Lisa and I met the way all bibliophiles should meet...at a bookstore. We both worked there and had a connection because not only were we both avid readers, we were also teachers...and we wondered about each other's respective sanity as she taught middle school and I taught high school. My friendship with Lisa reminds me of the friendship I have with my favorite books: I always know that I can pick up the conversation (or the book) and it will be just as intriguing as it ever was. Lisa taught me that there are some really amazing stories out there that are designated as Young Adult that I might not have picked up otherwise...and my life would not be as colorful without those stories. She also inspired me to start a blog.
I started my blog (michellesodaro.wordpress.com) as a way to talk to my readers (though at the time I started it, I didn't have my book published) about the things I think about as a writer, the questions I have, the process I go through when I am taking a story that exists only in my head and putting it in a format that it can exist for others as well. I have had many people (previous students, friends I know in real life, and friends I have made via the internet) tell me that they want to write a book and that my blog helps them. I like the feeling that I get to "talk" to people about writing about being an author. Sometimes I will respond to a quote or a song lyric, sometimes it is a trouble spot in one of my projects, sometimes it is just my thoughts about writing in general. While my blog is only one year in the making, my goal is to keep it going and seeing what it can become.
1. So Michelle, where do your ideas for your stories come from?
Does it sound like I am cheating if I say everywhere? Haha...but honestly my ideas come from my dreams where I might see a snippet of something acted out for my subconscious, my ideas come from bits of conversation that I may or may not be actively involved in (people watching is one of my favorite past times as it helps me make my characters real), and my ideas come from a random question or thought that just appears in my head (what would happen if characters in a book could talk to you, was the premise for Whatever you Make of it, which was the first book I self-published. So, it sounds like I'm cheating, but really anything and anyone could spark a story for me. I've even had stories start because a relationship ended and I start to write about the what ifs...what if he stayed, what if I had said this instead of that...I've joked that writers should come with a warning label that any and all interactions with us could end up in a story.
2. Do you feel like your stories model the books you read the most, or are closer to your life experiences?
Most of the time when I am writing, I try to forget the books I have read and my life experiences, but of course everything plays a role. There are aspects of different characters I have admired in the characters I create, and often I use writing to work through this life experience or that life experience. That is what I wrote my Master's thesis on...the use of writing to work through the things life throws at us. One of the stories I am currently playing with (I call it playing until I am about 10 chapters in because by that time the story has taken hold and has a solid shape) deals with the death of a lover that stems from a similiar experience I went through a couple of years ago. The story will be recognizable for those who went through it with me, but not so much that everyone will see the parallels.
Mostly...I write stories with characters I would like to meet. I write stories that I would like to read.
3. When you begin your stories, do you know how it's all going to end, or do you just write and it all comes out as you write?
Sometimes I know the ending before I have any idea how I am going to get there. Haha. Sometimes it starts at the beginning and sometimes it even starts with a scene in the middle and I have to figure out not only how to get there, but what to do after that scene. That is actually how my the novel I am self-publishing right now started. There was a scene where the prince suggested to Arianna, the heroine, that she could be his mistress. Her reaction was my first meeting with the story idea and when I finally got to the part in the plot where that scene fit in, I was thrilled.
4. Do you set aside time to sit and write every day? Do you fit in writing whenever something strikes you and needs to be written down?
I really try to write every single day. It may be for 20 minutes or it may be for 5 hours, depending on my schedule, but I really try to put pen to paper every day. It is the best of any kinds of vitamin.
5. What made you decide to self publish, and how do you feel that process turned out? Would you recommend it to others? Pros and cons?
I had sent out Whatever you Make of It to a few publishers and had gotten back official rejection letters and realized that the Catch-22 that existed in so many aspects of life was also true with publishing. No one wants to publish your work until you are published. I like that I have the ultimate say with my books. I get to design the cover (with amazing help from people with far more skill than I possess). I get to have the final say on how my words look on paper, how my story looks overall...and I like that. I think that more and more people are going to self-publish and even more than that, I think that more and more people are going to strictly e-publish...though I hope for the sake of us bibliophiles that this is not true and paper-copies of books still exist forever.