Ashely Craig and Elizabeth Westcoat Interview

author interviews!

Hello my fellow little munchkins! How are you all doing? I am doing well. So there is an Anthology that I am reading and interviewing the authors. However, since there is so many authors I don’t feel so comfortable in putting them all in the same blog posts and making it super huge but instead in a couple spread out blog posts which I hope you are all okay with.

Anyways, why don’t we get into the interviews?


Ashely Craig Interview

What made you want to write this book?

Fairytales and folklore have always fascinated me. When I saw Crystal Peake’s competition for folklore retellings, the topic immediately called to me.

Usually, stories are told from the “hero” or “good guy’s” perspective. But the problem with that is no character ever believes themselves to be the “the villain” or the “bad guy.” The characters always do what they believe is right, even if others don’t necessarily feel the same way. One person’s hero could easily be another person’s villain.

I wrote “From the Dark Side: Rumpelstiltskin” from Rumpelstiltskin’s perspective to give some insight into that particular “villain’s” motivations.

If you could tell your younger writing self something, what would it be?

Sometimes life gets in the way, but keep writing!

Do you believe in writer’s block?

It happens sometimes.

I believe it’s possible to get stuck on a certain idea — but when that happens the writer should either 1) insert a placeholder and move on to the next section when possible, or 2) put that piece aside and work on something else for a while.

For me, if I’m completely stuck, the trick is to set aside the piece I’m stuck on and write as much as I can on other topics to get the ideas flowing.

My advice is to find a random writing prompt or a quick topic on your favorite ideas website (here’s looking at you, Pinterest <3) and work on that piece, then later go back to the idea you were stuck on. Sometimes it can help you see things from a different angle.

What is your writing process like?

I’m a “plantser” — a mix between a “plotter” and a “pantser.” I plot a bare-minimum outline that contains a few necessary main events then make up smaller details/occurrences  as I go (aka “fly by the seat of my pants”). I think it’s important to know where I want to start and where I want to finish, but the in-between becomes a spontaneous journey.

What advice do you have for other writers?

Get that first draft on paper, even if it’s awful!

The first draft won’t be seen by anyone but you. Its purpose is to figure out where you want the story to go. It doesn’t matter if there are typos or if there are literally sections that say “[add something witty here].”

After the first rough draft is done, then you can revise — add scenes, delete scenes, fix typos, and polish it. But don’t worry about editing until that first rough draft is done.

Let your second draft “breathe” for a few weeks (or months) once it’s done, whenever possible, then go back and read/revise with a fresh perspective. You’ll be amazed by what you missed in the first round of revisions.

One other tip I find valuable, especially for writing books more so than short stories, is to keep a separate “notes” document for each storyline where you can keep track of names, places, important details to remember, etc. as the story progresses. It’s great to have that reference if you are working on multiple stories at once or if you plan to sit it aside to let it “breathe” for a while.

How much research do you do for your books?

A lot! I try to make my pieces as historically accurate as possible.

For example, I wouldn’t use matches in a story set before 1860-ish because they weren’t developed until around then — and even those were different from the matches we know today. Or I wouldn’t use a slang word like “hangry” in a non-contemporary setting because that wasn’t a common word back then.

Granted, I do take liberties with magical elements that aren’t necessarily historically accurate, but that’s the fun part of magical fiction!

For Rumpelstiltskin, I researched several different versions of the original folk story. I tried to keep the important, original story elements intact while also creating a new twist.

Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand?

This may surprise you — I wrote Rumpelstiltskin almost entirely on my smartphone! I have a laptop I also use, but for convenience and portability I often just use the Google Docs app via my phone. I write a lot that way, which just makes sense for me because 1) my phone is always with me, 2) I don’t have to worry about keeping track of another electronic device, and 3) Google Docs lets me easily pick up where I left off if I want to use my laptop instead.

How can your readers discover more about you and your work?

Check out my website at https://www.ashleycraigauthor.com! I previously self published a young adult fantasy novel called “Malaki Mayhem,” which is linked on the website. I also run a blog on there, and readers can find links to my social media accounts on the “About” page.


Elizabeth Westcoat

If you could tell your younger writing self something, what would it be?

I would tell my younger self to invest in her talent and not sell herself short. I spent a lot of time telling myself that I needed to focus on something more secure instead of trying to be a writer. Not necessarily bad advice, but it did cause me to push my writing dreams aside for a long time. I’m in my late 20s now and I do still feel like I have my whole life ahead of me, which is awesome! There is so much I still want to do with my writing, and I’m at a point where I’m ready to invest time into getting my work out there. But I do have regrets about waiting so long to take myself seriously as a writer. 

 Have you ever had difficulty coming up with an idea for your story?

I usually don’t have a hard time coming up with ideas, but the little plot details stump me sometimes. I’ll have a really clear vision for the premise and the characters, but it takes a lot more time and careful planning for me to figure out the story I’m going to tell with them.

While you were editing your book what were some thoughts that were going through your mind?

I was mainly thinking about the pacing and flow of the story, as well as making sure my word choices conveyed the tone I wanted. I wrote Gifts and Curses over a year ago and my skill has grown since then, so I read it now and see even more edits I would make. I’ve heard it said that no writer ever views their work as fully complete, and now I can see why. But I am very happy with the final product! It reminds me of the writer I was at that time, which is really fun to look back on.

 What is your writing process like?

Right now I have to balance writing with my full-time job, which is very demanding and requires most of my mental and emotional energy. So writing is often squeezed into my lunch breaks and after work if I’m able. My process is probably really different than someone who writes for a living. I spend a lot of time fantasizing about the story idea, building the world in my mind and just sort of getting a feel for it, before I ever start writing. And then the actual getting words onto paper gets done whenever I can find a spare moment. I used to edit as I went along, but now I’ve found that inhibits me too much, so I just pour the words out and then sort through them later.

What do you believe is the hardest part of writing?

I find it hard to tap into my characters’ truest selves. It’s easy to get a surface-level understanding of them and how they’ll further the plot. But really getting to the core of who they are, their deepest desires and insecurities, and how all of this is reflected in their actions? That is more difficult, because in order to do that I have to be willing to confront qualities in my characters that I relate to in some way (even if I don’t want to.) Telling the raw truth, even through fiction, requires us as writers to hold a mirror up to ourselves. If we don’t do the tough work of becoming self-aware, how can we be aware of who our characters are and what they’re trying to say?

Any tips on how to go through a dreaded writer’s block? 

For me, writer’s block feels like trying to wring out an empty cloth. Forcing myself to write while in that headspace feels very punishing, which doesn’t work for me. Instead, I try to take some space from writing and fill my cup in other ways. Self-care for me involves spending time in nature, being with friends and family, and watching . Also, just being patient with myself and not beating myself up for taking some time away from writing. I’ve been through writer’s block often enough that I can trust the process, even when it feels like it’s never going to end.

 How can your readers discover more about you and your work?

I’m on Instagram as @ewestcoatwrites, and I have a blog as well. I’m not great at being active on social media, but I’m having fun figuring it out!


 


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