ILLUMINAE Authors Visit Northern Colorado (Part 2 of 2)

In Part 1, five best-selling Young Adult authors talked about their latest novels during an Old Town Library event co-sponsored by Old Firehouse Books on Oct. 27.

In Part 2 below, they discussed authors who influenced them, how they make time for writing in their busy lives, and the importance of taking care of your health while obsessed with finishing your first draft.

Illuminae  co-author  Jay Kristoff  started reading Stephen King when he was 10 years old. He’s read all of King’s books and stories.

He’s the one author who, if I met, I’d lose my shit,” he said in a sheepish tone, his voice trailing off. He’s currently re-reading Salem’s Lot.

I enjoy working on multiple books and in multiple voices,” Jay said. When he gets tired of one project, he can work on another. He advocates challenging yourself by experiencing different types of storytelling: films, books, graphic novels, etc.

 Amie Kaufman,  Illuminae co-author, said she’s enjoying an advanced reader copy of The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virture by Mackenzi Lee, which will be published in February.

As a young writer,  Seeker author  Arwen Elys Dayton, enjoyed the stories of Ray Bradbury and Kurt Vonnegut because they were about “our world, but something is different.”

Those are the books I’ll go back to,” she said.

These days, she’s re-reading Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which she finds “comforting,” and the third book in the Cormoran Strike mystery series by Robert Galbraith (a.k.a. J.K. Rowling), “which was like eating cake,” she said.

Although  Jessica Cluess, author of A Shadow Bright and Burning, meticulously researches whatever era she writes about, she talked about historical fiction versus historical fantasy and using the excuse, “It’s an alternate timeline!” if a reader points out something they believe is inaccurate.

Jess also mentioned learning a lesson about killing your darlings (well-known advice in the writing world). She used the name of a specific dance in her novel but her editor changed it to “a lively dance.” When Jess protested, her editor said, “No one cares about the mazurka!” (Wikipedia defines mazurka as “a Polish folk dance in triple meter, usually at a lively tempo….”)

She laughs about it now, and said she’ll give her editor a pillow bearing those words when she finishes writing the last book in the series.

When it comes to making time for writing, Jess showed commitment to her craft even when working two full-time jobs. She wrote for 30 minutes every day.

In contrast,  And I Darken  author  Kiersten White didn’t write for a year after she gave birth.

Never sacrifice your relationships with your family. I have no social life,” Kiersten said with a smile. “I’m OK with that. You need to take care of your own health and relationships, and other than that, cut out things viciously.”

Arwen – who said she’s pitching a new novel she describes as “The Breakfast Club goes to Starfleet Academy” – was able to write more when her three children got older. Before that, she’d feel guilty about not writing as much as she wanted to.

You’ll figure out what you can live without,” she said, “and you’ll have this thing you created. If it’s important to you, you’ll find a way to do it.”

Jay said he’d write for an hour during his lunch break when he worked in advertising, which usually meant 1,000 words per day and a complete draft in three months. “Playing video games wasn’t as important as this,” he said.

Writing for 20 minutes produces half a page, Amie said. Even if you write only 15 minutes per day, “it keeps you in the brain space” of your story.

Be careful to meet your body’s basic needs if you binge-write all day, all night, and all weekend. Amie said she ended up in the hospital with a kidney infection because she didn’t take care of her health while writing. She laughs about it now:

You can daydream during those times.”

Katherine Valdez loves food too much to forget to eat while binge-writing. She recently completed reading Undermajordomo Minor by Patrick deWitt (and still does not have a crush on the author, really), is almost finished with Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng (which made her cry, especially after reading the last paragraph of Chapter 10), and looks forward to diving into her Owlcrate gift Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst, which the author calls “a traditional fantasy book in which the princess falls in love with another girl.”

Follow Katherine at Secrets of Best-Selling Authors: and say howdy to Katherine on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, Amazon, and Medium.


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