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 Candace Ganger, a mother, blogger, and contributing writer for sites like Teen Vogue, TWLOHA, Bustle, Romper, XO Jane & Hello Giggles. She’s also an obsessive marathoner and continual worrier (yay!). Her debut YA novel, THE INEVITABLE COLLISION OF BIRDIE & BASH, will be out via St. Martin’s Griffin July 25th, 2017. Aside from having past lives as a singer, nanotechnology website editor, and world’s worst* vacuum sales rep, she’s also ghostwritten hundreds of projects for companies, best-selling fiction and award-winning nonfiction authors alike.
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 did. The inciting incident is loosely based on a tragedy that struck my family in 1979. There’s a newspaper clipping of the accident that’s always haunted me so I knew I had to re-write this story in a way that honors those affected by the tragedy. There came a day the idea wouldn’t leave me alone so I started tracking the skeletal bits of information and finally, sat down and with the opening line and a clear visual of the person speaking it, I sat down and wrote. That line will be in the book.
Once the original concept existed, how did you build a plot around it?
Surprisingly, I had no trouble with this story even in the early draft. And though things changed a bit from that draft, the characters came to me fully developed in a flash. They already had these nuances I couldn’t ignore so really, I tried to listen to what they told me. I’ve never had this happen before or since with any other story. I attribute this to the core of the story burning a hole in my soul. Like if I didn’t write it in this way, my family could maybe never heal.
Have you ever had the plot firmly in place, only to find it changing as the story moved from your mind to paper?
Yes. In fact, I had to cut a whole thread after a reader (an agent, actually) pointed out some things to strengthen it. I revised the entire book in 3 days and have barely touched it since (aside from a few editorial fixes). The biggest thing for me to let go of, though, is the changing of my ending. I felt it should go one way, while the end result will have something different. Perhaps that will be released separately at some point ☺
Do story ideas come to you often, or is fresh material hard to come by?
Oh, gosh. This is a running joke with everyone who works with me. I always have a million ideas going on at once but because of my OCD and anxiety, I have difficulty making decisions so I need someone to step in and say “listen—you’re going to work on this now, and this next.” Otherwise, I’ll start several projects that may or may not make it to the end. Like right now, I have 5 projects happening. I like to stay busy to keep up with my brain and writing helps me calm the voices.
How do you choose which story to write next, if you’ve got more than one percolating?
Again, I basically have to have someone tell me which one to focus on. Sometimes there’s a story eating at me for some time. Maybe it’s only a general idea or a piece of the puzzle so I’ll stew about it for days, weeks, months even, until I feel it complete enough to sit down and devote my full attention to. I write a wide range of things so I’m never lacking for a subject (just the ability to commit)!
I always, always, always empty my bladder before I start writing. Nothing stops short a burst creativity like a burst of urine. Do you have any “musts” before you sit down to write?
I like The Food Network on TV as background noise. A latte is preferred and my water. Other than that, if my youngest (4 yo) is napping or at pre-k and my eldest (9 yo) is keeping busy, I’m good to go.