Tuesday, April 7, 2015

7 Questions For: Author Skila Brown

Skila Brown holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She grew up in Kentucky and Tennessee, lived for a bit in Guatemala, and now resides with her family in Indiana. Caminar is her first novel.

Her first job ever was selling hot dogs. She is terrified of frogs and hates being tickled.

Click here to read my review of Caminar. 

Click here to read her guest post "How to Write a Poem in 10 Easy Steps."

And now Skila Brown faces the 7 Questions:

Question Seven: What are your top three favorite books?

Well, obviously this changes from day to day. But I won't cheat on this. I'll really give you just three. My three favorite today. 

Terry Pratchett's Nation
Kristin Cashore's FIre
Rainbow Rowell's Attachments

And - you didn't ask what my favorite series was - but if you did, I'd say Suzanne Collins's Gregor the Overlander series. With Tui T. Sutherland's Wings of Fire a close second.

Question Six: How much time do you spend each week writing? Reading?

The writing time varies a lot. When I'm drafting a novel - it's probably 20 hours or so a week? But when I'm not--when I'm revising or fiddling with poems or freewriting or brainstorming--it's often less. Maybe more like 8 hours a week? (Gosh, that's a small number. No wonder I feel like I never finish anything.)

I'm a big reader. I'd guess 20-30 hours reading on an average week.

Question Five: What was the path that led you to publication?

If I were more tech-savy, I'd draw this out with diagrams and arrows and such. So just imagine that. In your head.

Freelance writing for magazines and newspapers led me to some publications in Highlights and Ladybug and the like. Which led me to "Hey. I want to write books for kids." Which led me to an SCBWI conference. In which I first heard of Vermont College of Fine Arts. There I learned everything I know about being a writer. And left to land a fantastic agent (Tina Wexler at ICM) and a great publishing house (Candlewick) to boot.  

Those are the major stops along the path to publication. But rest assured, there were detours. I have a file cabinet full of printed-out detours. 

Question Four: Do you believe writers are born, taught or both? Which was true for you?

Oh, that's such a great question. The obvious answer is both, I think. Right? Doesn't everyone say both? I think some of us are born with this instinctual need to tell stories; we're comfortable crafting narratives, filling in the details. We're excellent liars. But we can learn so much about the craft. I'm the kind of person who loves to learn. I'm always studying something. Writers are artists, first and foremost. So while we may have some kind of talent we've been gifted with, we've got lots of room to grow and improve with classes, training, education, and by studying the masters. 

Question Three: What is your favorite thing about writing? What is your least favorite thing?

Well, my least favorite part is definitely revision. Too bad that's 70% of writing a novel. After about Draft Eight, I just feel completely drained and confused about why I ever thought the idea was worth my time. 

Favorite thing: I get paid to lie. 

Close second: I get to eat doughnuts. For research. And it's a tax deduction. 

Question Two: What one bit of wisdom would you impart to an aspiring writer? (feel free to include as many other bits of wisdom as you like)

Read, read, read. Write, write, write. You can't do either of these too much. 

Question One: If you could have lunch with any writer, living or dead, who would it be? Why?

Oh, wow. I needed to think about this one for a bit. I want to say J.K. Rowling just for the fact that I could blow my kids' minds. But selfishly, I've love to say Judy Blume. Her books were so influential to me when I was growing up, I'd love to be able to sit down and tell her that. But then - I could say the same for Shel Silverstein too. I remember feeling like the subversiveness in his poems was speaking directly to me--like he could see inside my brain. Also, I kind of want to pick Neil Gaiman. Because doesn't every writer have a tiny crush on Neil Gaiman? Right? Wait. Is that just me? 

Okay, I might have cheated on this last one. But I didn't on the first, so it all evens out.

1 comment:

  1. Great responses! I loved Skila's CAMINAR and am looking forward to whatever she puts into the world next.


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