Today on the blog I’m talking to author Patty Blount. A self-confessed chocoholic, Patty is the author of the young adult novels SEND (Sourcebooks Fire 2012) and the forthcoming TMI (Sourcebooks Fire 2013).
Talk a little bit about your journey toward becoming an author. When did you decide you wanted to write for kids and teens?
I didn’t decide to write YA until the story found me. I just write what I like. I have some mysteries, contemporary romances and YA manuscripts on my hard drive, but SEND (my debut novel) wouldn’t let me go.
Tell us about the SEND. (I’ll looking forward to reading it! Sounds awesome.)
SEND is story about Dan, a former bully whose stupid click of a button caused a classmate’s suicide. He’s trying hard to cope with that guilt and doesn’t always do such a great job. The story opens five years after his crime at another new school where he is immediately faced with a choice: ignore the fight he sees about to start or try to prevent it. That decision would be a no-brainer for anybody else but him.
How do your stories come to you? Do you begin with a character? A concept? A plotline?
SEND came to me in the form of a character. I wondered how a kid would live with that kind of guilt — the permanent kind. The kind that an “I’m sorry” just can’t fix.
Do you work from an outline?
I do work from outlines, which I think comes from my day job as a technical writer. It helps me stay focused and make the most of what little time I have to devote to my craft.
What time of day do you write? Do you have a certain process?
I write in the evenings after work and on weekends, when I can fit in more time. I write in blocks I call ‘scenes’ even though my agent says they’re really ‘passages.’ Visualizing a scene helps me nail the right balance among tone, mood, goals and conflict.
What does a good day of writing for you look like? How about a bad day?
A good day is when I look up and discover hours have passed me by while I was living in my story. A bad day is when I stare at a screen with no plan for translating what I see in my mind. In Stephen King’s “On Writing,” King says writing is telepathy. He can make you see and feel and even smell what he wants if he does his job well. That’s always my goal.
How do you balance writing time vs. marketing?
Good question — I’ll let you know when I’ve figured that out! There are only so many hours between work and bedtime that I’d like to use for writing more stories, but a published author needs to maintain a social presence, a website, promotions and ads, and — this is the best part — engage her fans. Whenever I hear from a reader, I drop everything to respond appropriately, even if it’s just a “Thanks for reading my book!”
What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever gotten?
“Never ever ever ever give up.” That came from a friend of mine and I paid it forward, sharing the same advice with another writer who was ready to quit.
Tell us about your next book.
“TMI” is text shorthand for Too Much Information. It’s about two best friends whose friendship unravels online, one secret at a time. Like SEND, it deals with the dangers of the internet, but from a different perspective.
How can people find you?
I’m on Twitter as @pattyblount. On Facebook as Patty Blount Novels. I’m also on Goodreads and Pinterest and Tumblr, but I don’t quite yet know how to use those networks.