You guys, I’m SO excited to introduce you to my newest CP, Erin Steele. Erin and I found each other during WriteOnCon; we both were working on our YA Gothics at the time, and everyone knows that girls who write creepy books have to stick together. Anyway, we hit it off immediately, and the rest is history. Erin’s funny, talented, and gives THE BEST feedback. BE JEALOUS, y’all. – Jenny
Describe yourself in four words.
I. Can’t. Do. That.
Community. Crafts. Food. WifeMom.
Yeah, I made up a word.
How did your writing adventure begin? (When did you know you wanted to be a writer?)
I always wanted to be a writer. I was a voracious reader as a kid, everything from Babysitters Club to The Hatchet. All of my birthday/holiday money went to buying journals where I wrote multiple stories about girls named Veronica. I didn’t actually start writing until after I read Divergent about 2 years ago. I remember thinking…hey, oh yeah, I wanted to do this.
What stage of your noveling adventure are you at right now?
I’m in the learning-how-to-power-through-self-doubt and keep-doing-what-I-love stage. I’m not agented, but I’ve had some really great feedback and made some really great connections as of late. (*waves* HI JENNY!) Those two things have lit a fire under me. Seriously, people. Find a CP. Enter a contest, and find one that way. You won’t hate yourself for it.
What book or writer has inspired you?
Ohh golly. Maggie Stiefvater all day long. I want to curl up inside her books and live there. The Raven Cycle in particular, but I loved Scorpio Races as well. I’d read those books over and over, preferably with a Ray LaMontagne or Punch Brothers album going in the background. And soy chai latte. In the fall.
Anne Lamott, but not just because of Bird by Bird—I read two of her memoirs first actually. Oh, oh. Also. Barbara Kingsolver. She’s my jam.
I LOVED the Grisha Trilogy; Daughter of Smoke and Bone series; Eleanor and Park; The Spectacular Now; Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe; aaaand yes, The Fault in Our Stars.
I could keep going but you get the idea.
What are you working on right now?
I’m working on a story about a girl named Emma Gene who is ready to ditch what’s left of her dysfunctional family when she leaves for college. She is summoned to her dad’s hometown to claim the contents of an expired safety deposit box, and she gets sucked into a scavenger hunt he laid out for her before he died. She does some Back to the Future style time travel via magical pictures of her father’s childhood, and she learns some harsh truths about her family. She’s left to decide if she can forgive or if it’s too late, and it’s time to forget.
What inspired you to write this book?
My husband and I were at the beach with my aunt and uncle a few years ago, and my aunt launched into this oral family history that left my jaw on the ground. I’ve got some serious awesome going on with my dad’s side of the family! Pair that experience with the Kodak Stereo slides from the 50s I found and converted to digital images, and I’m hooked on telling these stories.
What’s a quick, three-song playlist for your book?
1. Big Black Car – Gregory Alan Isakov
2. Call Me on Your Way Back Home – Ryan Adams
3. Cold is the Night – The Oh Hello’s
Are you a Plotter or Pantser?
I’m some kind of hybrid of the two, which seems to be common among writerly types. When I do plot, the outline is very rough and I wind up chasing rabbit trails for days. I plotted the mess out of my 2nd MS, and kinda followed it—which felt like an achievement. But this current one doesn’t have any structure right now, and I’m enjoying that.
What’s your favorite part of writing?
My favorite is the moments when all the different strands come together perfectly. Like, when that metaphor you’ve been cultivating since the beginning accidentally shows up toward the end and you didn’t even mean to do that.
I really love creating characters too, just because I love people and the complexities that make us who we are. It’s fun to mix and match those things in characters. Again, I steal from Maggie Stiefvater. She did a keynote at SCBWI about stealing people from real life and making your characters even better. Here’s that link: http://maggiestiefvater.com/blog/artist-thief-an-excerpt-from-my-scbwi-keynote-for-those-who-werent-there/
What’s one piece of advice you’d like to give to fellow adventurers?
Just keep going. When you feel like a failure and that voice in your head says, “I’ll NEVER do this properly, and who am I kidding, and this is the worst choice and I hate it, I hate it, I hate it!!!” Ignore that voice. Keep pushing. Find something about your MS that you love, and work on that bit until you have an entire book that you love too much to keep quiet about it. Don’t let harsh critique stop you—it’s a necessary evil and you’ll be better for it. Don’t surround yourself with overly kind folks who’ll lull you into mediocrity. Find trusted support, and then run after this thing with all you’ve got.
About Erin: Erin Steele is a stay-at-home mom to two ginger babies, and one ginger dog. She finds time to write between episodes of Power Rangers and tae kwon do, aka Ninja Class. She lives outside Atlanta and when not writing, you’ll find her crocheting, sewing and drinking lots of coffee. Or watching Scandal. Or on twitter: @erinjsteele.