It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #IMWAYR is a weekly blog…
Meet Author Colleen Nelson
3 Little Known or Interesting Things About You
1 I have lived in Japan, New York City and Winnipeg.
2 My dog Rosie (a West Highland Terrier) comes to school with me a few days a week. She is our unofficial ‘comfort dog’.
3 My dream for a long time was to go to visit as many countries as years I’d lived. Sadly, I got stalled when my son was born. At one point, I was only five away from my goal. Now I’m really, really far away from it. Sigh.
Hogwarts House and/or Camp Halfblood Cabin (If you have not been sorted or if you have not taken a quiz, I have linked them for you.)
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Report cards! When I have a ton of marking or report cards to write, I have to push writing off and it pains me, but for my own mental health, it’s important to not take on too much at one time.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I have lots of Canadian writer friends, but sadly don’t get to see them very often. They are incredibly supportive, which is how they’ve helped me become a better writer. I love seeing the huge range of ideas and how creative my friends are. Two close friends who also live in Winnipeg are Maureen Fergus and Jodi Carmichael. We try to get together every few weeks to share our successes and frustrations.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
Sometimes I find a book that I ADORE and it falls flat with my students. One that I really, really, really loved was called The Road to Ever After. It was a gorgeous book, but it didn’t grab my students.
How do you balance making demands on the reader with taking care of the reader?
I want to make sure there are uplifting and humorous moments throughout the book and also leave the reader with a sense of hope at the end of the book. As for demands, I hope the language is exciting and readers are left to wonder about a few things. It’s okay not to give away all the answers–it’s a way for readers to imagine what they would write.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot or avatar?
Anything wearing pajamas, because I write as soon as I wake up. Well, after a cup of strong coffee!
About Your Books
Tell us about your book(s)-length of time it took to write, journey, publishing, release dates, etc.
‘Harvey Comes Home’ is my 8th book and every book’s journey has been very different.
I wrote ‘Harvey Comes Home’ over about six months. I spent a lot of time researching and interviewing family members to get the historical parts right. When it was ready, I sent it to Pajama Press, a Canadian publisher.
‘Harvey Comes Home’ was in the Inbox of Pajama Press’s editor for a year before I heard from her. There were things she liked about the manuscript, but a bunch of stuff that she wanted me to work on and then resubmit. Of course, she was 100% correct! She worked with me to flesh out Austin’s voice and when she thought it was ready she sent it to the publisher who loved it right away. I am so grateful for my editor for taking the time to work with me on the manuscript.
They officially accepted it on my birthday and then the book was released about a year later which was pretty fast considering Tara Anderson had to get all the art work done in that short amount of time. (She only had about 4 months between getting the manuscript and when the drawings had to be ‘poured’ into the file which goes to the printer).
I have another Harvey book out in July 2020 and it was written in 2 months! It made a big difference knowing the characters as well as I did. Writing it was a dream–and wait until you see Tara’s illustrations! They will melt your heart!
Favorite line or quote from one of your books.
Oh, geez. That’s a tough one. I always try to make the last line a real zinger. I guess the last line in ‘Harvey Comes Home’ was a good one because it makes reference to the different homes Harvey has found and that as long as you find love, you are home.
Describe the character that is most like you.
The main character, Tori, in my first book, Tori by Design, is most like me. She loves to sew and is interested in fashion and makes a bit of a fool of herself once in a while. She is also a prairie girl who moves to New York City, which was what I wanted to do when I was young. It happened that I met and married a man who worked in New York, so for about ten years, we split our time between New York and Winnipeg. It was during this time that I started writing ‘Tori by Design’.
Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?
Write every day! It takes a long time to get good at something, so don’t be discouraged! And don’t compare yourself to other writers. The world has lots of room for all kinds of writers and we all have a different path–some of us take longer to get where they want to go than others.
Leave us with some wise words. What advice would you give the readers of this interview?
I get my best ideas when I’m taking my dog for a walk. If you’re stuck on a scene, or have a problem you can’t write your way out of, go for a walk and things will figure themselves out.