1. Where do you get your ideas?I get ideas from childhood memories, found objects, overheard conversations, newspaper headlines, and strange-sounding words. Sometimes my ideas are triggered by a nursery rhyme, a folktale, a song, an actual place or an experience. Travelling in China, hearing a cougar in my yard, seeing an erupting volcano -- these experiences have all worked their way into my stories.
2. When did you write your first book?My first book was published in 1990. I now have eight books published, with four coming out in 1996.
3. How long does it take you to write a book?It took me two years to write WHITE JADE TIGER. I spent the first year doing research and developing the story. I was teaching full time, so I could only work on the book during weekends and holidays. The second year was spent revising the story, doing more research, and polishing the story.
4. What advice do you have?Here's my advice for anyone who wants to write. Read a lot, write every day (or as often as possible) and start collecting ideas. Also, believe in yourself as a writer.
5. Is it hard to write?I never think of writing as hard, because I enjoy it so much. Sometimes it's challenging, sometimes it's frustrating, but it's always rewarding. It definitely takes a lot of time and discipline, because no matter how much idea-collecting you do, eventually you have to sit down and WRITE! It helps to keep a regular writing schedule.
6. Who inspired you?Nobody really inspired me. Creating magic through words and stories -- that's what inspired me to become an author. I love playing with words, I love exploring in my imagination, and I love books.
7. Do you do a lot of research?Research is great fun! Sometimes it involves travelling, or reading old newspapers in the Archives, or studying old photographs and maps. Sometimes it involves talking to people. I've interviewed counsellors, a doctor, a firearms expert, a conservation officer -- even my dad, who taught me all about fishing lures. And research always involves a certain amount of background reading.
8. What tools do you use?I always carry around a notebook and pen in case I get an idea. Once I have an idea I want to develop into a story, I write it on my Macintosh computer. Then I print it and do the revisions by hand. My other materials are a good dictionary, a thesaurus, and LOTS of paper.
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