by Connie Ward
What made you decide to become a fiction writer?
My first real foray into writing was inspired by a high-school English teacher. As we were leaving for winter break one year, she handed me two books—Douglas Adams’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Helene Hanff’s Q’s Legacy—and told me I had to read them over break and tell her what I thought when I came back. After I got over being mad that I had to do extra work on my vacation, I dove into two of the best books I’ve ever read—completely different but equally vivid and amazing. After the break, I wrote my first short story, and I’ve been writing ever since.
What type of stories do you write? And why?
I write the types of stories I’d want to read. I have eclectic taste—adventure, sci-fi, mysteries and thrillers, nonfiction, romance, even horror—so I tend to genre hop. But I’m fascinated with people who have experienced loss, who are damaged and broken but fight to overcome their pain and not just survive, but thrive. If there’s an overriding theme to what I write, that’s it.
What do your family/friends think about your writing?
I’m blessed to have a very supportive partner, family, friends, and coworkers. I was lucky enough to have my first book, After the Fall, published before my dad passed away. He was always supportive of me, but I was a bit nervous that reading the post-apocalyptic lesbian romance novel penned by his daughter might be a little much for him. His only complaint with the book? That the main character’s father was described as clueless with technology, and that his friends would think I was saying he was clueless!
Where do you get your ideas?
I can be inspired by anything. Sometimes I find myself in the mood to read a particular type of story, and if I can’t find anything that fits the bill, I start to think about what it would look like if I wrote it. That’s how Season of the Wolf came to be. Other times, an idea just pops into my head and my brain runs with it, which is what happened with After the Fall.
How do you write; do you plan everything out or just write?
My instinct is to just write—to take an idea I have forming in my head and follow it wherever it takes me. But a good story requires planning. Narratives are a progression of plot points and emotions, and it’s important to understand in advance how each step of your story will build upon the previous one. That’s not to say you can’t change things along the way—I often find as I’m writing that something I planned doesn’t quite work, or I need to add more or move things around. But when you plan, you generally avoid writing yourself into inescapable corners.
What makes Season of The Wolf special to you?
I was part way into writing Season of the Wolf when my dad got sick. He was my rock, and the best man I have ever known. Writing took a backseat while he was sick, and for many months after his death. But when I finally was able to write again, everything that had happened with my dad and the things I was feeling connected me in an unexpected way to my characters. There is a scene toward the end of the book that is very much in honor of my dad, a final good-bye that I didn’t have a chance to say. And the whole book is dedicated to him, so it will always be very special to me.
How much of yourself and the people you know are in your characters?
There’s always a little of me in everything I write, but how much is inspired by me, my life, or the people in it differs. After the Fall is a work of fiction, but it also has a number of elements inspired by my life and the people closest to me. In many ways, it pays homage to my family. Season of the Wolf is completely different. The characters are nothing like anyone I know, especially Billy. I thankfully have never met anyone like him, ever! At least…not that I know of—scary thought.
Which gay/lesbian authors inspired you the most? Do you have a favorite
of this author(s)?
There are many authors whose work inspires me in different ways: to be more creative, to find better words, to dig deeper and think bigger. I take inspiration wherever I can find it.
Do you have any suggestions for new writers?
Just write. You don’t have to be published to be a writer, but you do have to write. During the nearly three years it took me to write and edit After the Fall, when I would get frustrated by how long it was taking or how bad I felt the writing was, my partner would say, “Just finish the book. Even if it never gets published, you’ll have written a book. How many people can say that?” Also, I would tell new writers: be true to your own process, whatever that process is. I don’t work well when I feel like I must do things in a certain way or in a certain time—it’s too constraining, and it robs me of creative energy. Don’t feel like you have to follow anyone’s rules but your own.
When you’re not writing what do you do for fun?
I have some hobbies—lately I’ve been really into making music mash-ups, though I’m not very good at it—but between work and writing, I don’t have a ton of free time. Mostly I enjoy spending time with my partner. We spent about five years apart while she was in school, and we’re finally now living back together, which is such a blessing. So mostly right now I’m just having fun with her, getting into adventures or just hanging out at home.
Which is the favorite of the books/stories you’ve written and why?
Each one is special for different reasons. After the Fall will always be a favorite because it was my first novel, and in many ways it is a reflection of my family. Season of the Wolf is a favorite as well, for so many reasons. I absolutely love the characters in this story, and the story itself, but it’s also special because of the connection with my dad. But probably the favorite thing I’ve ever written is a short story that’s never been published, called “January.” It is a deeply personal story, and it forced me to push myself as a writer.