I have had the good fortune to have met Erin on Twitter. She is an author, fitness instructor, and a bona fide member of the “Grammar Police.” She flexed her grammar geek muscle as guest on my blog as well as on a million other sites—no, I’m pretty sure she doesn’t need to sleep!
Her YA fantasy novel, The Prophecy, is scheduled to be published by MuseItUp Publishing, November, 2013. Catch a sneak peek on her blog.
Erin has graciously allowed me to interview her.
You are known affectionately as the Passive Voice Hunter and are a member of the Grammar Police. These are fantastic editing skills, but do the “rules” ever get in the way of creativity when you write or do you go into “I’m in creative mode” vs. “I’m in editing/grammar mode?”
Yes, the rules can inhibit my writing. My critique partners’ most frequent comments say, “Too formal.” In trying to avoid breaking grammar rules, I end up sounding stiff and formal, and sometimes my characters sound way older than they are because of it. I’m trying to “loosen up,” particularly in dialogue. I am so thankful for my CPs, who point out my issues so I can fix them before I embarrass myself! Haha!!
I also spend an inordinate amount of time obsessing over sentence structures and flow. For example, I never want to have sentences back to back with the same structure because it sounds choppy. Focusing on that element can sometimes hinder my creativity. I try to tell myself to write and work on the structures later. The left and right sides of my brain war with one another constantly! LOL!
I read your account of the day you got the email from MuseItUp telling you got a publishing contract, and you started jumping up and down screaming in the middle of a pet store (see this very amusing story here). There is so much that happens between typing ‘The End’ and the day you got the email. Tells us about this journey.
The idea for The Prophecy came to me one night while I watched a movie. Literally, the story just popped into my brain. I emailed my friends a synopsis of my idea (which ended up being my query letter) to see if they would find it interesting. They all freaked out, in a good way, so I started writing the novel. I became so engrossed I wrote all three books in three months. My friends became my story sounding board, and each developed a very specific function which contributed immensely to the creation of The Prophecy (I call them The Dream Team). You can read about them and their contributions on my blog here. After the excitement of creation came the difficult revising and editing period. I thought I had the book ready to go, so I started submitting. I received an exciting amount of interest in the book. While not all of those contacts turned into something, I learned more and more with each interaction. Some agents/publishers even offered me very thorough feedback. Based on that, I ended up revising The Prophecyagain. My friend Danielle said, “I thought it was great the first time, but it’s even better now.” That rewrite got me to the editorial board for two publishers, and I ended up with a MuseItUp contract. Now I’ve started a whole new chapter learning the “business” side of writing, which is more complex than I realized. I’m always learning though, and I love that!
If you got to choose a theme song for your book, what would it be? Who would star it in if it were made into a movie?
The theme song for The Prophecy would be “I Won’t Give Up” by Jason Mraz. I listened to that song a thousand times while writing the book, and I listened to it a lot during editing too. The second book also has a theme song, but I can’t reveal that just yet. Heehee! ;)
As far as the movie, I totally have the ENTIRE cast picked out. My Dream Team and I spent many hours carefully compiling this list of people. LOL! However, several of my book blogger friends on Twitter (I’m looking at you in particular, Jack) told me readers don’t like authors to reveal their cast lists because they want to create their own picture of the character without an influence. In order to not be too vague, I will tell you I want Joe Manganiello to play one of the adult characters. I love Alcide in True Blood! #PackMaster? Um, yes, please! ;)
Personally for raw, unfiltered writing I prefer my hammock, coffee or beer--depending on the time, and headset in, music cranked. But for editing I like quiet and often read aloud. Tell me about your writing process and preferred environment.
I wrote most of The Prophecy sitting in my bed or on the couch, though I vastly prefer my bed. I like to get my Diet Pepsi with Lime (caffeine helps with my ADD) and a small container of Enjoy Life chocolate mega chunks (I’m lactose and soy intolerant) then burrow in the covers and write. Sometimes I listen to music and sometimes I prefer silence. Regardless, I don’t want anyone to talk to me. I have ADD and am easily distractible. My proofreaders would always say, “You have this whole long section where it’s perfect then this chunk where there are twenty mistakes all together.” I say, “That’s probably the part where someone started talking to me!” Haha!!
Tell us about your acting career. What have you done and are you a triple threat (i.e. can you sing, dance, and act)?
Sadly, I am not a triple threat. LOL! I can’t carry a tune in a bucket. As for dancing, I try, but I can’t say I’m good at that either (though I rock out the chicken dance and once broke out in a running man that got me massive applause). I leave the dancing up to Dream Team member, Kim Sharp (she’s also the photographer of my awesome author photo). I once wrote a dance into one of our plays that lasted 6 ½ minutes. To this day, Kim jokes I tried to kill her… ;)
I’ve always been into acting. I participated in theater all through school, even earning the lead in the class play my senior year. When I got to college, I wanted to major in theater, but my parents weren’t too keen on that. I ended up taking a lot of classes with theater professors, so I got roles in plays. Eventually, I went on to start a theater group that performed a family show once a month at our local theater. I played a recurring character named Agnes Finkenhoffer, the biggest nerd in school, and directed the shows. At Christmas time each year, I wrote and directed a play full of children (much harder than directing adults). I definitely miss Agnes, but a little part of her nerdom lives inside me! ;)
In my very active imagination, I one day play Rizzo from Grease. I have all her songs memorized in case Broadway calls. I’ve always been cast as “the good girl,” so I REALLY want to play a “bad girl.”
Advice for aspiring writers? Mistakes to avoid or something they absolutely MUST do?
For aspiring writers, my best advice…write and read A LOT. You need to read so you know what’s good and what’s bad. You also want to be able to interact with your fan base and discuss books that interest them. If you write YA, read YA all the time. If you write romance, read romance all the time. Start to notice what you like and don’t like stylistically and creatively. And you can’t be a writer if you don’t write. Write even if you don’t feel like it or don’t feel inspired. I took three years to write my first novel (an adult historical fiction that may never see the light of day), but I kept plugging along.
Finally, my biggest piece of advice…expect rejection (probably a lot) but NEVER GIVE UP!
Now for the fun stuff!
iPhone or Android?
I have an iPhone, but I prefer Android. As an artist, I find the iPhone restrictive and like the freedom of the Android platform. ;)
If you could go to sleep at home and wake up anywhere in the world. Where would you go?
Hawaii. First of all, it’s gorgeous, but more importantly, there are no snakes. I’m seriously phobic about snakes, and the idea that they don’t exist somewhere pleases me to no end.
Say you have multiple personalities—maybe you do? Perhaps I could interview them individually?--Tell me about them.
There are the many versions of Erin depending on what “hat” I have to wear. The real true Erin is an energetic dreamer. If I could spend all day in la-la land, I would. But then there is Task Master Erin. She gets the stuff done. She kicks dreamer Erin in the butt and makes things happen. There is Social Erin. This part of me loves to be around people. Engaging and talking with others gives me a natural high. LOL! There is also Spazzball Erin. She comes out when Dreamer Erin and Task Master Erin are in conflict. In this mode, I run around like a chicken with its head cut off. This Erin is the least liked of all the Erins.
If you could spend a day with any person from any time in history, including now, who would it be and what would you want to do?
I would totally spend time with Shakespeare. In college, I took a class dedicated to Shakespeare’s tragedies. This professor knew Shakespearean tragedies inside and out. One thing he said that always stuck with me, “Shakespeare had to have been a people watcher. He observed people in-depth—knew what they loved, what they hated, what made them tick. It’s all there in his writing.” That comment always stuck with me. So, I’d love to people watch with Shakespeare and listen to his insights on human nature.
What do you take in your coffee or tea (cream, sugar, milk, bourbon)?
I take nothing because I drink neither. Ahhhhhh!!! LOL! I have tried to like coffee for years, and I finally found one I can stomach. It’s an almond milk (again, lactose intolerant) chocolate mocha latte. In terms of tea, I don’t like it in any way, shape, or form. I think my super Southern Mema (grandma) would gladly revoke my Southern card for not liking sweet tea.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Food and drink wise—Doritos and Coca Cola Classic
TV Show wise—Dance Moms
Is there one thing you do that makes you say, “damn, I’m good!”?
I am the best at wrangling every single grocery bag from the car to the house in one trip. I HATE making two trips, so I will literally load bags from my shoulder to my wrist on both arms and stagger into the house that way. Every time I do it (after I drop the bags, of course…if my arms still work), I raise my arms in the air and shout, “I am She-Ra, Princess of Power.”
What is the best prank you’ve ever played on someone?
I don’t play pranks. Seriously, if I jump out from behind a wall and manage to make someone scream, I feel like a rock star. How sad is that?
If you could go to one concert for any band in history, who would it be?
OMG—you’re so going to laugh… The Monkees. They are so fun! Haha!
That would be so much fun! I remember watching reruns of their show when I was a kid!
Erin, thank you so much for stopping by and letting us get to know you!
Learn more about Erin and her upcoming YA fantasy novel, The Prophecy:
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and visit her website www.erinalbertbooks.com.