Hi there, everyone! We have a lovely writer to catch up with today in our Writers Around the World Q & A series. Meet Maura Jortner…
Hello Maura! I’m so happy to “chat” with you. First of all, where are you from and where do you live now?
I am originally from Salem, New Hampshire, but I now live in Waco, Texas.
So, how long have you been writing?
I began writing in 2012.
What age group and genre(s) do you write in? The same one all the time or have you written in more than one?
I started writing because I was telling my daughter stories at bedtime, and they were getting more and more complex. I finally had to start typing them out. She was around the age for Middle Grade at the time, so that’s where I began. I soon found my real love was YA, and I’ve been writing for that age group ever since.
We know how important it is to read widely in the age group/genre you write for. What’s a book you’ve read and loved?
The Fault in our Stars and Paper Towns by John Green, The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy by Kate Hattemer, Blood and Salt by Kim Liggett, Divergent by Veronica Roth, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins… There’s a long list.
Those are some of my favorites too. With so many great books, it’s hard to resist them all! What’s a book out of your genre/age group you’ve read and loved?
I’m a big fan of… well, about anything well written. I loved The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, Wreckage by Emily Bleeker, The Drowning Game by L.S. Hawker, The Giver by Lois Lowry, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. …and that’s just off the top of my head.
Writing is the greatest profession there is—obviously! If you weren’t a writer, what would you want to be? Don’t hold back. No limits on this one!
Professionally I’m also a professor, so that’s what I’d want to be. J
Yes, it’s possible to like both, but which do you like better—drafting or revising?
Do you plan first or write as you go along?
Before I start drafting, I have at least a beginning, two turning points, and the end in my head. Next, I write the query letter to see how it sounds. Once I have those aspects in place, then I’m ready to begin.
What’s your favorite day of the week? How come?
Friday because my official work load (being a professor) is light and I can sneak in extra writing time.
Where do you usually write? At a desk? Outside? In the car? Be honest. Where does the magic usually happen?
At my desk (in the office) or kitchen table (at home).
Are you a morning person or a late night owl? What time do usually write?
Morning, but I’ll make due with whatever time I have when push comes to shove. I write whenever I can sneak a few minutes… so I set my alarm for 4:45 to get a little less than an hour of writing in before my kids wake up. Then I write during the day if I have a bit of time. Later at night, I will write from 9:30-10:00, or, if I’m on a roll, I keep going.
What prompted you to write your story in the first place?
Oh, oops. I answered this question above!
What’s your favorite food(s)?
Shrimp. No, chocolate. No, shrimp.
Do you have any hobbies, besides writing?
Does driving my kids around town count as a hobby?
Do you have a job other than writing?
Ooops. Also mentioned this above. I teach writing and literature at Baylor University.
Tell us about your family…
I have a patient husband, two amazing daughters, and one unruly cat.
Who’s usually your first reader(s)?
My CPs (Critique Partners) that I found through Twitter.
What has been your biggest writing accomplishment so far?
Getting my first YA published.
Yay!! Congratulations!! We know getting published isn’t easy. Why do you keep trying, even now?
Sometimes I honestly don’t know. *bangs head for a while, finally snaps out of it* Oh, right. I do actually have a real answer. I’m a writer. It’s what I do. That’s what makes me happy. So I know I’ll keep going, and my writing keeps improving with every book, so I might as well keep trying to get published, right?
What’s your next step? Revising? Writing a new book? A sequel?
I have a new novel in my head right now… so I just need to make sure I have the kinks worked out in the plot and then I’ll start writing it.
Do you have any advice for writers still in the query or sub trenches?
Just keep going. Be that tenacious bulldog that won’t give up, that won’t release the yummy bone it found no matter what its owner says. You’ll make it if you just keep going.
Fill your writing world with positive people, but also those who can help you get better. Look for CPs that are better writers than you are. They’re the ones who will push you. And they’re the ones who can help you make it through all the rejection.
What will you do when you reach your next writing goal? Who will you tell first?
I will tell my CPs, first, of course. Did I say that? I mean my husband. Definitely my husband David.
If you could travel to any place in the world, and experience any culture (for inspiration of course!), where would that be?
I’d go anywhere there are ruins. I love them. All of them. For instance, I’d love to visit the abandoned Incan citadel, Machu Picchu.
Thanks so much, Maura for taking the time to answer my questions and share a little bit about your writing world with all of us. Oh…and good luck to you on your soon-to-be-released debut YA novel! (Available January 9, 2017 by Lakewater Press)
To get in touch with Maura or learn more about her book, here’s how you can reach her: