By Amber Bell
How do you answer the question, “Oh, you’re an author? What do you write?”
I don’t think I have ever answered this question! Sometimes people are skeptical of writing as a career, though. I usually tell them that I love stories and creating characters. I write screenplays and books, usually in the romantic genre.
How would you describe your writing to someone not familiar with your work?
I would say that my writing is character-driven. I love writing characters based on people around me. I try to really delve into that character as much as possible. Plus, there’s always a romantic element! I love romance.
Which of your characters would you like to have as a best friend and why?
Sophie Shelton–my protagonist in the These Four Years series could easily be my best friend. I wrote her based on some of my own qualities. She’s different, of course, but we would get along great because we are similar. And we are both hopeless romantics.
If you had to switch places with one of your characters for a week who would you
choose and why?
I would switch places with Stacy James! She’s so bold and confident. Sometimes I wish I had that kind of confidence. It’d be cool to see me like that, even if it didn’t last forever. Maybe I could learn something from her!
Which character has been the most difficult to write and why?
Male characters are always the hardest to write. I often worry that I don’t get the voice correct. Male and female characters just sound different. I know how females sound because I am one, but writing male characters really takes focus. I try to listen in on solely male conversations sometimes! That helps, even if it is eavesdropping!
Would you say your writing style is more character driven or plot driven?
My writing style is definitely character-driven. I learned to write like this as a screenwriting undergrad. In my opinion, characters drive plot. Without good characters, does your plot even matter that much?
You have a degree in Screenwriting. How does writing a screenplay differ from
writing a novel?
Screenwriting is very different. For instance, screenwriting is all about the dialogue and the character. You don’t need much prose. That is up to the actors and director. But writing dynamic characters is key. The dialogue has to stand out. We use the term, “on the nose,” often. If you’ve heard something before, it’s probably “on the nose.” Screenwriting requires a lot of time focusing on the dialogue, rather than the setting and the action.
Which of your stories have you had to do the most research for? What does your
research process look like?
I didn’t have to research much for A Lovestruck Freshman (book one in These Four Years series) because it truly came from lots of observations I had in college. But when I do research, I use Google, of course, but I also try to find someone who can give me insight. I like firsthand knowledge. This might be why I tend to write what I know and what I notice most often.
Do you have any set rules for yourself about how or when to write?
I do! I have a schedule on my living room calendar. I label which chapters I need to write that week. And I do stick to it. It’s sort of like a contract to me. After I get the chapters out, I edit and edit.
What helps spark your imagination when writer’s block hits or you’re just looking for a new idea?
I don’t believe in writer’s block. If you want to write, you will. Make a schedule! If you aren’t feeling what you’re writing, that’s fine! That’s what editing is for. Just write and write. Do it every day. That’s what matters.
What have you learned about yourself from your writing?
From writing, I’ve learned that I don’t say aloud a lot of what I feel. I’m very introverted and shy. But when I’m writing, I feel free to say whatever I want. It’s safe. It’s cathartic. Sometimes I say that writing is my therapy. I can express whatever I want and move on. It’s so great.
What advice would you give an aspiring writer?
It might be cliche, I would say to never, never give up. Writing is hard. Editing is hard. Getting published is hard. Marketing is hard. But if you truly love it, write every day. Submit your writing. Be proud of your work! It just takes one person to say yes. But you have to believe in yourself first and foremost.
You’re an avid traveler. In what ways has that influenced your writing?
Traveling has made me a better writer. I think that traveling opens your mind to the world. You see new cultures, new ways of life. Writing grows when you meet more people and see new things. You can write more dynamic characters if you’ve met more people from different walks of life.
When did you decide you wanted to be a writer and how different is the reality from what you had expected?
I wanted to be a writer at age 11 and I haven’t wavered! The expectation then versus the reality now is definitely different. I have a day job. I write at night and on the weekends. I imagined myself on my laptop all day, feet up, drinking coffee. That isn’t really the case. I write when I can. And there usually isn’t that much coffee involved!
With self publishing being an option, what made you choose to publish with
I loved TouchPoint Press from the moment I visited the website. It’s such an open, welcoming community of amazing writers. I am honored to be a part of that. Self publishing is a great option for some people, but I like having a home for my book. And that community is hard to beat! Plus, TouchPoint has amazing editors, graphic designers, and marketers. I love that I have access to these top-notch professionals. They’ve been so helpful.
What are you currently working on?
I have finished books 1-4 in the These Four Years series. Books 3 and 4 need editing, so I am working toward that. Also, I am currently an online MFA student at Lindenwood University. That keeps me busy! I will start my thesis, which will be a screenplay, this coming March.
When can we expect your next release?
I hope any day now! My editor is finished. I am just waiting for the galley and graphic design. I hope books 3 and 4 can be published in the near future, too.
What amazes you the most about your life?
I love my life as a writer. I love that I can write and I love that people read what I write. It’s one of the greatest joys I’ve had. I do call myself a writer with a day job. Hopefully one day I can just be a writer. That’s the dream!
Tell me a random fact about yourself.
I used to do figure skating competitions. I was between ages 9 and 12. I even have a “gold” medal from a competition I won! It’s hard work, but I love to skate, even though I do not compete anymore.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I am so grateful to have a home for my book series. It’s been wonderful working with the TouchPoint team. I have another book idea in mind once this series is out, so stay tuned for that! Also, please check out my first TV movie, Woman of the House, on PixL channel!
Books by Caroline A. DeJong