Monday, September 13, 2010
Not as much as I used to. The more characters I create, the easier it's getting for me to give them personalities that are distinctly different from my own. That being said, a lot of my little quirks or preferences still make their way in now and then.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
The quirkiest thing...that's hard! I don't typically think of myself (or my actions) as quirky. How about the most "un-like me" thing instead? I joined eHarmony in 2002. *Totally* not the kind of thing I'd normally do. My friends--the few to whom I admitted it--thought I was nuts, until I ended up marrying my 100th match. :)
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
It's a toss-up--either 7th grade or 8th. In 7th I wrote my first novel, and in 8th I had a teacher tell me my writing was so mature I could be writing college papers. Both of those convinced me that writing wasn't just something I was good at--it was something *inside* me, a defining characteristic of who I was.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I like books that challenge how I think, that teach me something (without being obvious that it's trying to teach me), and that fire up my own creativity--and that are, of course, suck-me-in entertaining. Some of my favorite authors include Jodi Picoult, Douglas Coupland, William Gibson, and Terry Pratchett.
What other books have you written, whether published or not?
Worlds Collide (Waterbrook 2005) was my first novel, followed in 2006 by Violette Between with the same publisher. This past May Zondervan released my third novel, The Weight of Shadows, and they'll release The Heart of Memory next April. I just turned in the first draft of my sixth novel to David C. Cook, and it will release next September. No clue what title they'll give it, but right now I'm calling it Trouble Child, because it was inspired, in part, by the Joni Mitchell song with the same name.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
I don't do a very good job with that, unfortunately. I'm getting better, though--implementing set work hours and stopping myself from working outside those hours has definitely helped me juggle writing, motherhood, and marriage--and just today I started going through "Your Whole Life" with my friend and fellow author Claudia Mair Burney and a few other women, which is a dieting/discipline/discipleship program. I'm not doing it so much for the dieting part--though I will definitely benefit from the encouragement to eat better and exercise more (or, realistically, *at all*)--but more for the structure that I know I'm going to be creating in my life over the next 12 weeks of the program.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
Sometimes I choose names based on their meaning--the main character's names in Violette Between were all chosen that way. Other times it's by the personality or physical traits that a particular name suggests to me--for example, Rachel's best friend in Reinventing Rachel is named Daphne, a name that suggested to me a tall, willowy woman with a carefree attitude and exotic beauty, and that's just what that character was meant to be.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
Dolphin--I love swimming!
What is your favorite food?
Spinach stuffed pizza from Edwardo's in Chicago. Mmmmmmmmmmm. But when I'm unable to secure a slice--which is pretty much all the time--there are a number of foods that will do the trick--peanut butter and chocolate ice cream, really good French bread and yummy spread cheese, a massive bowl of Cheerios with brown sugar sprinkled on top. (Great, now my mouth is totally watering.)
Ours are, too. What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
There are two things that were equally as difficult to figure out. The first was plotting. Worlds Collide was the first story I ever outlined, which is the main reason why it was also the first decent story I ever actually completed. But the concept of plotting was a shady thing for me. I honestly didn't know there were such things as plotting structures until I heard a 101 level workshop from ACFW. That totally opened my eyes! And when I found Randy Ingermanson's Snowflake Method, my writing life was complete.
The second thing was letting a story tell itself, instead of trying to manhandle it into what I think it needs to be. Reinventing Rachel was an absolute mess, and I had to rewrite it three times because I kept trying to manipulate it. I had a set idea in my head of what I wanted this story to say, and I kept trying to shoehorn it into that mold, and the result was always an unreadable catastrophe. When I finally let go of what *I* wanted the story to be and just let the characters live out their lives to see what happened, that was when it became something people would actually want to read. A lot of that has to do with me being a control freak, and having to learn that God is the one who should have a plan for my books, not me. I'm just the messenger. And while Reinventing Rachel has only been out for a couple weeks, He's already proving that He can and will use my books in incredible ways in readers' lives if I just trust Him to do so.
What advice would you give to an author just starting out?
If you're like me--you've been writing ever since you learned what a sentence was, you got A's on every written assignment you were ever given, your friends even recognize that you're a writer--don't assume you know what you're doing. I thought I knew everything I needed to know to write great books, and then I started reading books on writing and attending conferences. Talk about being humbled! I had to learn that reading voraciously and writing prolifically only gets you so far. Then you need to start actually studying the craft and *working* at it.
Tell us about the featured book.
Reinventing Rachel is about a young woman who experiences a series of tragedies that she thinks God was obligated to protect her from. The fact that He doesn't makes her start doubting if the faith she's lived out since childhood was just a farce. She ends up walking away from it, moving from her home in California to Chicago, and becoming a disciple of her hedonistic friend Daphne, thinking that living by her own rules will at least give her a measure of control over her life and protect her from the kind of hurt she experienced back in California. As you can imagine, things don't work out the way she expects them to.
So many people have done that. This sounds like an interesting story. How can readers find you on the Internet?
I'm all over the place! AlisonStrobel.com is my website, and my husband and I can be found talking about our children's books at DanAndAliMorrow.com.
I'm on Facebook (with both a group page and a personal page) and Twitter (username alisonstrobel--though I'm really bad at remembering to tweet), and when I've got time to kill I'm over on GentleChristianMothers.com learning how to be a better mom to Abby and PJ. (If you're a mom, or planning on ever being a mom, come check it out--I'm Novelmama there.)
Thank you, Alison, for this wonderful peek into your writing world.
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