Welcome to March! Not only is it the month that Spring returns (though it seems like it’s already here…can you believe this weather?), but it is also marks the return of our annual conference. Are you ready for From Dreaming to Doing?
Today we have a midweek treat with another faculty interview. Please welcome author Mary Fan to the Cyber Café!
Mary is a YA and SFF writer hailing from Jersey City, NJ. She is the author of the Jane Colt novels (Red Adept Publishing), the Firedragon novellas (Glass House Press), and the Fated Stars novellas (Glass House Press). She is also the co-editor the Brave New Girls young adult sci-fi anthologies about girls in science, tech, and engineering, sales of which benefit the Society of Women Engineers scholarship fund.
Mary will be presenting the Saturday breakout “How to Write Inclusively” – The call for diverse books was heard loud and clear, but how can authors respond? Particularly when writing outside their lanes? While there’s no one way to “do diversity right,” keeping certain things in mind can help you write more inclusively without falling into the traps of tokenism, stereotyping, etc. This workshop will provide tips for how to incorporate diversity into your writing and how to avoid common pitfalls even the most well-meaning authors can stumble into.
Now that you’re all settled in, let’s get started. First, how were you inspired to write your current or upcoming release?
My upcoming release, Starswept, is a YA sci-fi romance that combines two of my favorite things: classical music and space. My unofficial tagline is “putting the opera in space opera” ;-). The book’s about a teen violist (that’s not a typo—I mean violist, not violinist :-P), Iris, attending a super-competitive arts school about a hundred years after a race of advanced humanoid aliens first made contact. Born penniless, her one shot at a better life is to get a wealthy alien patron to sponsor her career. Iris’s background and dreams were inspired by my own past as a classical musician (I was a violinist, though I always wanted to play viola too!). And the futuristic setting was inspired by my love of sci-fi, which has been my favorite genre since I was a kid.
Basically, I’ve always been three types of nerd: a book nerd, a classical music nerd, and a sci-fi nerd. This book was my chance to combine them all.
What is your favorite line(s) from this book?
“Even if I stood at the edge of the universe with only my viola and the abyss yawning before me, I’d play to oblivion.”
What powerfully beautiful line. Next, if you followed the career path you chose for yourself in high school, what would you be doing for a living now?
I’d be either a chemical engineer or a filmmaker – two wildly diverging paths, I know! I was pretty good at science in high school and actually got into college as part of the engineering track. Meanwhile, I was really into filmmaking and video production. Part of me still regrets dropping out of engineering, since I think I did it for the wrong reasons. I got discouraged too easily when things got hard, and since no one really had my back, I thought this meant I was too stupid to keep pursuing it, especially since everyone else made it seem so easy (looking back, I want to yell at myself and say: engineering is supposed to be hard). But I ended up majoring in music instead, which was one of the best experiences of my life, so it all worked out, in a way! As for filmmaking… I found my creative outlet through music instead. And writing, of course!
You’ve been locked in a bank vault Twilight Zone style, so you finally have time to read! Your glasses are fine (whew!), so what’s the first book you crack open?
I’ve been wanting to sit down and reread Gone With the Wind forever. I read it first when I was ten and then again as a teen, and for the longest time, it was one of my favorite books. I’m curious to see how it’ll hold up now that I’m older and (hopefully) wiser.
You magically find a $100 bill in your box of cereal. In what frivolous way would you spend it?
I’d hop onto ThinkGeek and get myself some nerdy accessories… Star Wars earrings, Star Trek necklaces, Avengers dishes… Stuff like that 😉
What do you enjoy doing when not writing?
Traveling! I’m a total travel bug… I love visiting new places and doing new things. My goal is to visit all seven continents—including Antarctica—and all 50 states someday. I’d love to do a roadtrip across the U.S.
If you could sum up your best advice for new writers in only four words, what would they be?
Remember to have fun!
Time for the lightning round—no more than four words per answer!
Do you …
Outline or wing it? Outline! Always!
Talk about works-in-progress or keep it zipped? Talk – maybe too much!
Sell by proposal or completed draft? Completed
Prefer writing rough drafts or editing? Editing – blank pages terrify me
Dread marketing or love it? Dread #introvertproblems
Read Kindle or traditional books? Both! Also audio!
And finally, what’s your favorite:
Time to work? Late night
Music to listen to while writing? Silence. Beautiful silence.
Trick to staying motivated? Tweeting word count goals
Pair of shoes? Black boots with chunky heels
Guiltiest pleasure? Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (Love it. Don’t care if everyone else thinks it’s awful)
Line from a movie? “May the Force be with you.”
Classic. Line. Forever. Thanks so much for stopping by, Mary. See you at the conference!
Friends, I know you enjoyed Mary’s interview. If you need to catch up on any others, here’s a list with links:
- Calef Brown, author and illustrator
- Katy Kelly, author
- Andrea Morrison, Literary agent with Writers House
- Leila Sales, Publishing Manager at Viking Children’s Books
- Laura Shovan, poet, author, editor, educator
- Thao Le, Literary agent
- Patricia Hruby Powell, author
- Alyssa Nassner, illustrator and designer
- Liz Kossnar, Associate Editor, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
- Susan Stockdale, author and illustrator
Happy writing and illustrating!