Tell us something about yourself. A mini-biography of sorts.
My name is Liz DeJesus, I’m a stay at home mom and the author of several books: Nina (Blu Phi’er Publishing, August 2007), The Jackets (Arte Publico Press, March 2011) First Frost (Musa Publishing, June 2012) and Glass Frost (Musa Publishing, Release date pending).
Did you always want to be a writer?
Always. For as long as I can remember. I know it started because I wanted to be just like my mom who is also a writer (still unpublished but we’re hoping to change that soon). But when I was eighteen years old I decided to take it seriously and actually pursue a career as a writer. A few hits and misses here and there but no regrets.
What part of writing do you find the most fun? the most difficult?
The most fun is right at the beginning when I have a brand new idea for a book and the inspiration is coming at a million miles per second. That I’m writing anywhere and everywhere I can. While I’m cooking, while I’m sitting in the parking lot, on my notebook, on receipt paper…anywhere.
The most difficult part? I would have to say it’s the revising/editing. I’ve already written the story and I know it like the back of my hand. I’m also anxious to move on to the next project that I have in the back of my mind and I just want to be finished with what I’m working at the moment.
How much of your personal life do you incorporate in your writing?
I use a lot of the little quirks that I have to make my characters interesting. Or I’ll use something I said to a family member or a friend that I thought was either funny or thoughtful.
Tell us a little about what you’re working on right now.
I just signed a contract with Musa Publishing for the sequel to First Frost. It’s titled Glass Frost and it picks up right where the first book ends. The second book involves Cinderella’s glass slipper and we find out what happened to the seven dwarves after Snow White married the prince. Right now I’m currently working on the third book of the series, it’s titled Shattered Frost. This book will involve Captain Bluebeard and Alice in Wonderland. This book introduces a few new characters and I’m just having so much fun writing it.
I’m also working on a few short stories for some upcoming anthologies and I just got another idea for a book but it’s still in the beginning stages.
Is there anything surprising you’ve learned about the publishing industry that you’d like to share with us?
How people that I’ve never even met in person can be so kind and helpful. Of course, I’ve also met people online that are the exact opposite, but the good experiences outweigh the negative.
There are lots of rules out there, like “show, don’t tell” and “don’t use adverbs”. Are there any rules that you break and why?
I don’t know if there are any rules that I break. I try to stick to the ‘rules’ as much as possible.
What’s the most rewarding aspect about writing?
When I get positive reviews for my work. Just reading that someone enjoyed my book. That they weren’t able to put it down. Sometimes I feel like I’m running on gas fumes and happy thoughts. LOL And reading positive reviews just gives me the extra bit of energy I need to work on my next book.
What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve learned so far?
To follow my heart. And that’s what I’ve been doing so far. Love the places it takes me.
Do you feel you chase the market or do you write from the heart, knowing you’re writing the best you can and someone will eventually publish your work?
I always write the story I want to read. I don’t chase the market or write whatever is popular at the moment. That might change at the drop of a hat and then you’re left with a story that has saturated the market or is just like everyone else’s book. I like to write stories that no one has read. I like standing out and trying to be as original as possible.
How would you describe your writing style and genre?
My writing style is pretty straight forward and the poet in me will add metaphors here and there to help with the description of certain places but I try to keep it so anyone can read my work. The genre’s I prefer are fantasy/magical realism. I’m just fascinated with the idea that magic can occur in the real world. I have absolute faith that magic exists. Maybe not in the way we think it does but there is magic in the world if you know where to look.
I love character-driven novels myself. Can you tell me where you got the ideas for some of your characters and describe a few of them?
My characters come from the most random places. Bianca Frost was inspired by a commercial for a local children’s museum. All of a sudden I had an idea for a book and poof, there she was, eager and ready to tell me her story. And just last week I had a dream about a girl that was trapped inside a computer, I know close to nothing about computers (I can check my email and change the wallpaper on my laptop…that’s about it) so I just go wherever the ideas take me. I’m a fly by the seat of my pants kinda writer (in case you haven’t noticed). And sometimes I’ll have imaginary conversations with my characters while I’m washing the dishes (and yes, I will giggle at some of the things they come up with).
So there’s just no specific place, my characters come from completely random places and that’s what I love about them.
Do you create challenges for your characters to overcome and why?
Yes. Because what’s the point of making things easy for them? Otherwise they’ll never learn, or grow. Life itself is the journey so I have to make things hard for them. I have to give the reader someone to care about.
What challenges you personally in your writing?
Time. I always need more time. I’m a stay at home mom to two beautiful little boys and my day is busy. So I write while my kids are playing in the living room or watching cartoons. I write while I’m cooking. While I’m waiting for my son and nephews to get out of school. When my husband gets home from work I write some more. Weekends. Any free moment I take some time for myself and write while I juggle everything else that’s going on at home.
Do you work on paper or a computer? At home or in an office? What time of day do you write and why? How much do you write a day?
Most of my writing takes place at home in a notebook. I’m old fashioned.
The inevitable: are you a plotter or a pantser?
Pantser. All the way.
Tell us three quirky facts about yourself that we wouldn’t normally find out.
I love chocolate, autumn and a brand new notebook.
Do you have any favorite websites and/or blogs that you avidly follow?
I’m obsessed with facebook. http://www.facebook.com/lizdejesus 😀
Who is your favorite author in the whole world and why.
Terry Moore. He’s the author/artist/creator of Strangers in Paradise. I just love his uncanny ability to tell a story about real people.
And, lastly, who has impacted your writing the most?
My parents. They’re the most incredibly supportive people I know. They’ve encouraged me every step of the way so for that I’m eternally grateful.