SP: Welcome Gabriela! Before we get into all things DIY MFA, your book, podcast and vision, we would love to hear a bit about you and your writing life! What’s the backstory? What launched you into this writing-DIY journey?
DIY MFA began as an experiment. I was graduating from a traditional MFA program and I loved the program so much I did not want to graduate. So, I was sitting in a rickety old wooden pew of a West Village church for the graduation ceremony and I half expected the skies to part and beams of light to shine down through the stained glass windows and for the literary gods to whisper from on high, “You are now a writer.”
SP: Hi Tara! We’re so excited to have you here on the Spinning Pen! Can you tell us a little about you and your writing journey? How did you get your start? TG: You know that kid who brings a book everywhere? That was me. (My guess is that everyone reading this interview was the same way!) In high school, I wrote as much as I could: on napkins, scraps of paper, pocket notebooks.
In a society where everyone’s DNA determines their destiny, being a Natural means automatic relegation to the gritty and dangerous Outskirts. With the harnessed power of gene-editing, the ability to create a super-human race has transformed the world and offered the opportunity of a genetically enhanced life. But only to those who can afford it.
SP: Hi CJ! So glad to chat with you today! When did you start writing and what are your favorite genres?
CJ: Thank you so much for having me! I started on my writing journey about eight years ago. I wanted a story I could hand to the teen and young adult girls I was talking to, who needed a reprieve from the pain they were facing in their lives, but also a way to learn deeper truths.
Please join me in welcoming S.F. Rhoads to The Spinning Pen! Sandra was born in Queens and raised in Texas where she earned an MA in her seventeenth-century crush, John Milton. This talented author also has experience in acting, directing, and script writing!
SP:Hi Sandra! How did you start writing YA fiction specifically, and what made you decide to pursue that professionally?(Also, I’m dying to know who your other literary crushes are!)
Sandra: I love talking about story, process, and creativity but what I love most is to encourage others to see their talents/art as valuable and important gifts to the world, so thanks for having me as a guest!
A little about me: I’ve always been a storyteller and writer, although it wasn’t necessarily on paper. Mainly I’d create fantasy worlds in my daydreams while I was on the playground or doing chores.
SP: Hi JJ! Thanks for joining us on the Spinning Pen. Before we get into book stuff, we’d LOVE to hear a bit about you and your writing journey! When did it all start?
JJF: It’s wonderful to be here! Thanks so much for having me.
Oh, where to begin? So, I started writing my first novel at age fourteen. I was on a family holiday touring Australia, in a place called Jurien Bay in Western Australia, when I had a dream of the opening scene of a novel. It contained just about every story cliché you can imagine, and was ditched VERY quickly, but I kept on working on that novel for years…plus, “Jurien” later became the first name of my villain. I’m sneaky like that.
Writers may feel that they are stronger in one of two areas: either being plot-driven or character-driven in their craft. While I love a strong plot-driven story, I think that having memorable characters makes a book stand out in the mind more.
Pop quiz- think of a book you love. Is it because of the amazing plot, or is it a character that’s unforgettable?
SP: Hi Caitlin! Welcome back to the Spinning Pen! Before we get into book stuff, we’d LOVE to know a bit about you and your writing journey! Where did this all start for you? What has your writing journey been like? What other books have you written?
CS: I’ve been writing since I was in middle school, though back then it was more like advanced plagiarism, since I would just rewrite stories I really liked, only badly (Alanna the Lioness, anyone?). I never considered writing stories as a thing I could do in a professional capacity, since it seemed like writing in school was focused on really boring stuff I wasn’t interested in, and all the books I read were so, so perfect, it didn’t seem like actual humans could write them.
But then after I’d already graduated from college, my sister got a book deal and it suddenly clicked in my mind that people write books and that I could potentially be one of those people. I had just read The Hunger Games series and immediately began writing a YA dystopia, which I eventually got agented and sold to Simon and Schuster, which became my first published books, the Last Star Burning series. While I was writing those, I had a secret backburner middle grade project I’d work on between deadlines called A Baker’s Guide to Robber Pie because my first love in books has always been fantasy and I couldn’t not try to write fantasy even if I went dystopia first.