I recently completed my first interview with Lisa Olsen, author of The Touch and Pretty Witches All In A Row, and got some amazing answers to my questions. This time out, I’ve interviewed Missy Davis, a new author who hasn’t yet published any of her works, but will be soon.
She recently participated in NaNoWriMo and successfully completed a novel in the month of November. She is currently in the middle of edits.
Please join me in welcoming Missy Davis.
You’re a new author, just starting out. What inspires you to write?
That’s a tricky question, actually, because it has two parts to it. The first part is why did I want to be a writer. I was an avid reader from the moment I could read my first words. I read everything I could get my hands on. In third grade I remember getting a notebook as a prize from a teacher and I started writing poetry where every line had to rhyme. Something like “The little kitten lay, fast asleep in the hay.” The other reason I started writing was that it was an escape from life. Reading and writing got me through some very difficult times growing up. There is nothing like getting lost in another world to avoid the one you live in. In many ways I want to provide that outlet for others.
As far as what inspires me to write my stories, it’s different all the time. Sometimes it’s a certain feeling I get that there is something inside just itching to come out. A lot of ideas pop in my head right as I am working on another project. In the past, these ideas have distracted me from finishing whatever writing I was working on at the time. Now I just write down the general idea and promise to come back to it when I can devote adequate time to it. Here lately, it’s the inspiration of fellow writers that gets me moving. Seeing that others believe in you and have walked the path before you really helps when you are just starting out. Having people who appreciate what I write and give me feedback has been so helpful since I’ve been terrified to share my work with others. You know how it is, we’re always our worst critic and we sometimes expect others to treat our work as critically as we treat it.
I’ve really enjoyed writing flash fictions to get the ideas flowing too. Participating in Writer Wednesday with Joann H. Buchanon has inspired me with new ideas every week. http://theeclecticartistcave.blogspot.com/ I find that challenging myself to write things I would not normally write has actually given me more ideas for stories to pursue in the future.
You have a young family. How do you juggle writing while doing all the home life things you need to get done, too?
Actually so far it has been easier than I thought it would be. My daughter is about 15 months old right now and she is extremely active, so it has been a challenge. I take advantage of naptime. She gets a good two hours of sleep in the afternoon which is a good chunk of time. I sometimes put cleaning on the back burner and make meals that last a couple of nights so I have more time to focus on other things. My husband has been very helpful too, especially during NaNoWriMo. I have left the house with the laptop or camped out in the bedroom away from family life for a few hours at a time. Weekends have become my friend as I let daddy take over caring for baby. It gives me time to work on things or take a break while he gets to bond with our daughter. The biggest chunk of time that I have is when my child goes to bed for the night. When everyone else is asleep I finally get the quiet time that I need to focus on writing. My house may not be as picture perfect as the in-laws, never clean enough to pass the white glove test, but it’s enough for us to function and certainly a lot cleaner than it was when we were both working desk jobs. Sometimes we sacrifice for our craft. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.
What genre do you write in?
I actually have so many ideas that I am not sure where I fit anymore. I have ideas for children’s books, romance novels, and fantasy novels. I just have so many ideas that it could take me in different directions and I really feel like I cannot limit myself to one. The two that I have worked on recently have been fantasy novels. One is a fantasy novel in which I had to construct the whole world from scratch. This book has been a challenge to write. It was so difficult to create a world that I expect others to believe in. It’s taking me a while to get through revisions because my writing has changed so much since I first started it. The other one is a contemporary romantic fantasy with a little paranormal in the fact that I am writing about the Shadow people. I wrote this story for the NaNoWriMo challenge and fell in love with it from the start. It’s so much easier to write a story when you do not have to create the whole world it belongs in.
Do you work outside of the home? If so, what kind of work do you do and do you incorporate your work life into your writing?
I used to work outside the home before I had my child. I’ve taught middle school and elementary school, so I think in the future when I write children’s novels, I will pull greatly from that experience. I will be kind to the teachers when I write my books, because we often read about the evil, nasty teachers and never hear about the ones that put their heart and soul into the classroom. I also worked a desk job, so I guess it is easy to say that I could incorporate the daily frustrations of dealing with people and working in a small cubicle that sucks the life out of you. Currently I am a stay at home mom, and am thoroughly enjoying raising my daughter. It allows me to watch her grow and encourages me to be the best role model I can be for her. Someday I know she will be proud of me for pursuing my own dreams. I hope to encourage her to do the same.
You’ve just completed NaNoWriMo, completing a full length novel in one month. Did you already have the idea ahead of time? Would you do another one NaNoWriMo?
I actually started this novel a few years ago. It was a spur of the moment idea and I had only written about 3 pages. I pulled it up a few weeks before the challenge began and was surprised to see I had started it in first person. The challenge for me was to continue along this route. I have always written in third person, because it is easier to distance yourself from the characters. I learned that it can be easy to put more of yourself into it if you try writing from a more personalized perspective. I intend to go back to Terrahtu and try to instill a deeper honesty like my Nano.
I would like to devote more than November to writing a novel in a month. It was a great experience for me. It provided me with the evidence that I needed. Can I write a book in a short period of time? Yes. Would I like what I wrote? Absolutely. Would I have as many problems as I did with the first book, seeing as how it took me almost ten years to complete? No. Actually I feel like I had less problems because I was not able to over think the writing process. I’m excited to go back and edit this Nano. It was a lot of fun to write. I will definitely do this again next year, but this time I will come up with an idea and not start it before November 1.
What kind of support system do you have?
I have my wonderful husband and some really awesome friends that encourage me to keep going everyday. My husband likes to say that I am the next JK Rowling, and while I giggle every time he says it, I think it is incredibly sweet. He knows that my goal for writing is not to make an absurd amount of money. It’s simply to be read and appreciated. He wants me to follow my dreams and every day he works to support our family so that I can stay home with our daughter and work on my writing. My closest friends celebrate every landmark I reach with me. Having a writing community like WMD also has been a godsend. I was accepted within the folds quickly and treated as if I had always been one of them from the start. It’s amazing to share my work with them and not worry that they will do anything but appreciate the work of a former writer. I don’t cringe and wait for the criticism, because they are authors too, and know that while writing is a certain percentage art, the majority of it all is defined by heart.
When did you start writing creatively? What were some of the early writings that you did? Would you ever use any of them now?
I think I sort of answered this on a previous question. I have been writing for a very long time. I have never written professionally before though. When I was a child, I loved reading and escaping into other worlds. My favorite books when I was a child were written by C.S. Lewis, Judy Blume, and Jean Craighead George. I very much wanted to live on my own and survive in the forest. When I was in third grade I wrote a fanfiction story for Highlights Magazine, but it was never published. The title was Superfudge Junior, and you can probably guess it was all about Farley Drexel Junior and how he was very much like his father as a child. I did not understand copyright infringement at the time, which is why I think they never responded to my inquiry. From there I continued to write more poetry. I remember when my mom attended a parent teacher conference for 8th grade. My English teacher told her how impressed she was with my writing and told her that I wrote like a 20 year old. It was the best compliment I had ever received at the time, and it made me want to do even better.
When I entered high school I started writing short stories, mostly for school assignments. By the time I was a junior in high school, my English teacher encouraged me to enter for a chance to attend the Illinois Summer School for the Arts. At that point in time I had already been writing longer short stories, one of them being a ghost story, which I entered as an example of my writing. I won a scholarship to attend the two week summer camp, and had the time of my life. I decided from then on that I wanted to be a writer. The funny thing is that I had such a logical head on my shoulders and decided since writing was not a guarantee that I had to have a profession to fall back on. So I attended Illinois State University and got a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education. I became a teacher, who put everything I had into my work and had very little left over to work on the book that I had started when I was in college. When I was finally able to quit teaching, my writing became my focus again.
What else would you be doing if you couldn’t write, and why?
Well, I’ve already done it. I was a teacher. I loved teaching, but the dealing with administration and bureaucratic imbeciles that had never spent a day in the classroom literally sucked the soul right out of my body. I would probably find a desk job if I could no longer write. Or just stay home and raise my children and let my husband take care of us. One day he says I will keep him in the manner to which he should be accustomed. Ha ha ha! Dare to dream I tell him.
Have you got ideas for more books that are just itching to get written?
Absolutely. I have two children’s book ideas, a romance novel, and another fantasy romance novel. Then there is the sequel to Terrahtu, which is several chapters from the original version of the book. I had way too many characters and ideas going on in the very first version, so I split it into two books. I just have to go back and start on the other one.
Who inspires you to write?
I think it is fair to say that the people I know and love inspire me every day to write, but every part of my past is a stepping stone to another story. It is true that writers suffer great melancholy, and I have had my fair share which I think allows me to put more emotion into my writing. I also think that everything I have gone through in this lifetime has inspired me to be who I am. I waited most of my life to get to the point where I believe in me and while having others like what I do is nice, I have to be the one to inspire and motivate myself to continue. There was nothing like finishing the first book, being proud of myself, and knowing that I could repeat the process anytime I wanted.
I’m supposed to ask you a silly question…There was an underwear challenge going around awhile back…here is one of the questions: How many bloggers does it take to put panties on a goat?
Well I think it takes at least six, maybe seven. One to distract the goat with food, while two others pick up the back feet. One more padded like a hockey goalie, who struggles to put on the underwear without being kicked. Two giggling on the side hysterically while they take photos for Beth’s funny picture blog and one more viciously texting ideas for their next sci-fi blog titled “Attack of the Killer Goats” in which evil underwear wearing goats come after the WMD writers for even thinking they could put underwear on a goat without retribution.