Today we have a guest post from Sarah Makela, author of “The Amazon Chronicles.” Join us as we get a glance into the mind of this fantastic New York Times and USA Today bestselling author.
What are your top 10 favorite books/authors?
My favorite authors are Karen Chance, Patricia Briggs, Ilona Andrews, Pepper Winters, Jim Butcher, Sarra Cannon, and Steven Konkoly. That’s only seven, but it’s all I can think of right now. I’m sure there are authors I’ve missed.
How long have you been writing?
I honestly don’t know! I’ve written throughout my life. I do know my writing went to the next level since participating in my first NaNoWriMo in 2005. I’ve participated each year since then, even if I haven’t always won.
Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?
The secondary characters usually come to me as I write. I know who the main characters will be, but who they encounter along the way isn’t always known.
What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?
I usually do research while I’m editing and leave brackets like [insert type of gun] or whatever I need to know, unless it’s important to what I’m writing and I can’t move on. If that’s the case, I’ll take a few moments to figure out what’s needed, fill it in, and move on with the scene. The type of research I’ll do for books really depend on the book and the genre. For the Amazon Chronicles, I did plenty of research on what the Amazon Rainforest is like. What animals are in the rainforest. How much does it rain? Also information on pumas and tigers and what their eyesight and sense of smell are like. Other series require different kinds of research during Hacked Investigations (a cyberpunk romance series), I looked up different high-tech, security, and hacking related research topics. Also, gnomes because of the whacky sidekick named Bernard.
Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?
I love music. If I’m writing, there is music playing with very few exceptions. Actually, the only thing one that comes to mind is writing in a public space where I don’t have my headphones. It’d be rude to play music in a public place, so I wouldn’t do it.
Not only do I use music as a way of shutting out distractions, it’s also a way for me to tap into emotions. If I’m writing a sorrowful scene, I might play sad music. A fight scene might have strong, angry music. A love scene might be written to sexy music. Most of the time, I just turn on whatever music has my attention—or shuffle my music library—and let the tunes keep me focused on what I’m doing. Sometimes a song will steal my attention, but I don’t worry about it. I let myself enjoy the song and use it as a mini-break before diving back into getting more words on the page.
Pen or type writer or computer?
Definitely computer! I’m pretty sure my hand would fall off if I tried to write with pen and paper. Although, I did write like that when I was growing up. I had a notebook that I’d take with me everywhere and use whatever chance I could to continue my story. Once I began using a computer to write, I haven’t gone back to pen and paper unless it’s been to jot notes. Even then, I mostly use my phone for that these days.
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
Actually, I find it really fun to write male characters. Sometimes more so than writing female characters. They’re different from me, so sometimes that makes it easier to figure them out than my heroines. Then again, it depends on the specific character. Some are harder to write than others.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
I believe more in story block than writer’s block. That means basically looking at your story and figuring out where things started to break down with your forward momentum. Where did it start to take a nosedive and make you feel blocked? Once you’re able to find it and fix it, you’re able to move on and continue writing your book. Other times, maybe it’s not the right book for you to work on at that moment. For instance, if you’re writing a sci-fi book about a pandemic and then a pandemic happens, maybe you’re stuck because you need to work on another book for the moment. Something not so close to reality or whatever is stressing you.