How did you decide to become a writer?
I’ve always been a writer. I know that sounds cliche, but growing up as a family of five in a two-bedroom apartment makes you desperate for privacy. A journal was the only place I could find that. Oh, and I’ve always been a
big fat liar story teller. When I was a little kid my family thought I’d become a creative genius, or a con-artist. The choice to use “writer” as a job title didn’t happen until I was 27, after I’d decided not to pursue a doctorate in Early Renaissance Lit; after I decided not to take the LSATs. It was right after my first semester of Master’s in Education, when I was laid off from my job at 16 weeks pregnant. I was sitting on the couch wondering who the heck was going to hire a pregnant woman when my husband sat down next to me. What he said next changed my life. “Why don’t you stop pretending. You’re not a lawyer, or a teacher, or an academic. You’re a writer. Until you stop bullshitting yourself that you’re anything else, you’re going to keep searching.”
Wait, you glazed over a whole lot back there. LSATs? Early Renaissance? Tell me more about that.
I think we all have a journey towards figuring out who we really are. Being a writer wasn’t something I’d ever considered a legitimate profession. In fact, I was never encouraged to make a life in the arts. When I was in high school I was a promising young actress, and would have died to go to art school. In my family, however, this wasn’t an option. I did a lot of soul searching. I dabbled in different work paths. The truth is, I quit a lot of things. I could never find the fire.
Have you found it?
Yes. Undoubtedly. Writing is the chance to shape culture. It’s a conversation I get to have with my readers, or my audience. I get goosebumps just thinking about it.
What do you write?
All kinds of things. I journal daily. I write creative non-fiction stories and essays, fiction stories, occasional poetry, plays, and right now I’m working on the first book in a science-magic YA trilogy.
Okay…that’s a lot. What common thread does your writing share?
Short answer: Diversity and Female Empowerment.
Long answer: I think writers whose stories stick to homogeneous characters are lazy. Unless you’re setting the story in a specific homogenous for a reason location, there’s just no excuse. We’re a collection of our experiences, and this is greatly informed by our cultures, and our differences. To exclude these is to be responsible for erasing cultures not shaping them. All of my writing seeks to diversify the cast because it’s both visually beautiful, and makes for more interesting and complex interactions. Isn’t that what life is all about?
I also believe that most YA focuses on teens who are obsessed with love, romance, and getting laid. I mean, those are all big fuels in the fire, but not every teenager/young adult is focused this way. There are bigger goals out there, and I want to show my female characters chasing those kinds of dragons. I like to write dialogues that stray away from the expected conversations, and especially in my plays, I like to offend for purpose.