Recently I had the opportunity to interview YA author, Rebecca Taylor, whose debut novel Ascendant was released only a couple of days ago. When Rebecca posted that she would like people to read and review Ascendant, I jumped at the chance! Here is our conversation about Ascendant, the writing process, and writing YA.
Amanda Marie: Hi Rebecca! I just wanted to start by congratulating you on the publication of your first YA novel Ascendant. That’s no small feat!
Rebecca Taylor: Thank you so much Amanda and especially for this opportunity!
Amanda: What would you like your readers to know about you and your writing process?
Rebecca: Well I suppose being an introvert is very helpful to writing—you spend a lot of time alone inside your own head whether you’re sitting in front of your computer or just working out a story while staring into space and so I think, for me, writing is a natural outlet for my tendency to daydream. As far as the actual writing process, thus far my routines have been guided heavily by the time of year. I also work as a school psychologist during the school year, and as many writers are aware, there are only so many hours in a day. Often, I will get up around four in the morning when I’m working so that I can keep the story moving and fresh in my head. In the summer I’m able to produce much more as I’m only hindered by my own procrastinations. When I’m working on a rough draft, I try to shoot for at least a thousand words per day in the summer—most days I hit that or come very close.
Amanda: What was your inspiration for Ascendant?
Rebecca: As I think is probably the case with any inspiration, it was more a series of ideas, insights, and books that began coming into my life. It may have started off with reading The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho several years ago. After that there were tons of articles and books I read on Alchemy, Freemasonry, our founding fathers, Francis Bacon, Shakespeare (the true author)—I could go on and on. Needless to say, I was completely hooked. I realized there is so much knowledge in the world, the stuff you learn in school, yes, but much, much more. It’s just out there, waiting to be picked up and applied to your life—and many people don’t, or are not even aware or interested—I wanted to write a book about a girl who was being introduced to all this magic in the world. I’ve always been a highly curious person and so I loved the idea of Charlotte starting out on this journey, on this pursuit of the universal knowledge. She is learning that power is derived from understanding and then application of that knowledge. Something, quite frankly, I’ve been learning myself.
Amanda: Your novel Ascendant is about a young girl piecing together clues to find her mother. How would you describe your main character, Charlotte?
Rebecca: She is very smart, but she lacks confidence. She is deeply wounded by her mother’s disappearance and the loss of her as a role model and confidant. Charlotte reads a ton and especially loves Shakespeare—her mother’s favorites.
Amanda: What is your favorite thing about writing YA? (Or favorite things if you have more than one—I know I do).
Rebecca: I like that you can toy with the fantastical and maybe get away with more than a strictly adult audience would allow. I also LOVE the emotional component of YA, the introspection, the intense feelings usually present, first love, new love, that yearning attraction—and even though I don’t write YA romance, some sort of romance is usually present in YA. It’s all pretty addictive. Also, as a psychologist, I love that time in human development in general. It’s the time of life when you are taking what is given to you as a child, and becoming your own person—or not. Very powerful stuff either way.
Amanda: Do you have any helpful hints or advice for other YA writers?
Rebecca: As soon as possible, find your center as a writer. The thing about writing is, unless you put everything in a closet, you will one day be in the position to be listening to feedback, critique, and yes, REVIEWS. People have lots of opinions—lots and lots of opinions. It is your job to:
- Not take it personally (the good or the bad.) Your writing is not a measure of your self worth.
- Recognize the useful critique
- Discard/ignore the non-useful
- Eventually get to the point when you recognize when another’s words are more about them, personally, than your writing. (This is VERY IMPORTANT)
- Always be professional—even when someone else is not. Especially when someone else is not.
Also, if people in your life have expressed the notion to you that you have a scrap of talent for writing—hang on to that. Nurture it. Give time to it. Honor that and don’t give up—because there is nothing like the rejection ratios of a writing career to make a faint hearted person give up. That said, be honest with yourself—do you believe you have a talent for writing? Why do you want to be a writer? Are story ideas like an itch you must scratch with words on a page? Before I ever even imagined that I might one day write a book, or even that I could, people in my life would tell me I was a good writer—long before I really knew what those words even meant. Have people in your life, teachers, friends, critique partners expressed this to you? Do you know good writing when you hear it? When you feel it?
Now, that does not mean, apparently, that talentless individuals don’t find their way into a published writing career—because they absolutely do. Some reviewers may even suggest I am a case in point :).
Amanda: Who is one YA author that you look up to and admire?
Rebecca: Franny Billingsly.
Amanda: Recommend a book you think we should read!
Amanda: Thank you for taking the time to talk with me and answer my questions. I can’t wait to read and review Ascendant!
Rebecca: Thank you Amanda for this opportunity, I really appreciate it. Also, if any other bloggers are interested in having me hang out on their sites—I would love to!
Find Rebecca Here: