author of My Whole Truth, out October 2, 2018
Author, I Never is a segment in which I interview fellow authors about the writing process, breaking into the industry, and breaking rules. I ask some hopefully novel questions along with some of the old standards, and finish it up with a round of I Never to find out what cardinal writing rules we've broken.
Question the first: Mischa, when did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
Since elementary school. I lived in fiction as a kid, and at ten I was ‘working’ at the local library processing new books, which in those days meant pasting in card pockets and filing Dewey cards. Saying it like that makes me feel ancient, but it was so much fun! In high school I started writing short stories and some novel-length fanfic and promised myself that by 25 I would have a book on the shelves. I’m almost ten years late to that goal, but as they say, there’s the plan and then there’s real life!
That there is! Question the second: What has been your proudest or most exciting moment as an author so far?
Strangely this isn’t connected to my debut, but my proudest moment was typing The End after finishing the first draft of my second book. Everyone always says they have a book in them, so it was completely possible that my first one was just a fluke. Getting the first draft of the second book done convinced me that maybe the first was more than just luck.
I can really relate to that fear. Or possibility, as you put it. Question the third: At what point did you think to yourself "I've made it" or at what point do you think you'll feel that way?
Still waiting for that feeling to kick in!! Imposter syndrome, as much as I personally detest the phrase, is a very real thing. I’m not sure what it will take to convince my brain I’m an actual author, but I’m sure it’ll be nice when it happens!
I’m told there are snacks in the VIP room. Question the fourth: Did any experienced authors or industry people mentor or give you helpful guidance on your journey to publication?
No, because I’m an idiot. I wrote MY WHOLE TRUTH in complete secrecy. There was literally not a single soul who knew I was even thinking about writing a book until after it was sold and announced on Publishers Weekly. (I 100% do not recommend doing it this way!)
I’m glad it worked out! Question the fifth: Have you ever had a time when you've felt like giving up?
Yes, right before I started querying and I impulsively got a Master’s degree to deal to cover up the anxiety. Again, 12/10 would not recommend!!
An advanced degree to help deal with the pressure makes sense only in publishing. Question the sixth: What was the most inconvenient time or place you were struck by inspiration?
The barn, although this is also hands down my best place for brainstorming. One of my day jobs is being a riding instructor, and that means I spend a fair amount of time of engaged in the routine manual labor that goes into caring for horses – cleaning stalls, filling water buckets, hauling hay – and it’s like crack for my muse. Before anyone knew I was writing a book, I’d surreptitiously duck into the feed room to jot notes onto my phone, but now the secret’s out so everyone just assumes stall-cleaning = plotting time.
Question the seventh: Can you give us hint to help us find an "easter egg" or hidden item to look for in one of your books? Maybe an obscure clue if there's a mystery thread, or a reference you threw in to a favorite book or song?
So. Many. Fandom. References. Seelie is an unabashed geek and most of her fandoms are my fandoms. I also have a tendency to use TV character names as placeholders in the first draft, and a couple attached to minor characters slipped through the cracks into the final draft.
Sounds fun! Speaking of fun…
I Never Round
The basic rules of I Never, the kid friendly version- I state a generally established writing rule (or at least a norm). If you've broken that rule, state your guilt for the record.
I never made up a word in my manuscript, and stood by it during copyediting.
Not yet, but I do have a character in my second book who argues vociferously that peanuts, by virtue of being legumes and not nuts, should be called peagumes, and I’ll fight anyone who tries to steal her argument.
Admissible! I never had an amazing idea right before bed, and decided sleep was more important.
Probably guilty, but I’m also known to wake up in the middle of the night to add ideas to the notes app on my phone, so I might not be the norm!
A healthy balance is always a good thing, I think. I never started a story with a character waking up, looking in the mirror, or in a bathtub.
Not guilty. Are bathtub beginnings common?? I had no idea! (I have, however, written in the bath. Twice. Yes, it was awkward; no, I don’t recommend it.)
You know, I was sure “bathtub scenes” were a trope from some online writing class I took a long time ago, and now I’m just wondering about that professor. I never worked on two manuscripts at once.
Guilty! My first two books are contemporary, but I have a sci-fi passion project that I keep playing with on the side.
That sounds awesome. I never went several days or even weeks without writing.
How about years? A full two years passed between finishing my first book and starting my second. I dabbled a bit with some projects, including the aforementioned SF WIP, but other commitments and some mental health stuff made it hard to get anything to stick.
Breaks are good. Short breaks, long breaks. All good. I never wrote "for a long moment."
Guilty, although I’m studiously avoiding it in book2!! The problem is that some moments ARE long and sometimes that phrasing is the easiest way to convey it.
It’s true. I never cheated during NaNoWriMo.
The first time I attempted NaNoWriMo was actually this past July and I was so enamored with Pomodoro sprints, daily check-ins, and the need to get book2 written that it didn’t even occur to me that cheating was an option. (Seriously, how does that work? Lie about word count? Hire monkeys to write your story? Tell me!!)
Good old fashioned lying. Fudging the numbers. Stealing the stickers. Impostering! Thank you so much for appearing in Author, I Never! When and where can we look for, preorder, or buy your next or most recent book, and where can we follow you on social media?
MY WHOLE TRUTH will hit shelves October 2ndand can be preordered from Amazon, BN, and, best of all, IndieBound, which lets readers support their local bookstores.
You can find me on social media @mischa_thrace, on Instagram, where I mostly post about my dog, tea, and snacks, and on Twitter, where, to be honest, I mostly boost cool stuff for other authors.
Bonus question: If your book had a theme song, what would it be?
The only question I’m worse at than this one is ‘Who would you cast in the movie-version of your book?’ I’m just weirdly not a music person, but if someone knows of an awesome song that fits my book I’d love to check it out!
DJ Spotify, can you do some kind of AI algorithmic magic to find the perfect theme song or something?
Okay, I’m taking that as a no, and Mischa and I are signing off.