Who are your favorite authors?
I read quite widely, so this is always a difficult question to answer. That being said, I can provide a select list of some who stand out.
JRR Tolkein, Edgar Allen Poe, and George RR Martin have been important parts of my reading and my writing development. I could easily list all the fantastic authors I studied with in my MFA program, but Theodora Goss and Elizabeth Hand are two writers have enjoyed reading from the very beginning. I also particularly enjoy Neil Gaiman, Sarah J. Maas, and Kevin Barry.
I also read a lot of comics and there are some fantastic creators–writers and artists–who I am always happy to pick up. They include Jeff Lemire, Tom King, Skottie Young, Marjorie Liu, Andrea Sorrentino, Sana Takeda, and Fábio Moon.
I could easily keep listing authors, but this should serve as a fair overview. If you want to see more, check out my Goodreads profile.
As for movies? Well… that’s a whole other conversation.
Where do you get your ideas? (Often phrased as “where do you come up with this stuff?” and accompanied by a mildly concerned expression.)
There’s no good answer for this. I believe most good artists steal liberally, so my ideas come in part from a wide range of books, television and movies, music videos, video games, random conversations, and the occasional attack of true inspiration. Mostly, it feels like my brain is wired to make connections and stories out of the most random elements. Some of these ideas have or will lead to worthwhile stories; many are perhaps better left forgotten.
But to give this answer broader application–if you want to create, surround yourself with things that inspire you. Also expose yourself with things that you have never encountered before. Learn what you like and what you don’t–and perhaps more importantly, learn why that is the case. Test the boundaries. Learn from what has been done already and then make it your own.
And be daring. Tell the story you want to tell.
Do you get writer’s block? How do you deal with it?
How do I deal with it?–two things:
1) Find people who will keep you accountable. It’s especially beneficial to have a creative community that understands and supports what you’re doing, even if that community is only a couple people. It’s easy to stay stuck if you try to do it entirely on your own. And you will get stuck. Find someone who won’t let you stay there. Connecting with people who value the same things I do, finding a writing partner who helps keep me moving forward–these have been some of the most important pieces of my writing development.
2) Write anyway.
Write absolute garbage if you have to. Burn it at the end of a 10-foot pole when you’re done. But put words on the page. Then do it again. Keep going until something clicks. Then write some more. That’s the only way this writing thing happens.
I have a story; how do I get published?
Keep reading. Keep writing. Keep revising.
When you have a story that is ready to send out, do some research. Learn about the markets and make a list of places you want to send the story. Read the guidelines for those markets. Then follow those guidelines. Get rejected. Keep getting rejected, and don’t take it personally. Listen to the feedback you receive, but never loose sight of the story you want to tell. Keep writing. Keep submitting. Look for the day your first story gets accepted. But always keep learning.
And keep your love of stories.
It’s easy to say, even if the doing is a little more complicated.