Apologies for the missing post yesterday - I had one of those days where everything went wrong and I had to accept that I am, unfortunately, not Wonder Woman and can't of everything! I hope today's interview makes up for it! Joining me today is Toasha Jiordano, a member of my online writing group, Scribophile. Welcome Toasha!
1) To start with, could you introduce yourself and tell us about your current project?
My name is Toasha Jiordano. I’ve been writing for…ever, mainly ghostwriting. I decided to take a break and work on a trilogy of my own. Epoch is a YA Dystopian SciFi story that I’ve been mulling over for a few years now. It’s very close to my heart and I’m so happy to be finally dedicating my time to it.
2) Would you mind sharing an excerpt with us, or a favourite quote?
The opening line of the book is “I was ten the first time I saw someone glitch out and die.” To me that about sums it up. I had that line before I had much of anything else. And it’s what carries me through any struggles with POV or pacing or theme.
3) What inspired you to write this story?
I was actually working on a ghostwriting job. A different YA piece, more on the fantasy side. The client usually has a spark of idea or a theme he wants portrayed and then I have free reign. On this particular story his only guideline was to keep it light, no killing. Well, during my brainstorm for that book, the entire trilogy of Epoch flashed through my head like a movie. The only problem was, I pretty much kill the entire planet. Sooo it wasn’t a good fit for his book, but I quickly outlined it and shelved it for when I had time…which is now.
4) Do you have any other projects on the sidelines?
Aside from the other 2 books in Epoch, I have a ton of books waiting to be written in all genres. One that I’m very passionate about is a True Crime style book about the Darlie Routier case. For anyone who doesn’t know, her two boys were killed in June 1996 in Texas and she was later arrested for it. She now sits on Death Row. I’ve always thought she was innocent, and wanted to explore the case more.
5) What draws you to fantasy? Have you always been drawn to it?
I kind of shied away from Fantasy for a long time. It wasn’t until my early twenties that I first picked up a Fantasy book. I don’t remember the title now, but it was about a boy who could speak telepathically with his baby brother in the womb. They were aliens and there was a lot of other stuff going on, but that part stuck with me. So I started reading more and fell in love with it. I want to be whisked away to this (believable) magic kingdom and fall in love or hate with some amazing characters.
6) Who/what is your writing inspiration?
My favorite author is Frank McCourt. I read “Angela’s Ashes” a couple years after it came out, completely by accident. I was in line at the grocery store and the cover caught my eye. I took it home and read it in one day. I couldn’t put it down. I jumped in knowing nothing at all about it, which I love to do, and it became my all-time favorite book.
Other than that, I write because it’s an obsession. People say write what you want to read and I truly believe that. I spent years writing what other people wanted me to write and that was a struggle to feel the inspiration in their dream project. Now I get to do it with mine. I don’t do it with illusions of grandeur to be the next Stephen King or George R.R. Martin. It’s just something that I have to do or I’ll go crazy.
7) What do you do if inspiration just won't come?
It depends on where I am in the process. There are times when I ‘pants’ my stories. Usually they come in flashes like Epoch did, so I re-watch it in my head to see where I got stuck. That usually helps. If it’s something that I’ve written an outline for and planned, like a big project or a ghostwriting job, I will refer back to the outline. It’s most likely something that I neglected to figure out. It will get me and I’ll have to fix it right then.
If you’re staring at the blank page and don’t know what to write at all, I say start freewriting. Just type whatever’s coming to your mind. It will be nonsense, but it will get your fingers moving. Once they get warmed up, you’d be surprised how easily the work flows after that. I usually hate the first paragraph or so of anything I write when I first sit back down. You have to get going before the story comes alive. So I go in knowing that I will fix it later and just start typing.
8) Which part of the writing process is your favourite, and which part do you dread?
I love every part of it. I love to see a blank copy of my outline template. I love imagining the characters talking to each other, or wondering what they’d do in certain situations. I love to research different aspects of my novels. This trilogy has a lot of science in it, but since the character starts out young, I’m not loading it up with facts and figures. But the science behind it has to be strong. So I got to learn about a lot of different things this time around. Of course we all love typing the proverbial ‘The End’ and the satisfaction that comes with knowing you did it. I even like editing. It’s hard to get over the hubris that your first draft wasn’t perfect. But once over that hurdle you can get pretty ruthless. I’ve created whole characters, chapters, and scenes during an edit before. Once you’ve written the ending, you can tweak the beginning.
9) What is your number one distraction?
Aside from Scrib, Nano, and Facebook (The Unholy Trinity)… My biggest distraction is life. There’s always an excuse. A rough day at work makes it impossible to concentrate on writing during my lunch break. This kid has to go here and then that one has to go there. My son just came to visit with my first grandbaby right in time for Nano, so that’s a great excuse! And my research. I will need to know one little thing for one line of a book and wake up hours later knowing every single thing about that subject…only to cut the line in the edit.
10) Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I’m actually both. I love to pants short stories. On larger projects like Epoch, even when they come to me in instant flashes, I like to outline and have everything accounted for before I write. By the middle or end (especially the 2nd and 3rd books which are very rough outlines) it’s just themes and emotions and gibberish. But it will get worked out.
11) Tea or coffee?
I’m going to say coffee but with a caveat. I don’t like the taste of coffee. I doctor it with as much cream and sugar as I can fit in the cup. I just need the caffeine. However, I drink a ton of sweet tea also. You’d get kicked out of South Carolina for not liking tea.
12) What are the most important three things you've learned about writing, editing or publishing (or all of the above!) since you started your journey?
Writing – Just do it. Don’t be scared. Don’t feel insecure or worry about what people will think. If you like writing then write.
Editing – Walking away for a month or so really does help. I wrote the first chapter or so of Epoch because I had to get it out. But I got busy with the ghostwriting job and had to put it away. Then when I came back over a year later, I had fresh eyes and fixed some things. I even changed the sex of my main character! I totally had to change all the ‘he’s to ‘she’s. It was liberating to go back through the book rethinking how the relationships change now that I’m talking about a little girl.
Publishing – There’s no one right way. Everyone’s going back and forth about Traditional vs Self. I think it really doesn’t matter. Do whichever is right for you. However, stay away from vanity publishers. Why pay someone thousands of dollars to publish your book for you? Self-publish if you’re willing to put the money into it. Or try a new concept like Unbound, where they crowdfund your book. You need to have a following, but if the story is good, they will come.
13) What's your favourite quote on writing
In Stephen King’s book On Writing he’s talking about boring passive voice and give an example of a horrible piece of writing. I don’t remember what the text of the example was but after that he said “Who farted?” I laughed so hard at that. I know, immature. But it summed up the lesson he was trying to teach perfectly, and I totally remember it years later. So it worked.
14) What is the best piece of advice you've received?
I’d shelved Epoch for a couple years overall. Things just kept coming up. I’d talk about it and probably drove my family nuts. But I wasn’t writing. One day my youngest told me that I needed to stop talking and write. She said that if I don’t get Epoch done someone else will write it and get it published and I’ll be crushed.
From the mouths of babes.
15) Where else can we connect with you?
I’m horrible at marketing myself. So I really have to work on keeping up with blogs and social media. But I’m working on it. And if you want to get updates on Epoch or other projects, I’ll be here:
Facebook - www.facebook.com/TheWriteStuff77
Goodreads - www.goodreads.com/user/show/24756284-mommywrites
Twitter - twitter.com/toasha1004