Author Interview with the talented Young Adult Fantasy Writer Tiana Warner who has indie published two novels for teens (with adult crossover appeal) titled Ice Massacre and The Infinite Knowledge of J. T. Badgley which can be found on her website and on Amazon (see links below).
I asked Tiana a few questions about books, publishing and what her writing journey has taught her so far.
1) When did you know that you wanted to be a writer? How did you start?
I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t making stories and poems. The first story I wrote, a picture book called The Sachmoe, I sold to my grandma for $2. I spent all of elementary and high school writing stories, poems, and unfinished novellas about horses. In late high school, I decided I would finish a novel for real, and spent the next few years working on The Infinite Knowledge of J. T. Badgley. I’m now working on my third novel.
I think the moral of my “how did you become a writer” story is that we should always encourage children to write, because it was the encouragement from parents and teachers that kept me picking up the pencil.
2) What genre(s) do you write in? What is it that you love about them?
YA Fantasy. I love writing for teens, partly because the readership is so cool, but also because the stories are so character-driven. The characters in teen novels deal with issues we’re all familiar with—self-discovery, relationships, becoming an adult and taking on responsibilities. Add the fantasy element, and you get the bonus of magic and supernatural elements.
YA Fantasy means a story about a relatable journey in an extraordinary setting. How could you not love that?
3) Who are some of your favorite authors? Why?
J.K. Rowling. Because Hogwarts.
Seriously, I have yet to read a book that so thoroughly pulls you into its universe. The Harry Potter series has so much depth, and it all comes back to one central, feel-good theme.
I also really respect and admire authors who have made a business out of writing and have a strong online presence, like Maggie Stiefvater, K. M. Weiland, Joanna Penn, and Chuck Wendig.
4) What inspires your ideas? How do you come up with them?
Inspiration comes from all over the place. The idea for Ice Massacre came to me during a trip to Disneyland. I decided I wanted to write about mermaids, but I wanted it to be a bit dark – so I based the story on the real legend of mermaids. (Yes, the happiest place on earth inspired my story about sea demons that lure sailors to their deaths.)
From there, it’s about asking a series of “what if” questions. What if dangerous mermaids actually existed? What if an island had to share its surrounding water with them? Would they try to kill off the species? What would they do when this plan didn’t work? Enter kick-ass female warriors.
5) What are you working on now?
Ice Crypt, the sequel to Ice Massacre. You guys, I am SO excited for you to read this one. I’m getting closer to finishing it and can hardly contain myself.
6) What does a typical writing look like for you/what is your process?
I like to get up at 6am and write before work. I think it’s good for creativity if you write before your brain properly turns on for the day. It also feels nice to get my writing in first thing.
My overall writing process involves somewhere around 7 drafts. The first draft is always creative vomit. The second draft is a better attempt, with stronger characters and fewer plot holes. Drafts 3-5 involve more fixing and strengthening, including feedback from editing buddies. Somewhere in there, I pay a structural editor. The later drafts involve edits for word choice, sentence flow, then grammar and spelling. Then I hire a copyeditor. Then I proofread. Pro tip: get your computer to read your final draft out loud to you. It’s surprising how good this works for proofreading.
My process also tends to involve a lot of late night note-taking and manic scribbling on walls.
7) If one of your novels was made into a movie, which would you choose and what actors would you cast to play the three main roles?
When Ice Massacre becomes a movie (see what I did there? Positive thinking.) I’ll want my main girls to be played by unknown debut actresses. I know, that’s not what you meant, but I want the film to feel raw and indie ok? Bring on the auditions.
Although, have you seen Vampire Diaries? I love the way Nina Dobrev played Katherine. I envision her sass when I write Dani. So I definitely think she should play Dani.
8) What have been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned on your writing journey so far?
I cannot believe how much I’ve learned since I started writing. I had no idea there was so much involved in story structure and the general craft of writing. I didn’t know so much of the novel-writing process was spent in the editing phase. I’ve learned about publishing, and self-publishing, and marketing. I’ve learned how important it is to make friends with other writers who are just as weird as I am.
9) What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Learn! Study the craft, and study the industry. Read blogs, listen to podcasts, take courses, just keep learning about writing every day. There’s so much to story structure, character development, and every other aspect of writing. You could spend your whole life learning about it. And that’s exactly what I plan to do.
Anything else you would like to add or talk about?
Thanks so much for interviewing me! It was a pleasure.
Thank you so much! Where can people find out more about you and your books?