1. What Are You Working On in the Moment?
I do not like to talk about WIPs unless I am with my immediate family, a very patient muse or two and my critique group (who are probably sick to death of what I am working on!) Part of my writing process is figuring out what it is I am trying to do. I need to work out what the story is about, what the character wants and what the character needs to overcome. Right now, I am revising a YA novel that is about that moment in life when your friends are everything. I also have an MG novel in the making that is getting a first chapter makeover.
2. How Do You Think Your Work Differs From Other Writer's In Your Genre?
I think the difference is regional. I have not strayed far in my sense of place when telling a story. Every tale is centered in a place I have lived, where I knew the community and felt the vibe. There are not that many other contemporary novels set in Wisconsin (save our homeboy Michael Perry and "The Art of Fielding"). I also think my stories have an element of the unexpected. Often when I read a book, even a good book, I have a sense of where the story is going. I am often surprised by my own work, even after the dozens of readings.
3. Why Do You Write What You Write?
I write when I feel compelled to tell a story. There is always a theme, or a feeling, or a general sense of discontent that needs to be translated into an entertaining story. Very often, I am inspired by people. Everyone has a story if you take the time to listen. Life is interesting!
4. What is Your Writing Process, And How Does It Work?
When I get an idea, I start doing a lot of research. I start a notebook to take as many notes of facts as I can. My background is in journalism, so I tend to investigate before I write. I read a lot of books with the same themes/characters/etc.... I investigate what I am trying to accomplish. I research my main character's problems and learn about quirks, behaviors, trends, perhaps even the science with that specific problem.
Once I feel I have a grasp of the facts, I start to explore the fiction side, starting with the character and his/her problem and his/her goals. I put together a rough outline and start writing. It doesn't always go as planned, but sometimes it does.
I sit on drafts for months and months and do multiple rewrites/revisions. This is where I feel I put in the most work. I may have a problem with that, but I want them to be perfect. There is a cadence to a well written story that carries the reader along. If I can achieve a cadence that carries me, I know I've got it and the first time reader would have an even more amazing experience.