Alexandra, what's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?
I'm not one for ritual of place. I wrote my first novel, THE CREEPING, sitting in bed, on the couch, at the dining room table, and in the yard staring up at the trees. I began my second novel while staying along the Puget Sound (where A CROOKED LIKENESS takes place) and the remainder in my home office in Northern California. As long as I'm writing somewhere that I can read aloud, I can make it work. I was a theater kid and a fortunate and lasting side effect of this is that I read aloud and with the cadence of the speaker, as though performing, whenever I'm writing. I say this is fortunate because it's be a vital part of my process writing realistic dialogue and teasing out the motivations of characters. If I can embody them in a fleeting moment by getting into character, I can see what they want or need more clearly.
What is particularly vital about my writing schedule is that it's regular and disciplined. I get up early and "go" to work. Some days I read an hour here and there to refresh myself, others it doesn't occur to me to take a breather. I believe in writing my way through any blockage or issues.
I also have habits while I'm in the thick of a novel. When I'm really engaged in the process I go running in the early evening. There's something about being out at dusk and out of breath that knocks thoughts around in my head. I often solve problems this way. Depending on the mood of the pages I'm working on, I listen to music - often the same song or several on repeat.
What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
Write the book you lose yourself in. I know I'm creating a compelling character or story if I'm swept away even while I'm writing. And I think that the advice write what captivates you goes hand in hand with this. It's difficult to lose yourself in a manuscript unless it challenges and fascinates you.
And also, read, read, read. I studied political science as a graduate student and didn't earn an MFA. I didn't take creative writing as an undergraduate; I was entrenched in international relations and regional studies. And while I'm not advocating this path for writers, if you haven't been formally trained (and even if you have been), it makes sense to seek out opportunities of honing your craft on your own. To me, reading is one of the most important things I do to improve my craft.
What are you working on now?
My second YA thriller will be out from Simon & Schuster BFYR the summer of 2016. It's titled A CROOKED LIKENESS and takes place in a small island town in the Pacific Northwest. I'll be sharing a bit more about the plot along with the book cover early this fall. For now I'll say that A CROOKED LIKENESS is about love, blood, and murder.
ABOUT THE BOOKThe Creeping by Alexandra Sirowy
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Twelve years ago Stella and Jeanie vanished while picking strawberries. Stella returned minutes later, with no memory of what happened. Jeanie was never seen or heard from again.
Now Stella is seventeen, and she's over it. She's the lucky one who survived, and sure, the case is still cloaked in mystery—and it's her small town's ugly legacy—but Stella is focused on the coming summer. She's got a great best friend, a hookup with an irresistibly crooked smile, and two months of beach days stretching out before her.
Then along comes a corpse, a little girl who washes up in an ancient cemetery after a mudslide, and who has red hair just like Jeanie did. Suddenly memories of that haunting day begin to return, and when Stella discovers that other red-headed girls have gone missing as well, she begins to suspect that something sinister is at work.
And before the summer ends, Stella will learn the hard way that if you hunt for monsters, you will find them.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alexandra Sirowy was born in Northern California and grew up in Providence, Rhode Island and the San Francisco Bay Area. She attended a women's college as an undergraduate and has a graduate degree in International Studies. She lives in Northern California with her husband. Visit her at alexandrasirowy.com.
Have you had a chance to read THE CREEPING yet? Do you have a regular and disciplined writing schedule? Are you writing a book you lose yourself in?
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