Today is Wednesday for Blog Me MAYbe. That means that it’s May I tell you something about someone else? day. I wanted to take the opportunity to tell you about someone I met through Blog Me MAYbe. Eliza Tilton. I randomly clicked on her name and found a total kindred spirit. She’s a writer of YA fiction and a gamer (that’s video games, not like poker, folks)! I couldn’t resist the opportunity to do an interview with her.
Me: Welcome, Eliza. And thank you for doing this. Why don’t you give us the quick and dirty guide to you. You know, what do you write, how long have you been writing, what’s your favorite candy… that kind of thing?
Eliza: I write YA, mainly romance but in different categories. My first real novel, not trunked but put aside, is a YA fantasy. My current WIP is a YA contemporary romance
I’ve been writing forever. I used to write tons of adventures in middle school. In the fifth or sixth grade I completed my first book—a 40page pirate adventure, which I still have.
As far as candy, if I HAD to choose only one… sour patch kids FTW! I once ate a pound of them in high school, in one afternoon. Love those things.
Now excuse me while I raid my son’s Easter basket (you can’t talk about candy with a pregnant chick).
Me: LOL! Congratulations!! Your MS & WIP sound cool. I should probably tell everyone that I was super stoked to find out you play/love video games. There are (at least that I’ve met—shout out to my crit partner, Rebekah Purdy though) very few writer/gamers. So, if you HAD to give your top two favorite YA novels and your top two favorite video games, what would they be?
Eliza: Top two? Hmmmmm.
Me: Should I go top five?
Eliza: I don’t know which is harder, the games or books! Yes, FIVE! I can do five.
Me: Okay, Five it is.
Eliza: For five YA books:
Games, this is tough. I think I’ll pick one from each console.
PC: Baldur’s Gate II
PS1: Final Fantasy
Nintendo 64: Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
PS2…. I’m going blank on PS2! LOL One minute…
Me: LOL No worries. I can’t even remember a PS2 game. Though I do have to give a shout out for Phantasy Star Online for the Dreamcast!
Eliza: I still have a Dreamcast.
Me: I totally have a Hello Kitty Dreamcast. I loved that thing.
Me: Okay. Back to business, here. That’s quite a range for books. It seems like you like a darker bent to you stories. Does that play into your writing in some way?
Eliza: Yes. I’m not into funny, chick-lit type stuff. The Iron King has a bit of humor, but it’s more party banter between characters. All of my writing has some kind of dark element, whether it is in a villain or a twisted teenager boy.
Me: Oooh. Twisted teenager boy. That sounds interesting.
For games, I have to ask. Did you like Dragon Age II more than Dragon Age: Origins?
Eliza: YES. There were a lot of great things about Dragon Age, but a few things that dropped the rating: The Deep Roads, the choice with Morrigan at the end and the fact you didn’t get to experience all the results of choices you made throughout the games.
Dragon Age II: I’m on my third play through.
That’s all I need to say. Swoon.
Me: OMG my Hawke is TOTALLY with Fenris. Sigh. He’s the hardest to get. (sorry folks, gamer-talk!) I’m totally (happily) off topic here. On to the next question. So what’s your writing process? Do you belong to a group, or community?
Eliza: I’m a member of YALITCHAT and Query Tracker. Both have been amazingly helpful for different reasons. I met two of my crit partners on query tracker and have had some wonderful help on my queries. YALITCHAT is a great place to meet other bloggers, writers and partake in great contests. They’re having a pitch slam on May 28th.
My writing process is a little backwards.
Me: Love YALITCHAT. I’d love to hear more about how it’s backwards.
Eliza: An idea comes to me, and it can be either the beginning, middle or end. I try to write a quick query or outline. Then I end up writing chapter one, then chapter fifteen. Stories have always come to me in scenes. For example, my current WIP, I had the end, beginning and part of the middle done. I had about twenty pages I needed to write to get me closer to the ending I wanted and I had no idea how I was going to do that, until I had to. Somehow, I always manage to fit all my scenes together to make one story.
I tried writing a book from start to finish… couldn’t do it. I ended up going back to my old ways.
Me: That’s a super interesting method. It sounds really refreshing. Just write what you see and connect it all when you have to. Do you have any writing pet peeves?
Eliza: I’m not a fan of heavy description. I like fast paced novels. Long blocks of description or emotional thoughts make my eyes glaze over. The only downside, I’m always having to add description back into my novel. Where most people have trouble cutting 90,000 words.
Me: That is SO me too! Too funny. I have to confess that I clicked on your name through Blog Me MAYbe because you have one of my favorite names. What kind of names do you go for with your characters? Do you spend a lot of time finding names or researching them? Or do they just sort of come to you when you think of a character?
Eliza: The only name I ever researched was Avikar: YA fantasy. Every other time, the names just pop in my head. Although, I’ve learned to check them. My next project will be a YA futuristic romance. I wanted to name the MC Damien Walters. Then I googled and realized that was a real person!
Me: Oh yes. I wonder what writers did before google. Do you write to music or silence, or, since you’re a mom, the sound of playing? (I’m only a dog mom, and I often write to the sound of the two dogs mucking about the living room)
Eliza: Depends on my mood. I spend my lunch hour at work writing. If the scene calls for it, I’ll put on Pandora on my phone and listen. Most of the time, I’m just happy to be able to write and drown out any unwanted sounds if I need to.
Me: That’s cool. So final question(s). Do you find inspiration in life or through other books, movies, games, or a combo of all of that? Are there any big concepts that really ground or theme your writing? Like ethical dilemmas, first loves, etc.?
Eliza: Everywhere. I can leave church with an uplifting feeling and ready to write, or I can sit outside on a nice day, enjoying the breeze and feel the need to express it. Other books do inspire me. If I read a book that emotionally gets to me, it makes me want to write.
Two big themes that ground me are: Forgiveness and redemption. I guess it’s because I’m a Christian and am super thankful that God decided to give me a second chance. I love watching screwed up characters get that too. The villain becoming the hero, etc.
Me: That’s very cool. I love when villains become the hero too! This conversation just speaks to what a huge gift writing can be, in so many ways. It brings people from a wide variety of backgrounds to common ground.
Thank you so much for taking the time to do an interview. I feel like I’ve mad e anew friend!
Eliza: Thanks! You too!
It was a completely enjoyable interview, and if you’d like more Eliza, check out her blog or follow her on twitter at @ElizaTilton.