Author's Ink

We grow writers!

Steph's Interview, By Courtnie Dotson

Q: Where are you from?

A: Syracuse, New York. Go Orange!


Q: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

A: I can, actually. I’m sixteen, and just a little bit crazy. I will undoubtedly correct your grammar at some point, and I am somewhat proficient in three languages besides English. I take a while to warm up to people, but once I do, we will be the best of friends.


Q: What do you do when you aren’t writing?

A: I love downhill skiing and being outdoors! Also, I run a literary magazine that was formerly part of my high school. Now we self-publish. Mostly, though, I talk. A LOT.


Q: How long does it take you to write a book?

A: FOREVER. I usually keep ideas stuck inside my head for months as part of an incubation period. I don’t usually have a ton of free time, so it’s hard to fit writing in these days.


Q: Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?

A: Lots of writers have influenced me! I study classic literature when I am able, but I must say that Edgar Allan Poe has been more of a mentor to me than anything else. I have a collection of all the pieces he wrote, and it’s hideously marred with notes to myself.


Q: Do you ever research real events, legends, or myths to get ideas?

A: Oh yes. There’s this one idea I have, and it has to do with a world of mythical creatures. Half of it came from a dream two years ago, and the other half is a synthesis of mythology that fascinated me.


Q: Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?

A: Always the former. Family dynamics always play a monumental role in my writing, because my family has always influenced me, positively and negatively. I love writing about sibling relationships because my respective interactions with the other Kenific kids are so varying. Also, my characters hardly ever have nice parents. That’s something I was always deciding subconsciously until very recently.


Q: What scares you?

A: I’d like to say that nothing scares me, but I’d probably be lying. I am terrified of losing my brothers, though I’d never admit it to them. And the future scares me too, though it’s more exciting than anything. Sometimes I worry I’m not good enough to “make it” with my writing, but all I can do is keep trying, right?


Q: Beyond your own work (of course), what is your all-time favorite horror book and why? And what is your favorite book outside of the horror genre?

A: I have to pick just one? I’d probably say Stephen King’s It or The Shining, since they are the only books that have succeeded in scaring me. For a favorite outside of horror, I’d definitely say Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time Series. They are the most amazingly-crafted books I have ever picked up. Read them. No seriously, read them.


Q: What do you think makes a good story?

A: Well it’s not just any one thing, but there needs to be quality character interactions. And the author needs to find new ways of expressing him or herself, something I’ve never thought of before. I hate writers that say, “It was so scary I couldn’t describe it!” As a writer, it’s kind of your job to describe “it.”


Q: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

A: Robert Jordan. The man was a genius, of the same caliber as Tolkien. All of his story is brilliantly planned-out and descriptive and hooking and wonderful. I can’t compliment him enough. RIP Robert Jordan...


Q: What does your family think of your writing?

A: Ha! My family doesn’t read my writing. I think my extended family is of the opinion that I’m pretty accomplished in that field, and I let them believe that. No, the only family member I’ve shared with is my older brother, Michael, who inspired me to write from a very young age. He’s always given well-rounded (and extremely accurate) reviews.


Q: What book are you reading right now?
When I have time, I muddle through The Silmarillion, by Tolkien. I’m also on a reading book committee for my school, so I always have a stash of new literature to read. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet has been my favorite thus far. It’s a story of two young friends (one Japanese and one Chinese) torn apart during World War II when the United States ordered all Japanese to live in work camps.


Q: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

A: Well, everyone at Author’s Ink, of course! They are the most talented bunch I’ve had the honor of knowing, and I adore being able to have that connection. Everything I’ve read on that side is fantastic and hilarious at the same time.


Q: What are your current projects?
It’s a novel that has been stuck in my head since I was in elementary school. I’ve written and re-written the damn thing over and over through the years, and it won’t go away, no matter how hard I try. With any luck, this’ll be the last draft.


Q: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
I can tell you that it involves ghosts. And a dead schizophrenic ex-Naval captain as an antagonist. And there are a lot of drugs involved.


Q: Will you have a new book coming out soon?

A: ...Next question.


Q: Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?

A: Well, I am an aspiring writer. But if I had to answer, which I think I do, I’d say... “Look. Your writing’s going to suck for a long time. The one way to get better at writing is to read the classics; they’re famous for a reason. Somewhere along the line, you’ll pick up the lingo and your writing will exponentially improve. NPR came up with a list of The 100 Books You Need To Read, or something. Start there. And when inspiration hits you, don’t write it down immediately. Play with the idea in your head, because once it’s on paper it’ll seem withered and silly if you haven’t thought it through. But msot of all, never give up. You got this. Yeah.”