Emily Whitman

Read more about Emily Whitman.

Interview By: Tamazon

Date: October 27, 2010

Emily Whitman's Web Site

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Wildwing. Greenwillow/HarperCollins. YA. Release date: 9/21/2010. ISBN 9780061724527.

Please tell us your latest news!

I'll be on the faculty of SCBWI Oregon's Spring Conference, May 13 and 14, and am excited about the workshops I'll be doing. That's the first writer's conference I ever went to, and I love connecting with people around writing. (http://www.scbwior.com/events/spring.html). Also, a nice Kirkus review for Wildwing calls Addy "an engagingly inventive heroine" in "an absorbing fictional world that will hook readers from the first page."

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

Always! I'm told that the painter Degas used to go up to his paintings on people's walls and pull out his paints and start fixing things. With Wildwing, I'm dying to write about what happens next. You get to know these people, their relationships, there are all these possibilities, and then it's over too soon.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

When it comes to authors, I can't choose one; I'm an omnivore. Right now I am in love with Karen Russell's story, "St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves." I love the unexpectedness of it, the wit, the sharpness, the humor with savage and true revelations underneath. And that last line. Oh my God, that last line.

Do you see writing as a career?

A career, a passion, a need, a frustration, a process of discovery.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I was always interested in poems, in anything that rhymed and scanned, maybe because my mother put us to sleep at night by sitting on a hamper in the hall between our rooms and singing endless old English ballads about girls tied to the rocks by their hair and drowned by the incoming tide. Great stuff. Soon I was writing my own poems, stories and songs. We played a game in the car where we'd give each other song titles and have to make up a rhyming song on the spot. I loved that.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Remember that writing comes in two parts. The first part is about discovery. Let it be as messy and crazy as it needs to be. Once you've got a voice, a story, words on the page-then you're ready for the second part: whipping it into shape, starting to think about conventions, spelling, whether to replace one word with another. Don't let that second part sneak its way in too early!

How does your family feel about having a writer in the family? Do they read your books?

My family is proud as can be that I write and have books out in the world. They're great supporters of my work. But the reading part is all over the map. My daughter reads my drafts and gives me incredible feedback-she sees right to the heart of a story, and calls it like it is. She's just gone off to college. My husband reads my books once they're finished. As for my son, a college senior, he hasn't read any of my books yet-but he recently asked me to send copies for friends, and I sent them off with the condition he read the latest one. We'll see! I understand that romantic teen fiction isn't his usual reading matter.

Do you write full time? What did you do before you became a writer? Or Still do?

Before my first novel, I was working in library reference and leading storytimes, and writing passages for educational publishers. When I got my book contract, I started writing novels full time.

What is your writing process? Do you outline, fly by the seat of your pants or a combination of both?

Process! What an orderly word for something as disorderly as the way I work. I just have to get past the blocks in my head and start writing. If a story is too worked out in advance, I lose interest. If there's nothing to head towards, it's hard to have forward momentum. So it's a delicate balance. I start with a basic idea, then start writing scenes and begin to figure out how to string them together. Later, when I've got something fairly solid, actual detailed outlines start to appear. So I'll have a general plan, but what happens on the page changes that plan over and over again.

Do you have a favorite object that is pertinent to your writing? If so what is it and please describe it. (Pen, Coffee Cup, Pet, Blanket, Chair)

I write longhand, so I'm a pen junkie. In college I wrote with fountain pens to get the ideal flow of ink, the perfect tension on the page. Now I use a rolling ball pen. My current favorite is a Pilot Precise Rolling Ball V5 extra fine.

Do you have a ritual when it comes to writing? Example..get coffee, blanket, paper, pen and a comfy place

Caf‚.right balance of music, talk, noise.coffee, nibble.yellow legal pad, pen.start writing.draw vicious lines through first sentences.tell myself I'm not allowed to cross anything else out.move pen until story starts to flow.

What main genre do you write in?

Teen / Young Adult

Thanks so much for having me here at Night Owl Reviews! I hope you'll visit me on my website.

All my best,