Because of Winn Dixie and she's going to sign books at the Somerville Theatre.

@ The Golden Eagle, thanks!

@ Joanne, except for a few scribbles, I make it up as I go. But this last one has more thought and is going slower. Blogging takes more of my writing time now.

@ Talli, thank you!

@ Lindsay, I'm glad you and Talli like the story of how I got the opening line. I wanted to pull out my laptop for that drive.

@ Angie, remember, these 5-week drafts are ROUGH. I'm going slower this time, and I hope it pays off later.

Old Kitty said...

Thank you Nicole Zoltack for interviewing the eveer so fabulous Theresa Milstein!! Like you I am in AWE that she writes a book in FIVE WEEKS?!?!?!?! I really don't have an excuse!! She's a prolific and very determined and wonderful writer! That story of how she got her wonderful opening line for the Mist Chasers is just superb! Thank you! Take care

Theresa Milstein said...

@ Clarissa, thanks. I hope your'e writing is going well.

@ Old Kitty, thank you. Really, it's a mess of a book in five weeks. The editing takes months and months.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Great inspiration for a story!

Talei said...

Ah, I love the title ' The Mist Chasers'. And its interesting to hear the inspiration for the opening line. I'm always interested in how stories start. Really hope the querying goes well for you!! ;)

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Great interview. I'll admit, Harry Potter got me inadvertantly into writing YA (even though the books were MG). Originally I was going to write historic romances.

Love the title The Mist Chasers. :D

Nicki Elson said...

Thanks for the interview! Congratulations to Theresa on her blog gig and good luck to her with the query process. yeah, nothing kills the joy of writing like querying.

I think it's very cool that she can totally immerse herself while writing that first draft.

And for you Nicole - I've given your blog an award! You can stop by my blog to "pick it up." ;)

Theresa Milstein said...

@ Alex, thanks. It was the strangest way I've ever received an idea for a story.

@ Talei, thank you. If it doesn't go anywhere, at least I'm on to the next project.

@ Stina, I wonder how many other writers were inspired by Harry Potter.

@ Nicki, I love how you put it. Nothing does kill the joy of writing like querying!

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

I love the title change for the ms! I remember reading about the concept on her blog a while back. Very cool!

Great interview. So great to learn more about Theresa!

The Words Crafter said...

Thanks for this interview and giving us a chance to learn more about Theresa! Very interesting read!!!

Shannon said...

What a great interview! I thought I knew Theresa fairly well, but I learned even more about her. Great questions and answers!

Julie Musil said...

This was so fun! I loved reading more about Theresa.

Theresa, that Wal Mart line is awesome!

Anonymous said...

Great interview! I look forward to one day reading the book inspired by the WalMart line, it sounds great.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Nicole ..great to meet you .. and Theresa .. lovely interview - so informative and fun .. five weeks for a novel .. way to go!

The Mist Chasers change .. was inspired by your group, and the line coming from passing a Walmart .. pretty strong mist!

Fun read and interview .. thanks so much .. and long may both your successes continue .. Hilary

Theresa Milstein said...

@ Carolina, I'm glad you liked the title change. I had taken a poll on my blog when deciding, and nearly everyone preferred The Mist Chasers.

@ The Words Crafter, thank you! Glad you liked it. Nicole was armed with good questions.

@ Shannon, it was fun sharing more about me.

@ Julie, I hope the opening line makes agents want to request pages.

@ Kelly, I hope you get your chance to read it!

@ Hilary, my new query called it a "badass mist".

I'm glad you found Nicole's blog and checked out my interview.

Christina Lee said...

Yeha Theresa! what a fantastic story about how you saw the WalMart etc. love stuff like that!

Ann said...

You write your first draft in five weeks. WOW! Good for you.

Mists do lend themselves to mystery!

Nicole & Theresa, great interview.

Slamdunk said...

Thanks for the interview Nicole.

Theresa: Wow, 5 weeks? That must feel like quite an accomplishment.

Theresa Milstein said...

@ Christina, I like hearing how people come up with ideas too. Glad you liked it.

@ Ann, thank you. I've had a few people tell me mist can't be that strong. Why not? It's fantasy. And what about hurricanes? You can't exactly hold on to a hurricane but they're pretty badass too.

@ Slamdunk, I can't reiterate enough how rough the draft is after five weeks. My computer is embarrassed for me.

Shelley Sly said...

(Posting this on both blogs, please don't mind the copy/paste.)

Theresa and Nicole, I love this interview! Theresa, It was so nice to read more about you (like how you got the idea for "Mist Chasers"... and how you watch "Always Sunny" -- I love that show!) Thanks, Nicole, for interviewing and posting, and Theresa for sharing!

Theresa Milstein said...

@ Shelley, thanks! I seem to like comedies where people are awful to each other. I used to love "Arrested Development" too.

WritingNut said...

Aye, I got distracted on my way over here yesterday and never made it back to the computer :S.

What an awesome interview, Theresa! I absolutely loved it. I love the story about how you got your idea for your novel :)

Theresa Milstein said...

@ Writing Nut, thanks for remembering to come back. I'm glad you liked the interview. Nicole's questions got me all chatty.

Anonymous said...

It was fun learning more about Theresa. I love that line: "Walmart was the first to disappear."
"The Lorax" is my favorite Dr. Suess book. At the far edge of town... We used to perform it as a play at an Env. Ed. program I worked for. Thanks for reminding me about that.

Theresa Milstein said...

@ PaulGreci, I'd love to see The Lorax as a play. We have a video which has a different slant than the book.