Which authors inspire you?

I love, love, love to read. If I wasn’t writing right now I’d be reading. Technically writing lets you read and write at the same time…but anyway, authors that inspire me.

I’ll have to start with Charles Dickens. I’ve read a lot of his work. My favourites are Great Expectation’s, Oliver Twist and A Tale of Two Cities. I like how descriptive his writing is…although I won’t lie there are times I’ve skimmed through it to get back to the main story. Still, I admire it because he really does paint a picture for the reader. I’ve attempted to put that level of detail into my writing in the past but stopped out of fear that I might bore my readers. I actually prefer to write dialogue.

Io Sakisaka is also someone I admire. I still can’t grasp how she can so expertly express relationships through her work. I don’t think I’ve read a manga that had me blushing and crying within a few panels of each other. Since romance is her genre of focus, it’s very interesting how she goes about playing with concepts and ideas surrounding love, friendship and family.

When I first read, S.E. Hinton, I think that was when I told myself I wanted my work to be published one day. I wanted people to love my character’s as much as I loved hers. I also considered using a pen name at the time versus my own. I liked how she managed to weave her stories together and I’m glad that she had Ponyboy show up in one of her other novels.

If I’m being honest, I feel like every author I’ve ever read has inspired me in some way. Whether it’s through their use of descriptions, their pacing, their character’s. Whatever it was that drew me to their work, has also inspired my own writing over the years.

I love the different ways we writers weave our words. How those words lift off the page, creating images, mustering emotions and forming even the faintest of smells. How a single sentence can capture so much…it’s always fascinated me. I think that’s what I love about books. You can open one up and be transported.

Help! My TBR list keeps growing!

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen the following tweets:

On top of this spontaneous haul, I’ve been trying to catch up on my TBR pile, one that has been accumulating over the span of about 3 years now. In university my sister and I would go buy new books just about every other weekend…just to get out of the house. At the time I also was blessed with many, many gift cards from my family members so that I could indulge in this ever growing obsession.

If not, it is my pleasure to announce that I went on a bit of a book binge…and the books I purchased had not initially been on my wishlist. My ever growing wishlist.

Sadly some books I purchased during my studies I never got around to because I was busy reading for school.

One thing they don’t tell you about studying literature is that it can make you hate reading. At least periodically….

What happens is you’re no loner reading for fun or being allowed to choose what you want to read…you have to read whatever is on the syllabus and some of it is the absolutely most boring, drab, dull pieces of literature in the entire existence of the written word.

Wow…that was really shady of me…but it’s honest.

My friends and I all expressed our disdain usually near midterms or examination periods for reading. Trying to force yourself to read books you absolutely hate can be just as stressful as writing essays on said books for your final.

My solution however wasn’t to stop reading altogether. I adore books. I adore reading. I used to spend hours in books stores browsing…which really annoyed my family but as I’ve gotten older I’ve become the “designated book person” where I basically buy books for them that I think they’ll enjoy or help them find ones that they’ve had their eye on.

I’m also the one who picks books to give my niece for her birthday and Christmas gifts. I always go for something I think she’ll actually get a kick out of. She likes books with a lot of crazy shenanigans so I actually have a lot of fun choosing them for her. It also gives me an excuse to randomly read children’s and MG fiction again (and honestly a lot of them are brilliant!)

Sorry I got a bit off topic there…but basically my solution was to read comics and manga for fun and read the novels I had to read for school. Thus my comic and manga collection grew immensely and in turn rekindled my love for reading.

This form of literature reads a lot faster, so I had time to read them between completing my assigned readings for class. On top of that, because of the artwork they were barely boring (even in some where the plot got a bit dry at times).

Anyway, I’ve been desperately trying to catch up on these books during quarantine and as a result I reached my 2020 reading goal very quickly…and decided to increase it. Which I’ll probably do again because I just bought a bunch of books and have a lot more I’m planning on reading.

As you saw from my Tweet I bought the first three books from the series Nana. I also bought Paradise Kiss (I got the 20th anniversary edition!) and the first book to a manwha I read in high school called Chocolat.

However on top of those I have several books on my wishlist that I’m planning on getting in the very near future:

The first being Love in Focus Books 2 and 3. As mentioned in my review of book 1 I’m really looking forward to continuing this series. I instantly felt drawn to the characters!

I’m also looking forward to reading A Song of Wraiths and Ruin. So many people have recommended this book to me and the reviews have been fantastic. I’m really excited about it.

I also have Mexican Gothic on my wishlist along with The War Widow. Some of my favourite reads in university were in the American Southern Gothic genre (I’m Canadian). So Mexican Gothic got me very excited by the synopsis. I really want to read this book. I haven’t heard any reviews on it yet either…so I’m extremely curious!

As for other manga (aside from Love in Focus) I’ve been looking forward to getting the new releases from the series Love Me, Love Me Not, and Daytime Shooting Star. I’ve also had a book from this series called Living-room Matsunaga-san that keeps popping up in my recommendations, so I’ve added book 1 to my wishlist.

I plan on reviewing all of them, which seems a bit ambitious at the moment since I’m currently reading 4 books and am planning on starting several others later this week.

What I’m Reading Right Now:

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Takane and Hana Vol.2

Papillon Vol. 3

The Girl From the Other Side Vol. 2

I just finished reading Monster Vol. 3 and I plan on starting Second Best, Anna Blue off the Record and A Girl on the Shore as well. So…yah. I’m basically going to have to force myself not to binge buy anything on my wishlist else until I’ve completed my current TBR list. To have so many unread books accumulate like that…at least in my opinion is a bit silly. I try my best to be responsible when buying books, since I know I tend to buy a bunch at one time…but last month I actually managed to only get what I needed. I bought I think 3 in total back in July. August I’ve purchased 5 thus far…and have others I’d like to get, but I’m going to wait and save up for them. I try to limit my book budget to around $40 at a time…but as one of the greats said:

“Everybody makes mistakes, everybody has those days.”

Hannah Montana

Drawing and Character Profiles

For as long as I can remember, I have loved drawing the characters in my stories. They take up most of the pages in my sketchbooks.

Back in 5th grade, I had a character that I used to draw all the time, who my friends were very familiar with. This character always wore striped tops and beret. She was fun to draw and used to appear in some of my comic shorts, that I would make.

As I got older, and began writing novels I continued to draw my characters. I love to draw…it’s something that I think has always been with me. I don’t think I’m the worlds greatest artist or anything…I’ve never actually taken any lessons, and I probably use way too much gel pen, but it makes me happy and helps me capture my characters.

From Strobe Edge

If you’ve ever read a manga, one thing that is commonly done in the author/artist panels are little character profiles. I actually did these for every character in my first novel series when I was 13. It was fun!

I still do create profiles for my characters and sketch them out, but I don’t do it like this example here, anymore. I have character info on a separate document and keep my drawings in my ever growing pile of sketchbooks.

Right now I’m working on a series of head shot type drawings of my characters, that I’d like to display later on my blog and website. I may need to redo one of them, and I’m still debating on whether or not I’ll colour them by hand or digitally.

I’m currently inking one.

Sometimes I record my drawing and colouring process and post it on Instagram. I’ve posted it on YouTube before as well, which is fun too.

This video I was doing a self portrait versus drawing one of my characters…but as you can see, I really like using glitter. I think after having it banned when my sister and I were little (after our older brother got us glitter glue pens…and we got it all over the carpet), as an adult I went on a bit of a glitter gel pen binge at the art store.

I’ve seen other authors do or get character sketches commissioned and I think it is so much fun! Since I’ve been working on my debut series since I was 17, my drawing style and techniques have changed, and so has how I draw my characters. The original sketches of them look so different. I actually did a few redraws of characters from my first series last year for a few friends who had read the series (it wasn’t published but a lot of my friends and classmates were following it). I still get asked about it a lot…and I WILL return to it someday. I just need to fix it.

When I wrote the first book at 13 I didn’t use chapter headings and it had way too many plot holes. I learned a lot writing that series for three year. Like, when writing by hand, use page numbers and chapter headings or your editing process will be an absolute nightmare!

Do you ever draw your characters?

Book Talk Episode 2: Relationships and Growing Up.

Relationships do play a big role in my debut novel. I’m a big fan of Io Sakisaka not only for her gorgeous artwork, but how she continues to explore the different aspects of love and relationships in her stories.

Futaba, Ao Haru Ride

In one of her series she perfectly illustrations how our feelings and thoughts about relationships change as we grow. When writing my series I wanted to capture those moments of surprise and revelation, that she does so well in her work. Two of my main characters are introduced years after their relationship came to an end. Now and then one of them will recall how they grew together, and went from friends to lovers to not being able to stand one another. The emotions that come while they are in these moments of recollection are some that I feel really resonate throughout. A lot of the time the question in their mind is, “Why?” or “What if?” but neither of them has the courage to try and answer that question for themselves. Growing up, you go through so many different experiences and emotions and a lot of them you face with your friends and family. So many hours of the day is spent (in normal circumstances of course…and not during a pandemic) in school, and many people attend school with the same group of people most of their academic lives.

Little boys watching baseball

I often think about the wonderful friendship my parents have had since their days in elementary school. I’m a little envious, because I switched schools a few times when we moved but I thankfully have managed to keep in contact with people from my elementary and high school days. Still, I often ask myself the same question my characters ask themselves throughout the series, “Why did this happen?” or “What if I did this differently” when recalling certain situations or feelings from those days. I’m not very old, but I think every year you wonder about more and more…and you realize that you know less and less.

Girls looking up at the sky

Our relationships really do shape us, and even if they are for a season, teach us not only about others but about ourselves. How to we react in certain situations, how to we cooperate and interact with other people? Are we capable of jealously? Are we capable of compassion? These are all things that we encounter as we grow, and things that I admire about Io’s work that I want to present in my own. I find that characters who think and feel so fully…are characters that we are drawn to. You don’t even have to like them. The character could be an awful person, but if they are fleshed out well, that really resonates throughout the work.

Kou and Futaba, Ao Haru Ride

I hope to get to a point where my characters thoughts, reactions and emotions come to me so naturally, that it is like they’re an old friend. I love watching them take shape, and discover things about themselves as I write. It’s a unique experience…and it really does resemble growing up.