Today we have author Jessica Lee Anderson answering some questions about her writing life. Please welcome Jessica!
What is your brainstorming process for a new book?
Once I get the initial idea, I ask several questions:
Who is my protagonist?
What does this character want more than anything?
How will the protagonist struggle and, ultimately, prevail?
Who else is involved?
Where will the story take place?
What is the time frame?
I then write some notes and let these questions simmer for a short while before attacking the first draft.
Can you explain your typical work week day?
My days vary quite a bit, but a typical work week day usually starts with oatmeal, tea, and reading material (book, magazine, etc.). I’ll read for about an hour or so before checking email. I teach part time at the Institute of Children’s Literature, so I’ll respond to my students’ assignments until lunchtime. Then I’ll delve into research, revising, writing, or marketing until it is time for dinner. (Can you tell my day revolves around food? ☺) Often, I’ll work late into the evening on various projects.
Tell us about when you made the decision to write.
I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was a child, but I lost confidence in this decision since I struggled with school writing assignments. That didn’t keep me from writing for pleasure though. After writing my first novel in college, I finally took the decision to be a writer seriously.
What suggestions do you have for aspiring writers?
This advice is far from unique, but read. Read. And read some more to learn about the craft and to discover your own voice. Then write. Write. And write some more. I’ve met many aspiring writers who have the want and the need to write, but don’t make it a priority. I’d encourage them to do so and to also consider looking into professional writing organizations (like SCBWI) which provide a wealth of information and support. And lastly, don’t give up!
Tell us about what you’re working on right now and what we can expect from you in the near future.
I’ve been revising a novel, Calli, which is about a girl who learns the meaning of family after the drama of being a foster sister. I’ve got my fingers crossed that this story will soon be acquired in addition to a picture book called Waiting for Potatoes.
Great interview, Jessica! Thank you so much for joining us for ‘Writers on Writing!’
You can get Jessica’s work at your local bookstore or here.
Jessica Lee Anderson is the author of Trudy, which won the 2005 Milkweed Prize for Children’s Literature, as well as Border Crossin
g. She’s published two nonfiction readers, as well as fiction and nonfiction for a variety of magazines including Highlights for Children. While her experiences have ranged from teaching to selling computers to coordinating a vision therapy clinic, her lifelong passion is writing literature for children. She lives near Austin, Texas, with her husband, Michael.