Thursday, 7 June 2012

Q&A With Siri Mitchell

Interviews like these normally come with a hoard of flattering words, citing achievements as long as your arm, and it's very easy to gloss over such intros to get to the good bits. That's what I was thinking about when Siri Mitchell's response came through. What do I highlight from the outset when there is so much to choose from? What angle should I take for an intro when everything I know about her is all so good? Puns abound, I know, but the lady truly does have a heart most worthy. She remains, as ever, refreshingly down to earth as the Q&A will show.

A good friend once told me everyone should have a Paul and be a Timothy... Have someone to grow you as you grow someone else. The questions I posed were intended to be helpful and encouraging, particularly for those not yet published. We can be forgiven for thinking that those who have gone ahead of us have totally got the gig down pat, however the work doesn't stop. This is a hard game some days more than others, so read on and grow...

Pretty, too!

Q1: What was your best piece of advice before you were published?
A: Keep trying; rejection is not personal. I didn’t really understand that advice before I was published because rejection felt extremely personal, but it’s actually true. None of those 100+ rejections I accumulated was saying I was a bad person or that I would never succeed, they were simply saying that my books weren’t a good fit for them at that time.

Q2: How has being published changed your approach to writing?
A: I no longer write strictly for myself. The goal of writing a book is no longer just to please me, but it’s also to please my readers. I spend a lot of time during my writing process now, thinking about what my readers expect, what they’ve liked (and haven’t liked) and how I can continue to give them a book that’s uniquely me and appeals to their sensibilities.

Q3: How did you learn what was worth saying, and what was better left out of a MS?
A: My editors might tell you that I still haven’t learned that! Insofar as I’ve gotten better though, I think it’s because I’ve put in quite a bit of time learning how to plot and structure my novels. Those are my weaknesses. I find if I can develop a moral premise first (see The Moral Premise by Dr. Stanley Williams), then I give myself some boundaries for my manuscripts. If a scene or character or theme doesn’t wrestle with my premise, then it gets left out. I do a better job at this in some books than in others. Sometimes I have to just write my first draft to figure out what questions I’m trying to ask myself in order to find that premise.

Q4: What's the most difficult aspect of the writing/editing/publishing process to deal with?
A: The point at which I realize that story I’ve written will never be able to match the story I envisioned in my mind. It’s always disappointing and I always hope that next time the vision and my efforts will match up. No luck yet, but maybe one day!

Q5: What's next for you?
A: I’ve been working on two different books this season. In March, I submitted next year’s release, Unrivaled, to my editors. It’s set in 1910 St. Louis in the cutthroat candy-making industry (don’t laugh—it’s true!). Next week I’m going to pick the manuscript up again and go to work incorporating my editors’ suggestions. In April and May, I worked 2014’s release, trying to get a solid first and second draft done before heading into summer. In July and August I hope to be able to do some research reading to fish for some new story ideas.

When it comes to the goods Siri knows what she's talking about, and not just in a practical sense. Her published works rock my heart like few others can. Her gift in dealing with the often precarious blend of faith with fiction avoids the kitsch, and the character of God gets me every time.

Je vous remercie, du fond de mon cœur.

Siri's latest book The Messenger is available now. Do not delay in acquiring a copy. You don't know what you're missing ;)

Read my reveiew for The Messenger here. You can also follow Siri on Twitter and Facebook.

As iron sharpens iron,
    so one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27v17

L'homme s'affine au contact de son prochain
tout comme le fer se polit par le fer.

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