If you or one of your books was the answer on jeopardy, what do you imagine/wish the question would be? What was Oprah’s Book Club pick last month?
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk? I always write with my slippers on. Even in the summer.
What is the first book that made you cry? I can’t remember the first book that made me cry but I can remember the most recent: Louisiana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo
Does writing energize or exhaust you? Writing energizes me for quite a long while BEFORE it exhausts me!
About Your Books
Tell us about your book(s)-length of time it took to write, journey, publishing, release dates, etc. I am the author of three picture books and two middle grade novels, including my most recent novel, Lizzy and the Good Luck Girl (Running Press/Hachette 2018). Lizzy and the Good Luck Girl is a story about family, love, friendship, and at its heart, the power of hope. I started writing this book in 2014 and didn’t have a polished manuscript ready for my agent until early 2017. Even though Lizzy and the Good Luck Girl is my fifth published book (I have many more unpublished!) in many ways, the process of writing this particular story involved a lot of firsts for me. By October 2015 I hadn’t gotten very far with my manuscript and so in November 2015, I signed up to participate in NaNoWriMo for the first time ever. NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and writers challenge themselves to complete a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. I was scared to death. Never before had I given myself a deadline to write anything. I used a timer and set a strict schedule for writing (another first!) By the end of the month I hit the 50,000 word goal. Yet my story did not have an ending. I spent most of the summer of 2016 using the wonderful info I culled from a workshop I had taken that spring. Still, when summer ended, my story still had not. It was my wonderful agent Linda who helped me finally figure out what I needed to do to write that elusive ending.
“What’s at the heart of your story?” She asked me. “What does Lizzy want?”
“A sign that everything will be OK,” I answered.
“What does she really want?” she pressed.
“To feel safe,” I said.
But Linda wanted more. Deeper and deeper I dug inside my character’s heart. Until Linda asked, “What do you want? What’s inside your heart?” I always dig deep inside my character to get to the want. But this time, I had to dig deep inside myself. I thought back to a time in my life where I too had suffered a loss like Lizzy. And I too, like Lizzy, had looked to the universe for a sign that everything would be ok. It was a way to cope…a way to feel hopeful. And there it was. The heart of my story…hope. Once I found it, I was able to write the ending and I finished the book by early 2017.
Writing this book, I learned that sometimes it’s important to step out of my comfort zone to get to where I need to go; challenging myself with NaNoWriMo; setting a strict regimen of timed writing periods; and taking a hard look inside myself rather than my character to find the heart of a story. All of these were firsts for me. All of them, crucial to writing this book.
Favorite line or quote from one of your books.
From Lizzy and the Good Luck Girl:
My heart stretched so big it seemed like all the little things inside it could come spilling out.
Describe the character that is most like you.
Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they? Here is a link to a page on my website for tips, suggestions and resources for writers: https://www.susanlubner.com/explore-resources
Leave us with some wise words. What advice would you give the readers of this interview? If you want to be a writer, be a reader! Give yourself permission to write badly (really!) it’s easy to get stifled because of fear of writing something that isn’t “good”. Most first (second, third, fourth, etc) drafts are far from perfect!
Leave some links for us to follow you and buy your books: