How did you become a writer? What a challenging question and this is only the first! LOL. Well, I always credit any urging to become a writer to my father. He was a writer. He wrote these funny romantic safari adventure tales. Of course, I wanted to be just like him and so tried to emulate his style of writing and failed miserably. At nine years of age, I remember my English teacher assigned us a writing exercise, a short story. I’d just read Black Beauty by Anne Sewell and my story was remarkably similar to hers. At nine, I hadn’t yet learned about plagiarism. When the teacher returned our stories, mine came back with a big diagonal line on the front of my paper and the words “Too Schmaltzy!” scrawled across it. I was mortified. It stopped me from writing until I was a teenager, a good six years later. But after my teen years, I just needed to settle down and write which I did not until my early thirties. I dabbled during my twenties but I wasn’t focused enough to get serious about writing.
Name your writing influences (writers, books, teachers, etc.). My influences can be found by casting a galactic net. For writers, I have to say Kurt Vonnegut, Leo Tolstoy, Terry Persun, Joshua Graham, David Quammen, Carol Edgarian, Edgar Allan Poe and Shakespeare, but these few names represent only a sliver of a fraction of writers who have influenced me as a person and as a writer. For books, Anna Karenina, Keepers of Truth, Slaughter House Five, The Moon & Sixpence, The Three Stages of Amazement, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, Breakfast of Champions, Mistake in Identity. Well, my list of books read is long and extensive too. For teachers, I was fortunate to have a mentor for two years in my beginning as a writer. His name is Michael Collins and he helped me incredibly. Also, Tom Jenks, a more recent teacher who cracked the curtain to my writing and who I will always thank for helping me understand how to develop a great story. But this is a very short list and not really representative of all works, writers and teachers who have guided me in my writing career.
When and where do you write? I am a morning writer so most of my new writing happens before the day gets going. I’m usually up by six o’clock. By nine, things have gotten a bit wild already and so writing gets more difficult but I usually push through until about one in the afternoon. I seem to have a great deal of trouble writing at night. My mind feels soggy then. And my answer to where I write is on my couch—feet up, laptop open.
What are you working on now? A story called Way of the Wild Wood. It’s a tale about an eleven-year-old girl, Meg Nightly, whose mother died just months before the story begins. She now lives with her grieving and abusive father whom she calls Pa. After a particularly bad evening with Pa, Meg takes off on a journey into the woods that surround their home, a place called Fennel Forest at the crest of Whisker Ridge, and Meg gets lost.
Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? No, not really. Story usually comes easily when I sit to write. What I suffer from are distractions. My husband and I live with one outnumbered dog named Robert, thirteen-and-a-half cats, and fourteen birds. Many issues spring up with that many critters. Someone is always getting into trouble somehow. I suffer from animals.
What’s your advice to new writers? Don’t worry about how well someone else is doing. That’s their business. Your success will come if you focus on the craft of writing. Keep your nose in your story and see it to completion. Then repeat, repeat and repeat. If you produce inventory, you sell inventory.
Bio: Susan Wingate’s poem entitled “The Dance of Wind in Trees” was accepted for publication in the April 2013 issue of the Virginia Quarterly Review. Her award-winning, #1 Amazon best seller, “Drowning” is now available in audio book version. Susan’s first book “Spider Brains” of the three-book “Susie Speider” YA Fiction Series is Available Now (Astraea Press). In 2012, two of Susan’s books made it onto the Top 10 Amazon Best Seller list, twice. Drowning (contemporary women’s fiction) won first place in the 2011 Forward National Literature Award for the category of drama. Drowning also won a finalist award for the category of Women’s Fiction/Chick Lit in the 2011 International Book Awards and reached #1 on the Amazon’s Best Seller list.
A vibrant public speaker, Susan offers inspiring, motivational talks about the craft of writing, publishing and marketing, and how to survive this extremely volatile ePublishing industry. She presents these lectures at writing conferences, libraries and book stores around the country. She also loves to visit with book clubs for more intimate chats. To learn more about Susan Wingate, you can go to her website at: www.susanwingate.com.