Q1: Where are you from?
I was born in Florida, but I've lived in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Indiana, Arizona, and now Texas. In a sense, I had two childhoods - one in Indiana, ages 5-11 and one in Arizona, ages 12-22. I've lived in Texas since 2010.
Q2: Who inspired you to become a writer?
Myself. I know that might sound weird, but it's true. When I was a little girl, I used to carry a spiral notebook with me everywhere and write short two-page stories. I even illustrated my thoughts in the margins. My family's favorite story was called "The Christmas Monkey" in which a monkey tried to save Christmas from being destroyed by the evil king. It was a masterpiece (kidding, of course). My point is, I knew I loved to write, so that's what I did. It's that simple. Find your passion—the one thing you really enjoy—and go all out. In the long run, you'll thank yourself for it.
Q3: How do you get your ideas?
I find that ideas come to me when I'm doing the most mundane, routine things. Now that I think of it, a large majority of my ideas have come to me when I'm in the bathroom doing my hair. This is such a boring task that I don't really have to focus on, so it allows my mind to wander. If I sit down at a desk and say, "I'm going to think of new ideas today", it never works. For me, the ideas have to come spontaneously—it's not something I can plan for. That's why I always carry a small notebook and pen with me, or I use the Notes function on my phone to capture my ideas.
Q4: How many hours a day do you write?
This really depends. It's not so much "how many hours" but "how many words" I write per day. I try to aim anywhere between 1,500-2,500 words per day. If I stay on track (trust me, this is a lot harder than it sounds), this means I'll have a completed first draft in two months (for you mathematically-challenged folks out there: 60,000 words/1,000 words a day = 60 days = 2 months). On really good writing days when the creativity is just there, I can write 1,000 words in an hour. But on most days, it takes longer. It all just depends on how I'm feeling that day.
Q5: What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
Finishing the first draft of my first novel while simultaneously working full-time and completing my Master's degree. Those two years were unbelievably difficult, but I proved to myself that "I'm busy" is just an excuse. Whenever I feel really overwhelmed, I think back to that time and it makes me feel empowered. If I can make it through that, I can make it through anything. It's all about time management and making time for the things that make your heart happy.
Q6: Do you use real life facts based on true stories? Do you use your own experiences?
You know what they say, writers write what they know. So yes, I do use my own experiences, but only to a certain extent. The first draft of my first novel revolved around my life experiences and guess what? No surprise here, but it was boooooring. And when I say boring, I mean reeeealllly boooooring. It took an entire year to completely revamp it, but it was well worth it. Now I have a young adult scifi that is way more interesting and filled with tons of subplots!
Q7: What advice would you give to people who "run out of creativity" while writing?
Read a chapter from your favorite book. Browse Pinterest for inspirational quotes. Look at a favorite author's blog or watch their YouTube videos (if they have a channel). I've also found that taking a step away from your writing and doing something active can lead to incredibly brilliant ideas. It's okay if you're just "not feeling it" one day—just be sure to not make that a habit.
Q8: What books have influenced your life most?
Oooh, this is tough. I would have to say Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk and The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling. Invisible Monsters is such a thought-provoking read and I highly recommend it if you're looking to read a wonderfully abstract story. The Harry Potter Series is just incredible. I kind of fell into a reading lull when I was in middle school, but Harry Potter pulled me back into the amazing world of books. In terms of influencing me to write, I would have to say The Young Elites by Marie Lu, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and Divergent by Veronica Roth. Something about the dystopian and dark fantasy settings really pulled me in, and I loved seeing kick-ass female heroines for a change!
Q9: What was your life like before becoming an author?
To be honest, it really hasn't changed much. I was your typical college student who went to a large university for four years, graduated with a business degree, then got a job in the corporate world (one that I'm still chugging along at). After working for two years, I decided to get my Master's degree while continuing to work 40+ hour work weeks at my job. I still hold down a full-time job where I work during the day and write in the evening and on weekends. One day, I would love to be a career author where all I do is write. That's the dream!
Q10: What advice would you give your younger self?
Never stop writing and never stop dreaming! For a while there, I was so focused on getting my life and my career in order that I stopped writing. So it ended up taking me a full 5 years to write my first novel (a few months for the first few chapters, a three year lull, a year to complete it, and a year to revise it). I wish I had kept writing even though I had a million other things I needed to do. I've learned now that the key is balance and that you absolutely must make time for the things you love. If you don't, then what's the point?