Today I am happy to introduce author Cecily Wolfe to my blog. (I also interviewed the character Claud from this book, which you can read here.)
Tell us about your book(s). Is there one in particular you are promoting right now? What is it about?
“A Harvest of Stars” will be released on June 7 as an e-book on Amazon and Smashwords. It is the story of childhood friends Locklyn and Isaiah, who met on the school bus on the first day of kindergarten and have bonded over Isaiah’s patience with Locklyn’s defiance and tough persona, which is a cover for the abuse she suffers at the hand of her stepfather. As they near the end of high school, Isaiah realizes that his love for her, which is obvious to everyone except Lock, means that he can longer stand by and allow the consistent abuse to go on. Helping her, and helping her to help herself, means that both of them, along with Lock’s dying mother, may all be in danger.
How do you come up with the ideas for your writing?
I have vivid dreams, and have had them since childhood. I often have very disturbing nightmares, which may be why I lean towards writing darker stories with characters who either have emotional troubles or have to deal with characters who have such issues. I daydream a lot, as well. Oh, reading everything I can get my hands on helps as well. Sometimes a word looks particularly interesting to me for some reason I can’t figure at the time, and I write it down, and eventually it works its way into a character’s personality or a story. For instance, I saw the word “tithe” yesterday in some capacity, and wrote it down. Not sure why, but I think there is a short story coming from that direction.
Tell us about your writing process. How do you fuel your writing?
I write fiction best in the very early morning before my family is awake and I have to get us off to school and work. It is easy to get distracted by daily life, and I am glad to be a very busy mother and employed in a job I love. I get a lot of comments from people who say, “Oh, I wish I had time to write/read/volunteer” or whatever it is we are discussing. Everyone has the same amount of time, and we all decide how to spend it. If you want to do something badly enough, you will make time to do it. It might not be easy, but it is possible with some work, planning, and dedication.
What inspires you to write?
My characters. They come to me all the time, reminding me to write their stories, and it can be distracting. I have Post-It notes, scraps of paper, used envelopes, whatever I can find to write down bits and pieces of whatever comes to me at the time. My desk is a mess, but it is a wonderful mess. I was invited to participate in an incubator project, wherein the administrators would create ideas for books and I would generate the materials. It sounds fun, but my problem is not ideas. My problem is too many ideas. I have enough ideas to keep me writing for the rest of my life.
What’s the best part of being a writer?
A very fulfilling fantasy life. I am never bored, and I always have company.
Are you a pantser or an outliner? Or a bit of both?
I outline and storyboard, and write lots of notes before I start writing. Inevitably, my characters redirect the story as I go, and I don’t fight them. After all, it is their story, not mine. Sometimes I think I know what is coming and am shocked, surprised, or, as was the case in “A Harvest of Stars,” very upset at what happens. “Very upset” doesn’t even come close to how I felt when a certain character from my short stories showed up and became very important to the story. I was wary of her appearance and what would happen to her, and rightly so. But to deny the characters would make an inauthentic story, and as a writer, my charge is to tell the truth.
What would you like readers to take away from your book?
From “A Harvest of Stars” I would hope that readers would understand how and why someone might be trapped in an abusive relationship, and also how reaching out to others for help is not a sign of weakness, but often a necessary step towards a safer life. Family history, the judgment of others, and a struggle with one’s own sense of self-worth are also dominant in this story.
What inspires your creative process?
The hope that readers will not only be entertained by my stories, but find something to inspire them, or reinforce the idea that they are not alone in whatever situation they are in, by relating to one of my characters.
Are you self published, traditionally published, or a hybrid? Why?
Self-published for novels and novellas, with several short stories and professional and nonfiction pieces traditionally published. I submit to agents and publishers and have been for several years, but author Jamie McGuire has inspired me to move forward to self-publish my novels. I certainly don’t expect the same level of success as she has had, but if I don’t put the stories out there, no one will ever have the chance to read them. It isn’t about money or fame for me. I just want to know that my characters make connections with readers who will find value in the reading experience.
Have you ever had a particularly harsh critique? How did you handle it?
I have never had a harsh critique of my fiction, but my academic work – well, let’s just say that academia is tough. However, taking the criticism and using it to improve my work has led to publication as well as success in my pursuit of several university degrees, which is an accomplishment that has given me confidence in my ability to write in general.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
Read. Eat potato chips. Do whatever my kids want to do for fun – visit museums, travel, swim, visit abandoned places. Read more. Volunteer at our local animal shelter, museum, church, and food bank. It’s a mistake not to say “yes” to everything, and as I always say, I’ll sleep when I’m dead. I’d rather be tired than bored.
What new projects are you working on or are excited about right now?
I am editing my next self-published work, a historical inspirational novel called “Throne of Grace,” which will be available in October. I am also about a quarter of the way through a first draft of a contemporary re-telling of a not-so-popular Henry James novel, which is a crazy soap opera that has been very fun for me, and a sequel to “A Harvest of Stars,” “Starlight.” I have a middle grade fantasy complete and am looking for a traditional publication avenue for it, but I may go ahead and self-publish that, as well as the prequel (which I have storyboarded).
Thanks so much, Cecily, for being here today and for sharing your writing process with us.
Connect with Cecily Wolfe: