Monday, September 15, 2014

Writer Interview: Jo M. Coleman!

Joining us for today's Writer Interview, we've got Jo M. Coleman, from Southeastern Arizona!

  Thanks so much for joining us, Jo! We're so glad to have you here this time, and we hope to get you back for a reader interview sometime later. Tell us a little about yourself and what you've written.

Jo M. Coleman: Hey! I'm so glad to be here, and it is honestly my first time doing an interview like this, so that's pretty exciting! Anyways, I grew up in Arizona with lots (and lots and lots) of siblings, and tried to write my first book at 10 years old. It didn't get more than 2 pages, but it was fun drawing up fan art for it. At 14 I really got serious and wrote a book that was a WIP up until I was 17, when I finished it. I have written 2 more novels since then, so 3 in all, two of them are fantasy novels and the other is a Christian Western. I'm currently working on my fourth novel making good use of NanoWrimo 2012! :D

E: How about this for a quick writing challenge. Using a few sentences, how would you paint a description of the setting/your world, (either where you are or where you grew up,) as if you were setting the scene for a book about you?

J: It's that moment when you step outside and the sky stretches so far and blue above you, the sun wrapping you in its warmth. The green is more of a brown, but the air hums with the comforting buzz of june bugs. Clouds dance across the sky in a symphony of pure white beauty, almost as though you could run through them. This is home.
E: Great description, Jo! Sounds like a great place to be.
   So, let's get started. What's your favorite genre/genres, and what do you think really draws you to that/them the most?

J: I absolutely love fantasy. I have read many different genres and I like books from each of them, but overall, I just really love fantasy, especially young adult fantasy. I think what I like about it is that it is pure creativity... creating an entire world/laws/people groups/creatures that don't exist in our world! I love the “royal culture” as well as the idea of virgin land stretching as far as imaginable, forests, plains, mountains, rivers, waterfalls, and hills. Untouched land just waiting for me to revel in its beauty. Plus, I just really, really love dragons and unicorns. :-D And the thought that I could own a White Siberian Tiger.
E: Ooo... I like your description. I think we're on the same page there! Myself, I'd take a regular, orangey tiger. I just love that color!
  What's your most favorite writing related advice?

J: “Write the book that you want to read.” I don't remember where I first heard it, but I have taken it to heart ever since. It is great fodder for ideas and keeping me going in the middle of a work in progress. What is it that I want to read? What book have I wanted to read but have never found one quite like it? Write it myself! I think that's one of the best ways to maintain writerly inspiration (which, like middle school crushes, can be so fickle!), and come up with great ideas and characters! What do I want to read in a book? What character do I wish I'd read before? That is one of the main reasons I did my rewrite of “Beauty and the Beast”, because I'd always wanted to see it done from the Beast's point of view (and there may be some out there, though I haven't read any), so I figured... why not do it myself?
E:  Great advice! And I like how you've really taken it to heart and gotten a great writing attitude out of it. And, yes, that writerly inspiration can be so vanishing when you need it most!

 What is your favorite type of character to write? Why do you think that especially appeals to you?

J: Hmm... I have written quite a few strong women characters, so I think that definitely appeals to me. A woman who will do what needs to be done, but is not afraid to be vulnerable at the end of the day. A woman who fights fiercely, loves devotedly, and dreams big. I guess the reason that particular type of character appeals to me is that I see it as sort of a “larger than life” version of myself – the woman I would hope to be if I were to encounter the situations my characters do. I also like to write a character who, in the face of the right (hard) choice or the wrong (easy) choice, will choose the right! So characters with character! I do also like to write a bad guy that the reader (and I!) really really want to see beaten in the end. Although I do like to make my antagonists sympathetic in some way, they generally are also so far deep in evil that despite feeling sorry for them, you also just want to see them pay for their crimes.
E: Where do you like to get your characters? Do you like to draw off of people you know, other books, or just pull them put of the blue?

J: It's a mash-up. I do like to give every main character of mine an interest that I share with them, because it's one level that I can really add realism to. So, I would make them an artist, or give them a love for reading, or have them be a seamstress. Other elements may be taken from people that I know, or myself, such as that person who's always making silly jokes that nobody laughs at, or the way you just laugh and laugh with someone, or how someone always inadvertently knows how to make every situation completely awkward. 
E: Some writers talk about their characters getting out of control and things happening that they didn't intended to happen; have you ever had this happen?

J: Actually, I don't think I can honestly say this has happened to me! It kinda makes me feel somewhat abnormal... but my characters generally will do what I've set for them to do. I am something of a pantster though, so often the plot will end up going down some random deviation of a rabbit trail and my characters will skip along with it. But I see that as more of a plot deviation leading to character deviation, not really the other way around.
E: How do you write, is it 'start with page one, scene one' and go through it in order; or just "whatever scene pops into your head"
(and that might mean that you have the entire middle of your book written before you even start on the beginning)?

J: A general overview is always in place in my mind before I begin writing, and usually the ending is pretty clear as well. Once I actually begin writing it down, it is completely written in the order it will be read (though I may switch some things around once it is all written down). Unless there is a particular scene in which I have something very specific in mind (such as a piece of dialogue, a section of prose, or the like), and I have to write it down ASAP or else I will forget it. But generally it is written from Chapter One in order through till “The End”.
E: How do you plan your stories' "bones", or do you?

J: I will “Pants” the first draft, just hacking it out however it comes. Then I will sit down for as long as it takes (weeks to months) and write down a solid outline (a friend of mine has written a FANTASTIC book about outlining), then I will begin the rewrite. But I will still end up “pantsing” on some parts even with the solid outline.
E: Have you tried any plotting, outlining, methods; and what works best to your way of thinking?

J: I outline in a notepad with a black pen (Pentel R.S.V.P.). My first draft I will type up (generally during Nanowrimo), then I will write out my outline in a notepad as well as the second draft once the outline is done. After that, I will type up the third draft, print it out and read through to edit. I only just started outlining in January of 2012, and found it was very helpful with my third novel, so that is going to become a solid part of my writing process.

E: What is your worst writing trouble?

J: Finishing what I've started. I really, really hate going back through and editing, so it's been a struggle for me to get that work done! The initial drafts aren't so difficult (I like to start with a blank slate each time I go to write a new draft, just using the previous one as a springboard), but once I have a solid draft and just need to go through with more specific edits rather than total overhaul, it seems really overwhelming to me.
E: What is your worst writing fault? How do you identify and rectify its effects?

J: Procrastination, also named Facebook. :-P I looooove to procrastinate, though not just with writing but just in general. It's a fault in general for sure. I have to set a specific day and time that I will sit down and GET SOME WRITING DONE, and then I have an easier time doing it. Also with writing, I tend to repeat the same words/phrases a lot, I definitely have to keep a regular sharp eye out for that, as it can get very mundane as a reader to be reading the same things over and over.
E: Hey! It's been great having you here! We've so enjoyed learning more about another writer's mental workings! Thanks for participating.

J: Thank you for having me! It's been fun and I'm looking forward to seeing what other writers have to say as well. :-)

1 comment:

Hannah Scheele said...

Hey Joanna! :D
Great interview. Elizabeth asked good questions!
My sisters and I still talk about your Beauty and the Beast story. You have a very vivid, colorful way of writing--it's easy to tell you'e an artist--and so the images of the events really stuck in our heads!
I felt your female characters were a strength, cuz they were sturdy and spirited but also girly. A good combination.
You should do more fairy tales. :)