Tim Federle

How did you become a writer?

I had danced in five Broadway shows over ten years. My knees needed a break. And I realized I'd spent so much of my life hanging out with writers because I wanted to be one myself.

Name your writing influences (writers, books, teachers, etc.).

Dorothy Parker seems to never go out of style, like khaki pants or Pop Tarts for lunch. In terms of craft, Stephen King's On Writing taught me to cut adverbs; Julia Cameron's The Right to Write, to get up and get to work. Beyond that, I'm stubborn about wanting to learn on the job -- not in classrooms or via group criticism. Hence my avoidance of college. 

When and where do you write?

In the morning, soon as I get up. That way I'm still in a dream-state, and don't talk myself out of outlandish story lines. Incidentally, this is why both Jake Gyllenhaal and ponies feature in many first drafts.

What are you working on now?

Prepping to launch my debut novel for tweens, Better Nate Than Ever. After that, I've got Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails With a Literary Twist (Running Press, April 2013), a novelty cocktail recipe book -- think: The Last of the Mojitos and A Rum of One's Own -- for English-major types.

Have you ever suffered from writer’s block?

Ninety percent of the time, if I'm stuck it's because I didn't give the scene a good enough set-up. The other ten percent, I've left the computer and am spooning peanut butter out of the jar -- oftentimes directly onto a cookie, or even cake -- and weeping audibly.

What’s your advice to new writers?

Take an improv acting class. You will learn so much more from the art of saying "Yes" -- that is, just GOING with an initial impulse -- than you will in a teetering stack of "How-to" writing guides. Also helps for dialogue, pace, all of it. Also, it counts toward "cardio," which is the number two thing writers forget to do, right after "Delete all comments" in Microsoft Word.

Tim Federle is the author of over seven-hundred emails. Better Nate Than Ever -- Tim's debut novel about a small-town eighth grader who concocts a plan to run away to New York and crash an audition for E.T.: The Musical -- is out February 5th, 2013 from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. Say hi at TimFederle.com and on Twitter @TimFederle.