Thursday, September 29, 2011

Another Friendly Conversation: Chantele Sedgwick

So, I had a whopping TWO entries for my contest. I guess that's better than nothing. So I've decided that both Angela and Tanya can pick one of the books I offered. They'll also both get the full 5K word critique. Thank you both!

Now, today I'm proud to host my friend Chantele Sedgwick. Hers was one of the first blogs I started following and it's well worth checking out. So, on to our little chat.

How did you get started as a writer?

I've always had stories in my head, ever since I was little. After I had my second baby, I finally started writing them down. I loved it so much that I'll never give it up! :)

I was the same way. I've been writing ever since I was little, but I got started on my first real project during my freshman year of college.

What was your first complete story?

My first complete book was The Last Heir. I actually talked about it on my blog this week. It's a classic fantasy with a princess and a crazy villain, a prince, castles and lots of sword fighting. :)

Ooh, that actually sounds really fun! Any chance of seeing it?

What made you decide to write it?

I had The Last Heir in my head for a very long time. I finally decided to write it down. I actually finished it and didn't know what to do with it. My hubby told me to try to get it published and that started my journey toward publication. Though that book was put away a long time ago, I would LOVE to go back and visit that world someday.

Ah, my last question answered! I hope you do revisit it someday...and the sooner the better.

Do you free-write or outline?

Pantser all the way! Woot!

You have to tell me how you do it. I don't like outlining, but I can never get anywhere pantsing.

If you free-write, how do you keep things organized?

I rarely outline. I do tend to write certain ideas down, and sometimes I'll write characters names and descriptions if there are a lot in my story, but I always sit down and just write whatever comes to me. I never write scenes that are in the middle or end of the book when I'm working on the beginning. I go in order. I'd freak out if I had a ton of scenes written with no clue where to put them. I should probably learn to outline a little, but I'm almost finished with my 5th book now, so my method works for me. ;)

Now that's admirable work!

What do you do to counteract writers block?

Honestly, I don't get it very often. But there are times when I'm not quite sure how to write a scene, or something just isn't working. I usually distract myself from it by writing or editing something else. Then I'll mull it over for a few days and usually I have it figured out by then. When in doubt, write something new. 

You continue to astound me! This is generally how I write, but for me it's slow, slow going and I'm constantly distracted by new ideas.

How do you keep your characters original? (i.e. what do you do to make sure your characters don't turn out the same in every story?)

Every character speaks to me differently, since they are all in different stories. Some are loud and obnoxious, some are quiet. Some know exactly what they want, some have no idea. I make sure to give them their own quirks and talents. Likes and dislikes. And I have to remember even if my characters are very different, my voice stays the same. And that's a good thing. If someone likes my voice, then hopefully they'll like whatever I write. Does that make sense? lol

Of course! The author's voice can make or break a book. I can't stand Terry Brooks or Earnest Hemmingway for that very reason.
What exercises do you use to develop your characters?

Uh ... none? I just write whatever character is in my head at the moment. If I am having a hard time with a character's personality, I'll write a bunch of questions down and answer them as if I were the character. But most of the time, I don't have any problem's getting into my characters heads.

Lucky! I have to know at least the basic back story for each of my characters, just so I know how they would talk or behave. I generally start out with an idea, but I have to delve into the character to understand why, and that helps me keep the character consistent.

How do you build a believable world within your stories?

Honestly, I have no idea. I just write whatever comes to me. I don't do a ton of world building when I'm drafting. I like to get the story out and then go back and do all the details. It takes me a while to get everything believeable and perfect during revisions and editing. I have to make people want to care about my characters and make the world they live in "real". It's hard for me to get my worlds just right. Probably the hardest thing about my writing, since I can see the world in my mind, but I have to make sure my readers see it too.

Again, I envy you. I tend to be a bit of a slave to world-building. It's a sickness really: I have to know everything about the world, or else it drives me to distraction while I'm trying to write.
What do you do to make your whole story interesting? How do you avoid "slow stretches"?

I always, always end my chapters with something that makes the reader want to turn the page and read more. There has to be some kind of conflict in each chapter. Whether it's a tense scene between the MC and her love interest, or a fight scene. An argument or a mystery that must be solved. I always have something going on. I don't like just writing whatever and then wondering what the heck it had to do with the story. I think it through. From conversations, to actions. And if it doesn't move the story forward at all, I cut it.

I totally agree! For me at least, it's easier said than done. This is why I am forced to make an outline.

How does your own life inform your writing?

My own life is a big part of my writing. I put a little part of myself into every character I write. Whether it's a trait or something stupid that happened to me when I was a teenager. ;) Some are subtle, some are more obvious. Also, the world is so depressing that I am a huge believer in happy endings in books. I have to have at least a little bit of hope. And my books always end on a happy note. I do like issue books, don't get me wrong, I just like hope. Love. Brighter things in life that make the world less gloomy. I want people to feel good after reading one of my books. You know?

I totally know what you mean. That's actually why I'm not a big fan of contemporary fiction—I get enough of real life everyday, especially on the news.

Have you ever attended a writing convention or conference?


If so, which one(s)?

LDStorymakers in Salt Lake City this year. I loved it.

I wanted to go to that, but I found about it too late.

What did you learn from it?

I learned so much about the craft that I can't begin to even explain it all here. What I loved most about the conference though, is that I'm not alone in this crazy dream of mine to get published. There are so many amazing writers. It's nice to know we're all in this together. Everyone was SO nice. Can't wait for next year!

I'm excited to go to my first one!

Who is your favorite author?

Ugh... I hate this question. There are SO many I love. I'll go with one of the obvious ones, since I'm a HUGE fantasy fan. J.K. Rowling. Her characters were all complex and amazing. I'll love those books forever.

Hahaha! I know it's a terrible question, but I have to ask.

Favorite book?

Another question I hate! lol The Harry Potter series, Twilight, (yes, I know) The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale, etc. So many!

See above.
Favorite genre to read?

YA fantasy. Hands down.

I love YA fantasy too, but I am also a huge fan of YA Sci-fi.
Favorite genre to write?

Ya fantasy. Obviously. ;)

It is fun.

When you're not writing, what do you do in your spare time?

Take care of my three little kids and my cute hubby! :) I also sing a lot. And read!

Sing and reading? You should meet my wife ;)

What are three interesting facts about you?

I've played the harp for 21 years; eyes freak me out; I'd rather give birth than go to the dentist; I hate lawn gnomes. They're creepy little eyes are always watching... :)

Isn't child birth more painful than the dentist? Granted, definitely more worthwhile...


  1. Great interview Chantele though I'd have to disagree, set me down with a dentist any day versus 12 hours of unmedicated labor pains (yeah, I know, every mother has some kind of story lol!!!)

    Thanks Reece. I am ASTONISHED that you didn't have a ton of people trying to crash your system with replies for the contest. I love getting different viewpoints on my work. And helpful, constructive criticism works to make me a better writer. So *happy dance for me*!!

  2. *facepalm*

    I completely forgot about your contest.

    Epic. Blogger. Fail! Is it too late to enter?

    Loved your interview with Chantele. It's great to get to know more inside facts about her. Thanks for hosting! :)

  3. Okay, that was HILARIOUS. Not that I expected any less from Chantele.

  4. Good to hear from Chantele. Thanks for the interview, Reece!

  5. Okay, I keep trying to leave a comment and blogger keeps kicking me out. Maybe it thinks I'm harrasing you or something. I am over here a lot! So if you get like twelve comments from me, just delete a few! Sorry.

    Killer interview, btw! I'm still giggling over the lawn gnomes. (Who owns those creepy little gnomeos anyway?) It was wonderful to get inside Chantele head. May all your endings be happy ones. Mine always are too, no matter how dark the world gets.

    And Reece that is so sweet of you to declare us both winners. (Yay!) But like Angela I'm shocked you weren't bombared with reading material-- you're contest was kicka and so much fun! Of course I do like a challenge. Thanks for hosting it.

  6. GREAT interview Chantele and Reece!

    And Chantele? High fives! I don't do anything to develop my characters other than to WRITE them. And live inside their heads during the long revision process.

  7. Thank you guys!! And thanks again, Reece, for having me! :)