By Connie Ward
What made you decide to become a fiction writer?
I’ve always loved books. As a kid, I would read anything I could get my hands on. I was just fascinated with the way authors could create these entire, imaginary worlds, and so of course I had to try it out for myself. It became something that I did for fun, something to keep me amused on a rainy day or when my friends couldn’t come out to play.
It wasn’t until I was in high school that I started to take my writing seriously. Up until then it was just a hobby, and I never really considered that it could be more than that. But I think that wanting to become a writer was the inevitable next step.
I’d spent so many years being so captivated by books that I’d read and loved, and almost as many years writing stories of my own that, naturally, I started to think about publishing my own work. My school offered a couple of writing classes, which of course I took. I tried to learn as much as I could about writing, about style and technique. And I wrote, I filled notebooks with story after story. For years. Until finally I felt like I was ready, that I had a story worth publishing.
What type of stories do you write?
I’ve played around with various genres, but the majority of my stories are young-adult ones. Most of them are coming-of-age type stories about friendships, families, and romances.
I like writing about the dynamics between people. Whether it’s friends, siblings, lovers, I like to explore the relationships by setting up a scenario for my characters and then letting it all play out.
What do your family/friends think about your writing?
I think they are, for the most part, bemused by it. None of them are writers, so they don’t really get why I choose to hole myself away in my apartment for hours on a nice day, but they’re supportive.
Where do you get your ideas?
It’s hard to pinpoint, exactly, where an idea comes from. It can be anything, a song lyric that strikes a chord, a quote from a book or movie, something said in conversation, or sometimes seemingly from nowhere at all.
I’ve taken concepts or themes from an older, abandoned piece of work and taken them in a new direction and ended up with an entirely different story. And I’ve sat down in front of my computer without a single idea in my head and just started writing.
How do you write; do you plan everything out or just write?
I don’t do much in the way of planning. Most of the time I’ll start a story with an opening line and a vague idea of what it’s going to be about. I don’t usually know what’s going to happen in a chapter until I’m actually writing it.
What makes Everything Changes special to you?
Everything Changes is my first published novel. So, that’s special. Seriously though, Everything Changes was a labor of love for me. It took me almost ten years to complete. I wrote the first draft when I was in my early twenties but was never completely satisfied with it. I didn’t know how to fix it so I put it aside and moved on to other projects. I kept going back to it though, tweaking it, trying to get it right. Seeing it in print, after so many years, and so much time spent working on it, is incredibly gratifying.
How much of yourself and the people you know are in your characters?
I try not to mirror myself or people in my life in the characters. I try to make the characters as unique to themselves as I can. I want the relationships and interactions within the story to be genuine to the characters and the situations they’re in. And I don’t think I could do that if I were modeling a character after someone in my own life.
Sometimes, traits that I recognize in myself or in a friend will pop up. It’s inevitable, but it’s never a conscious decision to put them in there.
Which gay/lesbian authors inspired you the most?
The first lesbian author that I ever read was Radclyffe. Up until I started reading her Provincetown series, I wasn’t even aware that gay/lesbian-themed novels even existed. It was an eye- opening experience for me, seeing lesbian characters depicted in print like that.
And it opened up a world of possibilities for me, as a writer, allowing me to be freer in my own writing.
Do you have a favorite of this author(s)?
I think Safe Harbor will always be my favorite of Radclyffe’s novels. It was the first of her novels that I read.
Do you have any suggestions for new writers?
To new writers I would suggest, write as often as you can. Short stories, novels, poems, whatever keeps you feeling passionate about writing. And find yourself a good support system, whether it’s in your real life or online. Surround yourself with fellow writers who will offer honest critiques, support, and encouragement.
When you’re not writing what do you do for fun?
When I’m not writing, I’m probably reading. I’m still as much as a bookworm as I was when I was a kid. I also love to travel. I’ve been all over the world, and there are still so many places that I want to visit. I dabble in photography and am currently attempting to teach myself how to play the guitar.