Inspiration is a funny thing. It can come to us like a lightning bolt, through the lyrics of a song, or in the fog of a dream. Ask any writer where their stories come from and you’ll get a myriad of answers, and in that vein I created the WHAT (What the Hell Are you Thinking?) interview. Always including in the WHAT is one random question to really dig down into the interviewees mind, and probably supply some illumination into my own as well.
Today’s guest for the WHAT is Stephanie Elliot, author SAD PERFECT, which was inspired by her own daughter’s journey with ARFID, Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder. She has written for a variety of websites and magazines and has been a passionate advocate of other authors by promoting their books on the Internet for years. She has been, or still is, all of the following: a book reviewer, an anonymous parenting columnist, a mommy blogger, an editor, a professional napper, a reformed Diet Coke drinker, a gecko breeder and the author of three self-published novels.
Ideas for our books can come from just about anywhere, and sometimes even we can’t pinpoint exactly how or why. Did you have a specific origin point for your book?
I didn’t really think, “Oh I’m going to write this book.” In fact I wasn’t even thinking of writing YA. I was in the middle of writing women’s fiction. My daughter had met a boy in a very interesting way, a sort of meet-cute, and I thought I would write a vignette about the way they met, maybe a quick one-page scene. And from there, I kept writing for three months.
Once the original concept existed, how did you build a plot around it?
Sad Perfect is loosely based on my daughter’s eating disorder, ARFID (Avoidant /Restrictive Food Intake Disorder), her therapy, and her recovery so that was the basis for the plot.
Have you ever had the plot firmly in place, only to find it changing as the story moved from your mind to paper?
Yes, but I don’t ever go in to a writing session expecting my plot to stay the same. I don’t plan to stick with everything I have in my mind—that would be pretty boring for me. Since I’m what they call a pantser, I go where the story takes me. It’s more fun that way, also a lot more surprising.
Do story ideas come to you often, or is fresh material hard to come by?
I think of story ideas all of the time. The hardest part for me is sitting down to write them. I have four story ideas on paper and in my head right now that I could sit down and get working on. Am I sitting down and working on them? No. I’m on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram! I hate social media! I love social media!
How do you choose which story to write next, if you’ve got more than one percolating?
I either talk with my agent (who is also YOUR agent and a wonderful sounding board!), or I work on the one that I have fleshed out in my mind the best. Which is usually the one where the most characters are talking to me.
I usually have a cat or two with me while I write. They’re good for a pet if I need a moment away from the screen, and don’t seem to mind if I ignore them completely as long as I’m sharing body heat. Do you have a writing companion?
Facebook and Twitter, but I hate them! LOL! But seriously though, The Swanky Seventeens debut writing group has been a lifesaver in this journey. The authors are so supportive and motivating when I need someone to get me moving on my work in progress, or when I’m feeling down about something. They are my current companions in this crazy journey! But lucky for them, I don’t ask to pet any of them!