First, I would like to thank you for having me here.
1. Please tell me a bit about you
I was born and raised in Chicago, the youngest of five. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a minor in Criminal Justice. I wanted to change the world after college, or at least change the life of a child. I’ve worked in foster care, mental health, and now I work with an organization advocating for Latino families in Illinois. I strongly believe that our youth have great potential and education is key to moving forward. I am a proud mom of four, ages 18, 14, 8, and 2, the youngest being my girl.
I began writing when I was fourteen. I was always drawn to the world of magic and sorcerers mixed in with a little Stephen King. After my first rejection at sixteen was accompanied by a post-it stating that I needed work with dialogue, I stopped trying to get published with the erroneous belief that writing was something you were born with. Had I known that critique was a good sign, I would have continued. Mid-life crisis and a need to revert back to my purpose in life, brought me back to writing, and in 2009 I decided to give it a go again.
2. You write fantasy, could you explain what has been your experience so far?
Writing fantasy takes a lot of work. Readers want to be drawn into an experience and adventure that takes them out of the “normal”. Because fantasy is such a popular genre, the writer needs to be a lot more creative and think outside the box. There is no room for lazy writing or you risk your own creativity. I learned this the hard way when a fellow blogger asked what was different about my world than the others already written.
Writing fantasy incorporates worldbuilding, linguistics, and culture, and not to mention technology and nature. I love reading and writing it and have learned loads from this first manuscript.
3. What determines your characterizations?
My characters are drawn from real people, and characters in movies and books. This helps me make sure that my characters have a distinct voice and personality. I’m always thinking… what would this person do or say? I am drawn to strong female characters. I am also intrigued by the story of the bad boy. RA Salvatore wrote the Sellswords series that tells the story of Artemis Entreri, a bad guy who I found intriguing. I like digging deep, beyond the physical to look for my characters.
4. Women in the old days were always seen as romance writers but more women are beginning to write fantasy and there is the lady J K ROWLING? Are we likely to have another lady upstage her successes soon?
I think successes such as JK Rowling are scary business and not the norm for authors. She has been blessed with the legacy that is Harry Potter, but on the tail end, her future work may be shadowed by it as well. Will we see other success stories? Sure. We had another fad with Stephanie Meyers and the Twilight series. People are always looking for the next new thing.
5. Do you have any book in the offing right now?
I’ve actually written a young adult contemporary manuscript that is out with a few agents right now. I don’t want to say I’ve totally given up on fantasy, but I tend to write stories I feel need to be told. I’ve written a paranormal romance, a dystopian young adult, and am working on another YA contemporary.
6. What other genre of creative writing interests you?
I read anything that moves me. If I’m not drawn to the character in the first chapter, I usually give up. I have very little time during the day, and have a short attention span, so the book has to offer something for me to keep reading. As for writing, I write what I love to read.
7. You are married, have young children, have a regular job, write and blog as well how do you juggle all these?
This is a tough one. I use every minute of every day. My day job requires me to be in the community more than half the time and I find that my car is a very good place to brainstorm projects, and to listen to audio books. I purchased a digital recorder to record plot points and character arcs as I drive. I carry a notebook everywhere I go to jot down any thoughts and scenes that pop up. At home, I write early in the morning and/or after the family has settled for the evening. My older kids help out as well. My current manuscript is actually about the relationship between me and my oldest son. It’s told from his point of view. I told him about this project and he was very excited to read it. So far, he loves the first couple of pages and has offered to provide some scenes for the story. I was worried that he wouldn’t be too keen on the idea. My 14 year old now wants me to write a story using him as a main character. Needless to say, it worked out great and brought us closer. It is a balancing act based on priority and I do what I can. It seems to be working so far.
8. How do you handle those little rejection slips?
Rejection? What rejection? **smiles**
I think of them as passed opportunities. I believe your mindset is very important and language tends to reflect that mindset and so I deleted “rejection” from my vocabulary. Surprisingly, I take it very well, so far. After Shadow, my fantasy MS, didn’t garner any requests, I started looking at it a bit more critically. I strongly believe that writing is something that can be taught. And publishing is a business and like all business, people need to make money. End of story. They don’t care that you poured your heart out and neglected house and family for two years to write it. They think about cost/benefit. Is it marketable, can they sell it? As a writer, I have to think the same way. I try not to think of writing as subjective. It is. I know. But that mindset will allow me to use it as an excuse and not to look at my manuscript a bit more critically. Overall, in the end of the day, I keep learning, writing, and moving forward. Nothing has changed by those passed opportunities. I am still here.
9. Who are your favorite authors/books
I like JK Rowling (I would totally read a prequel to Harry Potter), Stephen King, Dean Koontz, RA Salvatore, Sherillyn Kenyon and others. I add to the list every year as I read more and more.
10. Your greatest influence
My parents. I am because of them, strengths and weaknesses.
11. As a mother, have you ever wondered on some of the effects of books on children?
Yes. I monitor what my kids read, watch, and play. I have to. I don’t agree with banning books, but I need to know what they are reading in order to have a conversation about it afterwards. I do worry about how some YA books tend to romanticize certain themes: vampires, werewolves and the weakling in between. I will not say more.
If you’d like to find out more on what I’m up to, you can visit me at http://chandarawrites.blogspot.com
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