Epic Q & A with E. Paige Burks!
So my prompt for today was to do an epic q&a...I obviously did not prepare for that like I should have by asking for reader questions, so I went online and found a list of questions to answer instead! Hopefully you'll learn something about me you didn't know and feel inspired in the process!
What inspired you to start writing?
I've always loved books. My earliest memories of reading are from when I was maybe 4 or 5 years old and reading Green Eggs and Ham with my dad at night. I think that because of my love of reading, it was only natural to want to start writing too! My biggest inspiration was David Clement-Davies' book The Sight. It was one of the most amazing books my young mind had read at the time. It still has a special place in my heart today, almost 20 years later!
How long have you been writing?
I've been writing since I was in high school, but didn't quit my job to stay home and write until 2015. I was able to revamp the story I wrote in high school and it became my book Return to Royalty!
When did you start writing?
I think I first wrote a story when I was 10. It was about a puppy named Brownie who was scared of a doberman that lived down the street, haha.
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I wanted to be a vet for a while, but only because I always thought writing was just a side-gig or a fun hobby. I love animals and I especially love large animal medicine. I think the field work would have been fine, but my math skills are not so great, which is why I ultimately gave up getting a vet degree in college.
What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting out?
Never stop writing. Don't give up on your ideas. Save everything. NEVER DELETE ANYTHING and BACK UP YOUR FILES! Back them up in multiple places on the cloud, the computer, external hard drives, whatever. The most devastating thing that ever happened to me was when my hard drive died on my first computer. I was beside myself because I lost a lot of work. Fortunately, I was able to come back from it because my dad had an image of my computer on an external drive.
How do you handle writer’s block?
I work on something else, I write through it, or I skip over it and write something that actually interests me. A good rule of thumb for writers block is that it's probably boring, and if it's boring for you, it's definitely boring for your reader!
What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
A good story, told in a way that is legible. I've read some stories that were great and had me on the edge of my seat, but they desperately needed an editor. I think as long as your story is good, all you need is editing.
What comes first, the plot or characters?
I don't really think it matters! If you have a plot, you can make characters, and if you have characters, you can give them a backstory and something to do!
How do you develop your plot and characters?
Ha! I just roll with it. I'm the epitome of 'my characters control me'. I have a general idea of where I want to end up, but how we get there is as much a mystery to me as it is to the reader!
How do you come up with the titles to your books?
Titles are hard. I used to leave everything untitled because I never felt like anything fit. Now, whatever the first thing is that pops into my head, I go with it. I don't feel like you can really go too wrong with titles.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
After my book won an award in 2016. Until then, I was embarrassed to say that I was a writer. I felt like I would be looked down on for staying at home instead of working a traditional job. I got a lot of funny looks from my family, but they knew I had a dream and I was going to chase it until it happened or there was nothing left.
Describe your writing space.
It's organized chaos! I know where things are, but if anyone where to move them, I'd be totally lost. I also like to duel wield two screens, because so much more room for activities!!! Or distractions... I also have several little dragons who are my companions when the nights are long: Charlie (in green), Ellie (in purple), and Mari (short for Mariposa, which means butterfly). [PIC AT THE BOTTOM]
What time of the day do you usually write?
At night. I've always been a night owl, but with my toddler running around, I have to wait until he goes to bed to do anything. And even then I only get maybe four hours before I have to go to bed because he's an early bird! Can't wait til he starts school lol.
Describe a typical writing day.
Oh boy...I get up with Ethan, play with him for a few hours, trade off with the hubby for a couple of hours more sleep (since I'm a night owl, I need that nap time!), get up again and have lunch, try to do some work while Ethan takes a nap, play until dinner, eat dinner, put Ethan to bed, sit down and try to focus after a full day, maybe pound out some words, but mostly do some editing work (my side-gig is editing jobs for other authors). I feel like I don't get much time to write, but I'm really trying to push myself this month with NaNo going on!
What is the most difficult part about writing for you?
Finding the time and energy at the end of the day.
What is your work schedule like when you are writing?
I'm actually pretty busy right now! Between being a full-time mom, I clock 25-30 hours of doing freelance editing! Finding the time to keep up with the work and my own stuff is hard!
What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
I honestly don't know! I've never spent much time around other writers actually writing, so I have no idea what I do that's weird compared to what others do.
Do you hear from your readers much? What do they say?
Not really! I wish I did! I'd love to hear their thoughts!
How do you do research for your books?
Internet. I love Google. I think it was the best thing ever created. I can have so much knowledge in just minutes at my disposal. It's wonderful.
What are the tools of the trade?
A computer and a word processor, or a pen/pencil and some paper, and the determination to get it done!
What does success mean to you? What is the definition of success?
Making millions of dollars and a movie deal... Lol, jk. I think success is putting your work out into the world for others to enjoy.
Is writing your full-time career? Or would you like it to be?
It would be cool if it was, maybe. Idk. I've never enjoyed working a regular job because I hate having to be at someone else's mercy. I've always been a dedicated worker, but there's that little part of me that resents having a "real job". Being a mom is amazing, though. Maybe one day I'll be a full-time writer or editor, but I'm happy with what I'm doing now.
On a typical day, how much time do you spend writing?
Probably two hours or so. A lot of my time lately is catching up on my freelance jobs and just getting social media going for the week and admin stuff like that. Maybe I need an administrative assistant! Lol
Are you on social media and can your readers interact with you?
Of course!!! I'm on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @epaigeburks! Also here on my website.
When you’re writing an emotionally draining (or sexy, or sad, etc) scene, how do you get in the mood?
It usually builds as I write up to it. I've definitely cried a lot with my characters.
Writing can be an emotionally draining and stressful pursuit. Any tips for aspiring writers?
Stick with it. Parse what is helpful to you and what isn't. And recognize that what you write isn't for everyone and NOR SHOULD IT BE. You're not some boring, beige mixture of what you think everyone likes, you're bright colors of yourself, and you want other people who are the same bright colors as you (metaphorically speaking of course!). You're unique, your story is unique, and it will impact someone in a way that you could never imagine.
How do you deal with the emotional impact of a book (on yourself) as you are writing the story?
I just roll with it. I channel my feelings into what I'm doing. We've all felt the same way our characters have at some point, and it's why we can write about those things/feelings. It cathartic in a way to put your emotion into your book and let it go.
How do you handle literary criticism?
Not well! Lol. I try to realize that not everyone likes the same stuff as everyone else. There's no right or wrong, and it's just an opinion, even if it's not one I agree with! :)
How do you deal with poor reviews?
I read them, feel my feelings and mope for a bit, ask my husband if the reviewer is right (my husband, apart from my Grannie, is my biggest fan, so they never are), and then move on and never look at them again.
How much ‘world-building’ takes place before you start writing?
A lot. A lot, a lot. I have a whole 3-ring binder full of world stuff. I've got art and descriptions and meanings of words and names, and things that would never come up in the actual story. That's part of why I'm putting together a bestiary.
When writing a series how do you keep things fresh, for both your readers and also yourself?
I try to keep the story moving along. It feels like it's the same song and dance sometimes, but I try to just keep pushing along. There's an end goal, and I just need to get my characters there.
What was your favourite part, and your least favourite part, of the publishing journey?
I learned so much! My favorite was just being in it and seeing how it worked and learning how to do it for the next time. My least favorite is probably the writing up to it, though, haha. If someone could write my story for me, that would be great.
Do you find it more challenging to write the first book in a series or to write the subsequent novels?
I had a hard time with the first book, just getting the story on the proper legs, then book two flew by really quickly. I'm struggling again with book three. I dunno why it's gone this way, but I'm working through it.
Did I answer all your questions? Anything you'd like to ask? Reply below and I'll answer what I can! Oh, and check out my desk buddies: