HEIDI'S PICK SIX
1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
That's like asking which of your kids is your favorite. You've done it right if each of them secretly thinks he or she is your favorite. You love the first one so much, because it's just the two of you spending all your time together and everything is a discovery. And you adore your second, because this time you actually know what you're doing and you can enjoy each other in a more relaxed way. And the next one is treasured because she fills a role and a place in your heart the other two left vacant, and she fairly explodes with personality. Wait, are we talking about my characters or my kids?
2. Tell me about your travels.
This is a great question because it gives me a chance to tell you how Rick Steves changed our lives the day I re-upped our NPR pledge and got his travel guide as the thank you premium. (I hope it's ok to plug him here because Heidi covers domestic travel). We learned how to pack a family of five into five carry-on backpacks that everyone could manage. Even the six-year-old could carry her own. We said goodbye forever to the anxiety of lost luggage. Two weeks in Europe, one carry-on bag. It works. I dare you to try it and change your life, too.
Our backpacks have now been to Germany, Hungary, Austria, Greece, Italy, Croatia, Slovenia, and Belize. We've learned that Italian food is, in fact, the universal food of Europe, as commonly accepted as the Euro. Some of the highlights--Mad Ludwig's castles in Bavaria, the Terror Museum in Budapest, the Danube hydrofoil out of Vienna, the Christian and Byzantine Museum in Athens, the Duomo in Florence, the coastal islands of Croatia with their Venetian architecture, and the flower market in Lubljana, capital city of Slovenia. Beautiful, friendly Belize was the source of inspiration for my current Nano novel, with its evocative caves and ancient abandoned cities. The short list doesn’t do justice to the breadth of wonderful experiences waiting out there. And almost everyone speaks a little English.
3. Coffee, tea, or milk?
Actually, being half-British, I wake up to tea in the morning and recharge with tea at mid-afternoon teatime. But my guilty secret is that I bribe myself with a homemade double espresso latte when I sit down to write. It's part of the procrastination and warm-up ritual. Coffee-flavored hot, foamy milk. Calcium and caffeine now appearing together.
4. What else can you do besides write?
I'm a dabbler in life experiences, so I can play the piano a little, play the flute even less. One day I'd like to dabble in classical guitar. I've made sand paintings, silver jewelry, and stained glass--one piece each. I've tried pottery (it blew up) and candy making (far more rewarding). I've taken yoga, tai chi, and a hip hop class for middle-aged women. I started playing tennis more seriously a year ago--that's one that might actually stick because it's something I do with my son. I can sew curtains and costumes, but nothing I'd actually wear outside the house. I can produce a halfway decent knit sweater and a great scarf. I can identify a fairly large number of plants and birds. The things I most enjoy and do well are photography, cooking, and singing.
5. Who are you reading right now?
6. Pop culture or academia?
7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?
8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
9. Food you could eat everyday.
Instant oatmeal, because I have to see if the Quaker Oats promise actually works. But my heart belongs to pizza. If I were stranded on a deserted island and could only have one kind of food air-lifted in, pizza would beat everything else.
10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?
11. What kind of music speaks to you?
12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
I usually start with a protagonist, a premise, and a title. From there on out it's a wild ride of discovery to a vaguely imagined destination. The price paid for leaving the road map to that destination in the glove box is that I've completely rewritten my endings twice. I do make notes about upcoming events, but how they play out in each scene is determined at the keyboard or in longhand scribbles. I love disappearing into the zone, taking dictation from the ether when it happens. Other days, it's just one word after another and hope for the best.
13. Celebrity crush.
14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?
15. Do you still watch cartoons?
Elizabeth Coley is an aspiring author on the cusp of breaking in with her first published novel. She writes speculative fiction for young adults, ranging from starship adventures to near future to alternate history. Her three kids serve as inspiration, first readers, and merciless critics. Her husband generously supports her writing habit. Elizabeth lives in Columbus, Ohio where she regularly attends Context and the Northern Ohio SCBWI conferences.