I realized something today as I was trying to do my taxes (which resulted in me getting angry at the federal government for taking all my hard earned money and not giving it back); I realized that I have a pride problem.
Hello. I'm Whitney and I am prideful.
The thing with my pride is that it is really a matter of principle. Part of why I was so upset that the federal government isn't given me a tax refund this year (because, heaven forbid, I make more money than I previously have!) is because I was going to use that money to pay of my loan. Not only would that result in extra money each month (which I was going to use for something fun, like a cut and color, and a new dress), but I wanted to graduate from college debt free. And here is where my pride comes in. For me, graduating from college debt free did not necessarily mean that I would graduate without having a debt that I would have to find a job and spend however long paying off; instead, it was a matter of pride. I wanted to be able to say that I had graduated debt free. I wanted to show the world (or my small section of it) that I, Whitney, had worked hard and sacrificed and budgeted so that I could be debt free on the day I get my diploma.
Well, I graduate in December (if all goes well, which sometimes it doesn't seem like it will) and, as small as my debt will be, it will still be there.
This isn't the only thing I have a pride problem in, though.
I have been working on a novel. I don't know how good it is; sometimes writing it is boring, so I can't even think of what it would be to read it. It will probably never get published. No one will read it except for my mom (and even that's not a certainty) and yet I am determined to finish it. Not because I think it could be the great American novel, or because I think it will even be a good book. It's pride. I want to finish it because I want to say that I have finished a novel. I have a feeling that true writers write because it is gratifying and feels wonderful to have someone read your writing and somehow be changed because of it. I want the bragging rights. And those aren't even that fabulous! It's not like I published a book, I just finished it!
I don't know how healthy this pride problem is. On one hand, it does urge me to have a goal in mind. I work hard for something. But on the other hand, what am I really getting out of it? What does it show for myself if all I want out of life is something to brag about? It's not finding a cure for cancer, or fighting a battle, or changing the world. It's just me, feeling pride for something that I achieved.
If you remember, last semester (around October), I sent an e-mail to one of my favorite authors asking if I could interview her, and she said I could. Unfortunately, I didn't hear back from her after I sent her my questions. I passed it off as the cosmic void of the internet stealing things and not spitting them back out as a good wormhole should. (Okay, that video doesn't really have anything to do with wormholes, but it's funny!)
Anyway, so I got home from class today, and what should be in my e-mail inbox but my interview! ::squeel!:: I've included her explanation. I just want to say thank you to Jessica Day George for being so nice and answering my questions three months after they were written when she could have just let it go. If you want to learn more about Jessica Day George and her books, click here for her website.
Here's the interview!
I am so, so sorry! I got a new computer on October 11th (my birthday), and in transferring my unanswered emails, they got stuck in some dead letter folder. I didn't really notice until recently, and then we had to retrieve them and sort them and I'm only now getting around to answering them!
Please, please forgive me!
And I hope it's not too late to answer your questions!
You have published five books in two years, which is pretty impressive. Did you have some of your books underway when you published Dragon Slippers or were they all written since then?
All of them have been written since I finished Dragon Slippers. Because it was my first novel, though, Dragon Slippers got delayed a few times by the publisher, so it didn't come out for about two years. That gave me some extra time.
With two young children and a husband, when do you find the time to write?
I give the children to the husband and say, These are yours! And then I go hide!
What's the best thing about writing?
The feeling of godlike power! I can kill this person if I want to! I can make you marry whomever I like! Mwahhahaha!
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Read, all the time and all sorts of different things, and write every day.
How do you write your books? (Outline, beginning to end, end to beginning, start in the middle, etc.)
Beginning to end, with occasional notes if I think I might forget something about the ending.
How many versions of the fairytales (East O' the Sun, West O' the Moon and The Twelve Dancing Princesses) did you read for research?
With East o' the Sun, only the one I recommend in the back of Sun and Moon, because it's the best, truest version. With Twelve Dancing, I read a couple, but really wanted to make it my own, so I didn't really bother with the details of other people's versions too much.
What is it about Norway that made you so interested in it? And has Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow been translated into Norwegian?
I wish they would translate it! Wouldn't that be too wonderful?! I don't know what it is, but something about the landscape and the language just called to me! I love Grieg, and the fjords, and knitting, and the ocean! (Also, A-ha! Best 80's band ever!)
I was able to attend your presentation at the BYU Symposium for Books for Young Readers this last summer and you talked about a "Chocolate Theory." Can you give me a brief overview of this theory?
Um, let's see: There is a book out there for everyone, just like there is a chocolate out there for everyone! You've had chocolate cake (or read a book), it's fine, you like it okay. Then you discover Cheesecake Factory's Triple Chocolate Cheesecake (or in my case, YA fantasy), and suddenly you are in love, and reading/eating chocolate becomes a magical experience that brings you joy and makes you smile when you think about it! Everyone has their Triple Chocolate Cheesecake, you just need to figure out what it is: mysteries, literary fiction, sci fi.
You also mentioned at the symposium the book that made you love reading. I remember that it was a Robin McKinley, but I can't remember the which one. And what was it about this book that engaged you?
The Hero and the Crown! It was about Aerin, who had red hair and felt very clumsy and untalented, something that just struck a cord with me. She was tall for her age, like I was, and seemed to be surrounded by beautiful, stylish people. She decided to make a name for herself by slaying dragons! It had everything I could imagine: magic, romance, adventure, dragons, horses, war, and the hero was someone I could understand. Just the perfect book, at least for me!
About the heroines in your books, especially Creel and the Lass, they are such strong female characters, which is different than a lot of fairy-tales. How do you think these characters are different from other female heros (for example, in Tamora Pierce's books, McKinley's or Levine's)?
Oh, we could talk for days about this! I think all well-written characters are different, yet there are some things the same. I try to make mine strong, but not unbelievably so, and I know other authors do too. You want to show your readers what they, too, are capable of: honesty, loyalty, courage, intelligence. I think a lot of other authors have captured this same thing. I adore Ella Enchanted, and how Ella works around her curse so beautifully. Aerin in Hero and the Crown is both insecure and yet strong and confident in the things she knows she can do well. The Lass was more insecure, but brave in her way and fiercely loyal, whereas Creel just knew she could do anything she set her mind to.
What is something that you would like readers to gain from reading your books? A point of view or idea?
Girls can do amazing things too!
What's the best part of publishing a book?
Seeing it on the shelf in the stores. Thrills me every time!
Do you consider your books to be Young Adult?
Yep. Teenage protagonist, PG-13 amounts of violence, some light romance.
I'm an editing minor, so I would be really interested to know how useful you find your editor to be? Has she or he helped changed your books or stories into something better? What difference has having an editor made?
10 (Sorry, Whitney here, I'm not exactly sure by what she meant by the 10, but I'm guessing that she thinks her editor is a 10. Go back to reading the interview.)
As someone who is LDS, how has having that background influenced your writing?
I'm sorry, but I never know how to answer this question. I was raised LDS, and just can't imagine what my life or my writing would be like without it.
And finally, if I may ask, are you working on a new book? What new things can we (especially me!) expect to see in the near future?
I'm always working on a new book! Next up: Princess of Glass will be out in May, it's the sequel to Princess of the Midnight Ball.
ranch dressing (I used BYU Creamery ranch. . . yum!)
Heat up oil in a frying pan. Cut the onion into little pieces and fry it up. The onions should turn transparent. Once the onions are done cooking, add the black beans and corn. I also added just a pinch of chili powder and some fajita seasoning. Cut up the avocado into cubes (I used a fourth of an avocado for just one taco), and slice the olives--remember to stir the black beans occasionally! Once the beans and corn are heated up, put on the tortilla. Pile on cheese, lettuce, avocado, olives and top with ranch dressing.
The New Year is a time to look over the past year, to think about the things you've done and the things you wish you had done. It is a time to look forward to the coming year, the year that's new with no mistakes in it yet and to look forward to making changes and being better. True, sometimes it just doesn't work. Sometimes things are too tough to change in twelve months, but I think the big thing is that we try, because trying is half the battle.
Last year I made some resolutions. Some of them I completed, some of them I'm still working on, and some of them probably got forgotten the day after I made them ("eat less sweets" . . . right . . . ). But I made them, that's always the first step.
This year is unique, it is the beginning of a new decade as well as a new year. The past ten years have seen so many changes in my life--probably because they contained my teenage years! Ten years ago, no one knew what a blog was, everyone was just starting to get their own e-mail addresses, and no one had any idea was an iPod or MP3 was. It must have been horrible! ;) Through the past ten years I passed all the biggest milestones of my life: I became a teenager, I got my drivers license, had my first boyfriend, graduated from high school, got into BYU, turned 21, and I'm now in my (hopefully) last year of college. And those are just milestones!
What will this new decade bring? It's hard to tell, but there are somethings that I can be sure of. I know I'll be graduating from college. Hopefully, I'll get a job in the field of my choice, but that's just one of those things you can't tell. In fact, now that I think of it, the only thing I'm absolutely sure of is that I'll graduate. The rest of the future decade is a mystery to me, which I suppose I can deal with.
I only have one true resolution for this decade: take one day at a time.