June 29th, 2018
Laura Mae: What does a typical day of writing look like for you? Any rituals or ‘must-haves’?
Tiffany Crystal: I don’t have a typical writing day. I have a typical writing five minutes, if that counts? But seriously, in a household with two children, and me somehow being the only person who can answer their questions, I do not have a “writing day.” The oldest child is about to turn twelve and has a love of writing, so it only makes sense for her to come to me with questions. I’m also the one that got them hooked on science and weird facts, so I really kinda brought it upon myself. Their parents try to give me writing time, it just…doesn’t really work very well. (Stupid life, getting in the way!)
L: What’s a word or phrase that people say that always irritates you?
T: “Writer’s block isn’t real.” Every time I hear/read that, I want to plant my foot in the person’s butt just to see what grows. HUGE pet peeve. (Right?!)
L: Where would you say you get most of your inspiration?
T: My weird brain. No, seriously. My brain comes up with some of the strangest ideas, and I just have to follow the path it takes me down. A close second is curiosity, though. I’ll be sitting there, minding my own business, someone will ask me something, and I’m down the rabbit hole with ten new plot bunnies. It’s…interesting. (Wanna trade places?)
L: What inspired you to enter the world of writing?
T: I…am actually one of the lucky/weird ones. I come from a family of writers and/or artists. I mean, just about everyone in my immediate family writes or draws or sings. My father sang, drew, carved, painted, etc, and wrote science fiction and poetry. My mom writes Christian romance, my sister does paranormal romance and is also (in my opinion) a talented artist. My aunts on my father’s side all sing, draw, or write, too, so yeah, I grew up surrounded by creativity. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t inherit the singing/drawing genes, but writing…that I can do!
…or so I’ve been told, anyway. Ah, the crippling doubt that comes with being a writer. Fun times! (Welcome to the party! That’s awesome about your super talented creative family. You are very lucky. 🙂 )
L: How long have you been writing for?
T: Hmm, seriously, or just for fun? Poetry or actual novel-ish stuff? Ha, I started writing young, but honestly, I don’t remember what age I wrote my very first short story. I do remember it was about a puppy who moved and had to leave behind all his toys. He was very sad until he woke up one day and all his toys had arrived.
I think the reason I remember it all is because of something my father told me. I showed the story to him when I was still working on it, and he pointed out this one line that he really loved, so, to my child-brain, I thought, “Oh, I should use that line again!” But when I showed him the finished product, instead of heaping praise on my head, he sat me down and explained why you shouldn’t use the same device more than once, or at least not so close together. He didn’t treat me like a child, he treated me as a fellow writer. He died when I was eleven, and it was the summer afterwards that I began to work on my first science fiction/fantasy novel. It’s been 25 years, and I’m still working on that monster. It’s gone through so many different incarnations… ugh. (Parents are great at showing us the light even when we don’t expect them too.)
L: Are there any books or authors who inspire your work?
T: Are there any that don’t? I think, as a whole, writers are sponges. That’s why you often hear, “If you want to write, read.” I have a lot of favorite authors, but I can’t say any of them have inspired my work. Wait, does my father count? If so, then let’s go with that, haha. (He does count, and sounds like he was a great writer.)
L: What has been the most challenging for you so far?
T: Finding time. I am a full-time nanny to two children (sometimes three), a full time student, and I work at a gas station. I’m always either babysitting, gas stationing, or homeworking. Or curled up in a ball, trying desperately to catch up on sleep. It never happens (insomnia is so rude), but hope springs eternal. (Who needs sleep?)
L: What would you say is your favorite book or series of all time? Why?
T: Rude! So rude! That’s like asking a parent about their favorite child, how am I supposed to answer that? Oh dear god…I honestly don’t know. I love all of the books by Ilona Andrews and Anne Bishop. I also love Rick Riordan’s young adult books, and do not even get me started on Tamora Pierce or Patricia Wrede.
ARG. Okay, I guess, Tamora Pierce, and all of her books/series. (Sorry everyone else!) I love her world building, and the way she doesn’t play around with diversity, even though she’s a “young” adult writer. She has characters of color, she has bisexual, gay, and asexual characters. She has characters with PTSD, and what might be Autism (that character has only made a brief appearance so far, but I’m hoping she goes into more detail soon). She doesn’t white wash the world, and I think that is incredibly important. She also has a wicked sense of humor. The others are equally amazing, but I have the most history with Tamora, so she wins this round. (Diversity is so important these days. I’ll have to check her out!)
L: What part of writing do you enjoy the most?
T: World building. I love world building. I like having to think about races, caste systems, gender issues, magic rules, the science (if applicable), just…everything. I have an entire shelf of binders just for the individual worlds. I am a total world building geek. (Understandable!)
L: Are there any regrets you have or anything you wish you knew sooner?
T: When it comes to writing? Honestly, no. I’ve made mistakes over the years, but I’ve learned from them, so it’s hard to have any regret. When it comes to life don’t we all? I don’t think there’s a single person on this planet who has never known regret, or wished they had known something sooner. It’s part of life, you know? (True that.)
L: For aspiring writers out there, what would be the best advice you want them to know?
T: Learn the rules…so you can break them. It’s okay to listen to others’ suggestions, but their rules are not your rules. You have to figure out what works for you.
Also: find your tribe. Writing can be a solitary practice, but that doesn’t mean you have to be alone in it.
Contradiction much, yes, I know, but hear me out. You’re going to have moments of doubt. You’re going to stare at the same damn line for hours. Maybe even days. It happens. You’re going to have days/weeks/months when you aren’t able to write – whether it’s because of real life, or because you’re stuck on that one damn line – and you’re going to feel like a failure. That’s where your tribe comes in. They’ll help you figure out what it is about that line that is setting off your Writer’s Sense (think Spidey Sense, but with way more frustration), and how to fix it. They’ll remind you that life happens, and that sometimes you need to take a break to recharge. Often, they’ll even help provide the spark to get you back in the game. Your tribe is indispensable. Twitter is a good place to find one surprisingly enough. (Excellent advice. I agree with all of that.)
L: Describe how your WIP is going with a meme or gif.
L: What is your favorite literary character and why?
T: Hmm. Janelle Angeline from Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels series. The girl is rabidly overprotective of people, and that is something I can understand 100%. Plus, I love the depth she’s given. She’s not just a love interest, or the heroine of the story. She’s been broken. She doesn’t let it stop her. She puts herself back together, breaks herself to save her people, and does it all over again. Never hesitates, just does what she has to do, and I love it. (Powerful. I love the complexity of people. It’s so inspiring sometimes.)
L: Any songs or type of music you need to listen to when you write?
T: YES. Oh god, yes. When I’m writing, I can’t listen to music in any language I can actually understand – I end up typing the words I’m listening to, rather than what I’m thinking – so I listen to a lot of overseas music.
Mostly Korean or Japanese music. Currently, I’ve had the full discography of the K-pop group, VIXX, on repeat. They have a unique system to their music. The first couple songs/videos were light and pretty much standard bubblegum pop, I guess you could say, but then they changed things up. Now, every song they release, it’s an actual story. If you know anything about Korean Pop, you know that the videos are usually more about the dancing and showing off how pretty the boys/girls are. With VIXX, the video is more about the story, and the dancing is a part of the story. The best way I can really put it is this: every new video or song is like finding a new book by your favorite author. On and On and Error are science fiction, with a dash of romance and tragedy. Hyde is…I’m not sure what to classify it as, psychological thriller/fantasy? Voodoo is definitely horror, The Closer, to me, is very noir-ish. Fantasy is well, fantasy, but dark. Pretty much any genre you want, you can find. I love it, and that creativity fuels my own, so it’s a double win. (I think this is the best answer I’ve gotten for this question! lol)
L: Besides writing, what is it you like to do?
T: Read. Oh, sorry, that was kinda quick, huh? Um…I like to read. A lot. I also am a bit of a space geek. Okay, geek in general, honestly. I amuse one of my friends. She asked me about something for one of the classes we’re in, and I didn’t know a lot about the topic, so I went full on Sherlock, and researched it so I could answer her question. It’s a compulsion, haha. If I don’t know something, I have to go look it up. I don’t like not knowing something, even if it’s completely random and useless for day to day life. My brain is so weird, I swear. (Geeks united!)
L: What are you currently working on?
T: Besides the monster I mentioned, I am also working on the sequel to my first finished novel, “Say ‘No!’ to Zombies.” The sequel is, at the moment, titled, “Don’t Feed the Trolls” and picks up about a year after the events of first book. It covers the new adventure the main character finds herself on, and all of the wonderful happy fun times that comes along with it. Both works should probably be rated R for language alone, and are (or will be) published on my blog. This particular world is one I’m writing for practice/fun, so I post the rough drafts of the chapters as I finish them. Right now, “Say ‘No!’ to Zombies” is still available for free, so take advantage while you can! (It’s a really well written story. I love it!)
Tiffany Crystal is a nanny, a cashier at 711, and a full-time student. It sounds like a lot of work, but it’s mostly listening to people complain about things she has no control over or looking at a person/thing and wondering “How the heck did that end up there?!” When she’s not working or studying, she’s creating new worlds and writing about them – usually to the sound of K-pop or J-rock.
Find her and all her works on her website.