Today I welcome Suzanne Lilly to my corner of the internet. Her debut novel Shades of the Future is planned for release on July 15th and, to mark the impending occasion, I shall ask a few questions and hopefully learn a little about my fellow author's approach to story telling.
1/ Tell me a little about yourself
I’m a 5th grade teacher of 10 and 11 year-old children during the day and an author at night. I love the water, hiking, movies, cooking, traveling, and just hanging out with friends and family. Summer is my favorite season of the year, because I lay by the pool like a lizard, soaking up the books I don’t get to read during the school year.
2/ What motivates you to write?
I write because I have so many stories inside me bursting to come out. I blame this on my 5th grade teacher who had a weekly assignment of writing a story using all of our spelling words. I would write two or three stories, decide which I liked best, and read it to the class. That’s when I realized how much I enjoyed writing. Now I can write and get paid for it. Life doesn’t get better than that.
3/ Which of your novels are you proudest of?
I’ve published short stories and non-fiction articles. Shades of the Future is my debut novel and its release date is the week of July 15, 2012. It’s about a girl with a running scholarship to Ohio State University who finds a pair of sunglasses that allow her to see the future. What she sees isn’t always sunny and bright, and she finds herself fighting to avoid the future she sees but wants to avoid. My next book, Untellable, releases in February of 2013, about a young woman trying to start a new life after her mother’s death. She has secrets about her death that she wants to keep hidden at all costs.
4/ Pixar's Up has proven that you can have a successful children's movie where the hero is not necessarily young. Does the definition, or reader's expectation, of YA still need to evolve?
I believe it does. YA can apply to a mindset as well as an age of the reader. To me, YA is all about discovery, first experiences, and the excitement of new things in our lives. We can enjoy those no matter how young or old we are. The movie Up, which happens to be one of my faves, proves that point.
5/ Where do you get your inspiration for your novels?
Inspiration is all around us if we slow down and allow it to reveal itself. I find inspiration in my experiences and through the people I meet. I got inspired to write a gold mining adventure called Gold Rush Girl while on a field trip with my class in Coloma, California, where James Marshall made the first gold discovery. Inspiration for Shades of the Future came from a dream I had after I had been sunglass shopping. Untellable is a story born out of my concern for children who age out of foster care and have no family to support them as they begin their adult lives.
6/ What is your main focus when writing? What do you believe is the most important aspect for your stories?
My main focus is to create a story people will want to read. If I’m going to take several hours out of people’s lives while they read my books, I want to give them an experience they’ll remember and enjoy. I want them to think my books are well worth the time they give to read them.
7/ What is the best tip you can give for aspiring writers?
Keep writing. I met John LesCroart in a bookstore one night, and he told me, “Give yourself 10,000 hours and about a million words. Then you’ll probably be a good writer.” That’s superb advice. There’s no way to get better at writing without writing. Put down the books about writing and just do it.
8/ What is the best tip you can give for reaching an audience?
Talk to them. Show you care about them. Be responsive.
9/ Who is your favourite author and why?
Favorite in what way? I have favorites because I love their writing, such as Joanne Harris, John Irving, Meg Cabot, and John LesCroart. I have favorites because of how well they support other authors, such as Bob Mayer and Jennie Crusie. I have other favorites just because I’ve become friends with them through networking and working together.
10/ Is there anything that you can tell me of your next novel?
Untellable, coming out in February 2013 is a story of Aspen Dwyer, a young woman with deep secrets. If the secret about her father gets out, it will put everyone she cares about in danger. When she reaches a point where she’s forced to show her hand, she must choose whether to run again, or to stand and fight for all the people she loves. Whatever she chooses, someone is going to get hurt.