Q&A with Erin Jade Lange, Author of ‘Dead Ends’ and ‘Butter’by Yvonne , Friday July 4, 2014
Inside the world of a real life author...
We sat down with author of Dead Ends, Erin (pictured below) to find out all about her life as a writer...
Q1) You’ve said that your stories often start with a good character. How much do you draw on the people you meet for those characters?
None of my characters are directly inspired by people I know, but I will say I am attracted to people in real life who are "characters" themselves - complex people with a lot of personality. In my opinion, the best stories (both in fiction and in the real world) revolve around interesting people, rather than events.
Q2) Is writer’s block ever a problem for you? What do you do to avoid it?
I don't suffer from writer's block, but I sometimes get a case of "writer's LAZY." I often get bored with manuscripts I'm working on and abandon them about 10,000 words in. To me, the best stories - the ones that become books - are the ones that flow out fast and furious. If the story becomes a struggle to tell, I figure maybe it wasn't meant to be told.
Q3) How do you switch off from your journalism work to write your novels?
I don't switch it off at all, actually. I find that my work as a journalist informs my fiction, even if it's on a deeply subconscious level. I am fortunate to have a front row seat for the big issues impacting teenagers today, and those issues often inspire me to write books. However, it is nice to stretch my vocabulary muscles when writing books. News writing requires a very crisp, "just the facts" approach. In my books, I get to be more creative with fancy things like adjectives!
Q4) Do you use any specific writing apps to help write your novels?
I use regular old Microsoft Word. I have tried Scrivener, but it just didn't work for me. I prefer to have my whole mess of a manuscript in one place, rather than compartmentalizing the pieces and having to click around from scene to scene. I do like Scrivener's bulletin board feature though, so I created one in my office - a giant "real life" bulletin board where I pin up scenes, ideas, outlines, etc...
Q5) You’ve said that you write about teens rather than for teens but why did you chose to focus on teenagers in your books?
I think our teen years are the most interesting and influential time in our lives. It's when we come into our own and really decide for ourselves what kind of person we're going to be. It's learning to drive and planning our futures and falling in love... and all those things that make us an "adult" - but yet, we're still young enough to make some pretty huge mistakes. It's a dangerous and thrilling time. Plus, it's an age range we can all relate to even as adults, because we've been there.
Q6) How closely do you work with your editors and publishers to produce the final book?
I have entire characters in my books who wouldn't exist without the input of amazing editors. I rely on them to see not just the words on the page... but also what I'm trying to do with a book, on a big-picture scale... and then help me get it there.
And that's to say nothing of the countless people, from copy editors and marketing masters to artists and design divas, who help package the book so that readers will want to pick it up!
Q7) What advice would you give to young writers?
This is simple. And important.
Don't write to get published. Write for the JOY of it.
Not only will that advice keep you sane, it will also bring out your best work.
Q8) Where do you like to write? Do you slave over a desk or curl up in an armchair?
I always write on my laptop, so I can be mobile. I'll take it outside on a nice day or write at the kitchen counter in the mornings, or at the dining room table at night. The only place I never write is at my big beautiful desk. Haha!
Q9) How much do you think being a good reader makes you a better writer?
Reading is EVERYTHING when it comes to writing. I didn't study literature or fine arts in college. I don't know the "rules" of novel writing. (Are there rules?) But I have always been a voracious reader, and that - more than anything else - taught me how to string words into a sentence and tell a good story.
Q10) What are you reading at the moment?
I just finished Ruin & Rising, the final book in Leigh Bardugo's Grisha trilogy. At the moment I am typing this, I'm in the middle of Grasshopper Jungle, by Andrew Smith.
Q11) After writing about all the food in ‘Butter’, what would you choose for your final meal?
Great question! (One I've thought about a lot.) I would have a massive and eclectic last meal of all my favourites:
Mom's spaghetti, Dad's chili, eggs benedict, pho, chicken vindaloo, Cheez-Its, cowboy caviar, chocolate-covered fruit, and a Whitey's Chocolate Peanut Butter Revel Malt!!!
Look out for our Dead Ends Writing Competition - coming soon!