Elizabeth Lim, author of highly-anticipated Spin the Dawn (Preorder link), was the first and most surprising to agree to do a Q and A a week before I posted my review for Spin the Dawn. To say I was in shock, thankful and in shock (yes I meant to say that twice), would be an understatement. Not only was I all those things but it gave me the courage to move forth and ask all the other participating authors if they would consider doing the same. So both they, you and I can blame Ms. Lim for this entire Summer Fling. ‘
And while I can’t speak for everyone, I will always be eternally grateful.
1) I read where you talked about a professor telling you that there was too much of your voice in your writing. I was a huge writer in college. I wanted to go into sports journalism until a professor told me it would be a waste of my talent. That pretty much killed my ability to write and I ended up in PR and then Education (not that Education is bad).
Do you think professors need to learn to nurture writers and their love/passion/path rather than what they think should be their path? How can they do that better or maybe How would you do that better?
Ack! I’m so sorry to hear this happened to you. I didn’t take many English classes in college, so I didn’t have many professors that guided me with my writing (the teacher who told me I had too much voice in my writing was my fifth grade teacher!). Of course I think it’s helpful if professors nurture writers and their love for the craft, but what I also think it’s important for we writers to be passionate enough that we don’t need them to. The path to writing a book is filled with so much self-doubt and rejection that it’s so valuable for writers to build resilience and believe in themselves and why they want to write. That being said, writing mentors can come from all walks of life and they need not be professors or even writers themselves. My dearest writing mentors would be my agent and my husband!
2) As you begin the second book in the Blood of Stars series, what progression over time have you seen for yourself as a writer?
I outline a lot more! I think that’s been the biggest change for me as a writer. It’s difficult to write a sequel and end a series without some amount of planning, and given that I was on deadline, I found that a detailed outline helped a lot.
3) Writers always talk about their community of writers- those that they send their work out for critiques and most trusted opinions. Assuming this isn’t a secret society among each writer- who are those you trust to put the brutal in brutal honesty and what is the best constructive criticism they have given you?
My husband’s my alpha reader, and probably the most brutal of my editors. I send him all my work first then I pass it to my critique group, which is two fellow writers whom I’ve known for years and trust. So my community is pretty small, but it works for me!
4) Is fantasy your favorite genre to read, as well as to write- or do you feel the need to read other kinds of genres? Why do you feel yourself drawn to write fantasy? Was there a “homerun” fantasy book that grabbed you and didn’t let go?
Yes, it’s my favorite genre to read, and it always has been! When I read, I love being able to let go of the mundane checklists in my head (like pick up groceries and do the laundry!) and to trust the author to take me to someplace far from reality. I also love fairytales and myths and stories with enchantment, and having grown up devouring as many of them as I could, it fel natural for me to want to write one. There wasn’t a “homerun” fantasy book that grabbed me, but back when I was a kid, I adored Patricia Wrede’s “Dealing with Dragons” series, Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, and pretty much everything by Juliet Marillier and Tamora Pierce.
6) Heidi Heilig’s music comes through For a Muse of Fire through so many different formats. I’ve heard you talk about how your prose often demonstrates your love of music and a lyrical quality. Can you see yourself ever infusing a direct correlation of different formats such as poetry, lyrics etc into your work?
Hah, I did a lot of that in my previous life as a composer. I wrote a lot for voice, so I often worked with poetry or collaborated with playwrights. I haven’t thought too much about what I’d do as a writer, but I’ve definitely sketched out some songs that are related to my characters and books—just not sure if I’ll share them with the public yet!
7) If there is anything you’ve ever wanted to discuss, express or say that you were just dying to be asked or just had an open question to run with– here is your opportunity- SHOOT!
Not too much! Just that SPIN THE DAWN is the story I wish I’d had when I was a teen; it’s full of Chinese culture, fairy tales, and magic, and I’m so grateful that it will be published this year! Hoping readers will love it 🙂
Elizabeth Lim is the author of Spin the Dawn (out 7.9.19 with Knopf BFYR) and Reflection: A Twisted Tale (Disney Press). Raised on a hearty diet of fairy tales, myths, and songs, Elizabeth was a professional film and video game composer before becoming an author. She grew up mostly in the San Francisco Bay Area, and now lives in New York City with her husband and their daughter.