Do you have a day job other than being a writer? And do you like it?
Yes and yes—most of the time, haha! I actually work as an assistant teacher at an early learning center during the day. My boss offers me flexible hours so that I can go out and do events like book signings to promote my book. She believes in me as an author, and I’m truly grateful for the opportunity, but I do have those moments in the classroom when I realize that teaching is not my first career passion. Writing is, and it motivates me to work even harder at my craft so I can someday support myself with writing alone.
Do you proofread and edit your work on your own or pay someone to do it for you?
I usually proofread and edit my own work! I have a B.A. in writing and do freelance editing, so I feel comfortable enough to use my editing skills on my own work. Doing so is dangerous because our eyes easily gloss over our own mistakes, but I go through several edits to make sure I catch all that I can. But of course, I always appreciate having another trusted pair of eyes edit my work.
Do you believe a book cover plays an important role in the selling process?
Absolutely. My novel’s cover is an unusual one, and I have both lost and gained sales because of my cover. The cover features a car and her human friend sitting along a picturesque road, clouds swirled above them upon a beautiful canvass of sky. Most people like the cover, but it can mislead people to think that the book is solely a children’s one. I want people to know that my work speaks to every generation, but unfortunately my cover does not convey that message. It does, however, captivate pre-teens and tweens really well!
Any advice you would like to give to your younger self?
Well I’m still pretty young, but this is what I would say: take every possible opportunity to improve your craft. Start writing your first book while you’re in school—the earlier the better. You could be the next wunderkind! Don’t be scared that it might not be perfect because no one writes perfect first drafts of a novel anyway. The finished product is what really matters, so write with confidence because you have the gift and drive to finish strong.
Any advice you would like to give to aspiring writers?
Read as much high-quality writing as you can. Read a variety of genres, but give special attention to the genres you enjoy writing most. Doing so will make you a better writer (I’ve noticed that if I don’t read as much as I normally do, my writing suffers. Creating metaphors and finding the right word suddenly seems more like physics—it’s harder!).
Writers are often associated with loner tendencies; is there any truth to that?
Personally, I don’t think so. Writers understand the importance of concentrating when it’s time to write, so many of us enjoy getting away from the crowds. Other than the time needed to focus on writing, I don’t think writers have many loner tendencies. Many writers that I know are quite social, actually.
Do you think writers have a normal life like others?
A writer’s life is as normal as snow in the summertime. We see the world differently, constantly looking for metaphors and story subjects in our everyday lives. The writer seeks to fully engage with the world around her. She constantly craves creating, while many others may not. As a writer, I feel that I have a responsibility to share uplifting stories through words in a way that only Ginger Gregory can.
A common misconception entwined with authors is that they are socially inept, how true is that?
Consider this: many authors are public/motivational speakers (think of Joyce Meyer, Kimberla Lawson Roby, Joel Osteen, etc.). I think authors must have adequate social skills to form relationships with and understand humans—so much so that they are brave enough to write what stems from their experiences with others. Personally, I’m an extremely friendly “people person.” So yes, based on famous examples, myself, and various observations, authors are socially adept. And let’s remember that a person doesn’t need to be an extrovert to be socially adept.
What makes the particular genre you are involved in so special?
YA literature is special because the genre captivates an audience that is not afraid to hurt the author’s feelings (teens) while still showcasing an adult appeal. I know several adults who really enjoy YA lit (myself included, if you can actually call me an adult 😉). The genre is also highly transparent. It tackles tough issues like eating disorders and poverty while keeping a sense of humor. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a perfect example.
How important is research to you when writing a book?
It’s kind of a drag sometimes, but research is always important to me. Now because I write fiction-fantasy I may have less research than someone writing a biography (or textbook!), but I still need to research. That might include researching other works similar to my own, name meanings, places, or even my audience. But it’s important to research so I get facts right. If you get facts wrong in your writing, you strain your credibility—something no author should want.
What is the most important thing about a book in your opinion?
Ooh, that’s a tough one. I’d have to say the characters though. You can have a story that takes place in an empty room with four walls, but with memorable characters that story will likely be worth reading.
Did you ever think you would be unable to finish your first novel?
Surprisingly, no! I had a rough story map from the beginning, and with the finish line in my mind it wasn’t tough to keep pushing forward and finish strong. Plus, my closest friends and family members knew that I was writing, which meant they were rooting for me. I didn’t want to let them down. I also realized that one of the best times to write was right then, fresh out of college with a writing degree. Time, education, and eager anticipation helped me to write that novel with passion and confidence.
Did you always know that you were destined for literary greatness, or you, as they say, “stumbled” upon it?
Not until high school did I realize that authorship would play a huge role in my destiny. In elementary school and junior high, I had the best parent-teacher conference comments ever regarding my writing! My sixth-grade teacher said to my mom, “I wish I could write like her.” Fast-forward to eighth grade and my English teacher said I should be published. Wow! Yet I still wasn’t convinced that I should write as a career—until I realized that I could write in a way that could inspire people and change our world for the better, one reader at a time.
Tell us about an interesting or memorable encounter you had with a fan?
I remember meeting this one fan. He looked about 13. This was before I had my own booth and was using a simple tray table to display my books outside of a store. He said, “Excuse me, are you an author? I’ve seen you before! Could you say something for my YouTube channel?” I told him I would, and I don’t really remember what I said, but I do remember what he said afterward. He smiled, took a selfie with me, and began to walk away, saying “Thank you—become famous!” His words echo in my head to this day. Become famous so I can have 15 cars and 12 garages and 800 rooms in a mansion? No! I want to be famous so that I can use my fame to inspire others to follow their dreams.
Do any of your family members make occasional cameos in your books?
Actually they do! In fact, many of my characters are inspired by family members. Aunt Diann, Michael, Julian, and Uncle Oral are all characters in my book. Julian and Mike are modeled after my cousins; Aunt Diann and Uncle Oral are modeled after my actual aunt and actual uncle! I think the cameos are fun for them as readers, dangerous for me as the writer. They enjoy seeing themselves in my stories—as long as they look good!
Do you think translating books into languages other than their origin forces the intended essence away?
Actually, I think translating books into other languages is a great idea. The key is having an effective translation. If the translation can be done without the text losing its true meaning, then that is a great translation. I understand that sometimes words don’t translate exactly, but really that’s okay—the overall meaning can usually be conveyed if done with care.
Do you blog?
Yes, I do! My blog is special because it inspires people through my insights on how life on and off the road parallels in more ways than we think. Please check www.sylviesedan.com every weekend for new blog posts! I am a creative blogger who creates articles, audio clips, and YouTube videos. My posts are truly unique, much like my novel.
How do you incorporate the noise around you into the story you are writing at the moment?
Well, if the noises contribute to my story in a positive way, I find it affects my vocabulary choice. I love writing at the park, and when I hear birds singing and kids playing, my prose becomes graceful and playful. If I’m at a recreation center or gym with background noise, I treat that noise like background instrumentals to my life at the moment. The story I’m writing is the melody, so everything harmonizes with my creative mind.
Were your parents supportive of your choice of career?
I have to say that I’m blessed with overwhelming support from my parents. My dad bought my first pop-up booth and understood my decision to take a minimum-wage job after college so I would have time to write; my mom is the parent who first said she would like to see me become an author—way before I even considered writing books as a career.
Can you tell us about your current projects?
Absolutely! I’m currently working on the second and third books in my Sylvie Sedan trilogy-in-the-making. I’m also working on a teen devotional book and another book that we’ll probably keep secret for now. It’s going to be edgy though! Also gripping and shockingly realistic.
Have you ever marketed your own books yourself?
Yes, I market The Adventures of Sylvie Sedan in many ways! A talented friend of mine designed an amazing website, www.sylviesedan.com. Another gifted friend designed my pop-up booth, which I can use at fairs, parks, book signings, and more! Marketing can be time-consuming, but it really does make my author journey even more worthwhile when I see how special it is for fans to meet me—and vice versa!
Is it true that authors write word-perfect first drafts?
I haven’t met or heard of an author like that yet! If an author hopes to turn their draft into a masterpiece, at least a few tweaks will be necessary, and probably many. From sentence structure and punctuation to descriptive imagery and diction, something can always be better. Send me an author with a “word-perfect” first draft, and I guarantee I will change his mind!
They say books die every time they are turned into a movie; what do you think?
I say it depends what kind of book is transferred to the silver screen. Some movies can actually enhance a book and bring the story to life in ways one may not have thought of; other movies end up omitting too many elements essential to the story’s uniqueness. A great example of film- to-movie is probably “The Outsiders.” An example that I feel could have been better would be “The Giver.”