What if you're ready to take the classic advice “write what you know” to a whole new level by incorporating personal information about yourself or your family in your next book. What are some techniques you’ve discovered for opening yourself up to readers in such a way?
For me it was very easy; I’ve always been a “wear your heart on your sleeve” kind of gal. However, not everyone is able to share the darkest parts of their past. I recommend beginning with a journal. Writing is so therapeutic, and there is a certain amount of freedom when you know that others might not ever see it. It’s also important to realize that your story is valuable; there was a lesson in it for you and there is probably a lesson it in for others as well.
Have you found it different to write a memoir-based YA than a more straight fiction book? If so, has it been easier or more difficult?
I would say it’s both, Michelle. It is easier because I don’t have to make the story up in my head; the characters, settings and events are all there. Because of that, though, you don’t have as much creative freedom when writing a memoir-based piece. There are also issues with a memoir-based piece that you don’t have worry about with straight fiction: Am I going to upset somebody? Is my family going to be okay with this? Should I use real names or pseudonyms? These questions won’t matter if you are writing only for yourself, but I tell you, the writing bug is powerful. Once you get started, you will find yourself wanting to go for publication, so be sure to think of these things before you get in too deep.
What inspired you to write a memoir-based YA?
Basically, I knew I had a story to tell. The main goal of sharing my story has always been to stop one, JUST ONE, young lady from making the same mistakes that I made. It was through the support of some friends that I put green pen to paper and turned a 12-page term paper into the work in progress that I am calling Tough Love.
What advice would you give other authors who would like to write memoirs or memoir-based fiction?
As I stated above, it might be best to begin with a journal. If you already have one established, search it for ideas, for places in which you can incorporate more details. If you have never started one, now’s the time. It doesn’t have to be fancy—heck, it can be a spiral notebook; what matters is the content, not the package. Another idea is get a book of writing prompts such as The Write Brain Workbook. It is full of fun and quirky prompts to get you thinking outside of the box a little bit. Also, share your work with one or two friends that you trust. Remember, this is your life we are talking about, a life that might be filled with secrets you aren’t ready to share just yet. Start small and go from there.
What is one of the favorite excerpts from/parts of your book?
It’s funny; my favorite chapter was also one of the hardest to write. It is currently the fourth chapter of Tough Love, called Shutting Down. Not only does it deal with the emotions I felt upon discovering that my school would be closing but also the emotional shut down I experienced after being molested. It was quite difficult to face those memories, yet I am very proud of the chapter.
Thank you very much for stopping by Bird's-eye View today, Marcie!
If you'd like to be a guest blogger on Bird's-eye View or participate in a book review/author interview, I hope you'll let me know. My e-mail address is mefayard(at)yahoo(dot)com.