March 26, 2013

interview with the author of 'someone else's fairytale'

Blogger's Note: After reviewing E.M. Tippetts' Someone Else's Fairytale yesterday (read it here and an excerpt here), I'm pleased to welcome the author to dish on writing this book, fairy tales, inspiration and more.

Change the Word: How did you come up with the idea for this book?
E.M. Tippetts: The idea was too funny to pass up. A woman who is down to earth and not easily impressed has the most famous actor on the planet eating out of her hand? There was so much possibility there, but what sums up the idea is the scene in which Jason Vanderholt, the Hollywood A-lister, shows up on the doorstep of Chloe Winters, the main character, with a carton of ice cream that he wants to spoon feed her. Millions of women dream about this, but for Chloe, it's awkward. It'd be like having some total stranger show up on your doorstep with this offer.

What is your planning and research process like?
EMT: I first figure out what kind of story I want to write, and then I do some limited research before I begin the first draft. The key is *not* to do all your research up front because you can research just about anything endlessly. For Someone Else's Fairytale, I read up a little on the film industry, but then I just started to write scenes and as I wrote them, I noted down what I needed to know, i.e. how a set is organized, what kinds of services the extras are offered, the way the stars are treated, that sort of thing. Anything that was central to the plot I'd stop and research as I came to it, but a lot of what I needed to know was just window dressing, so I finished the first draft and then spoke at length to a friend who did her MFA in film at UCLA and worked on a feature film set. I also spoke to Laura Mixon Gould, who's husband's book, Jumper, was turned into a film. She told me what it was like to attend a premiere, how things were organized, that sort of thing. And I'm sure I got things wrong too, but I did my best, and if I get movie stars calling me up to complain, I'll think, "Wow! I just got called by a movie star!!!"

CTW: How do you stay motivated to keep writing?
EMT: My situation is a little unusual, but not unheard of. I have the mild obsessive disorder that dictates I have to write, or I'm not a happy person. Now, I don't have to write well, or write stuff for other people to read, but I do need to sit down and talk to my imaginary friends on paper every single day. My desire to write things that can sell is due to the incredible frustration I'd feel devoting that much time to writing and having nothing to show for it. I'm a pragmatist that way. I figure I might as well turn it into a source of passive income, and that's what drives me, the knowledge that I'll be sitting down and writing whether I really want to or not, so why not make the words count for something.

CTW: How do you avoid distractions while you were writing?
EMT: Because I'm a stay at home mommy with two little kids, I can't get distraction free writing time. It just doesn't exist, so instead I've had to learn to write despite distractions. Corey Doctorow put it best... only I don't remember his exact words (sorry Corey). The gist of it was, he began to sell stories when he made himself write every day, no matter the circumstances, even when he was in an airport in Southeast Asia and the only electrical socket was under a massive table pushed up against the wall. He crawled under that table, plugged in his laptop, and got to work. I imagine him when I've got children screaming in my ears.

CTW: Are there any must-haves for you while writing (snacks, music, etc.)?
EMT: I get into the habit of using the same computer. I angered a minor computer deity sometime in my past (on accident, no idea what I did) and thus have the worst computer troubles of anyone you'll ever meet. No, really. My husband learned this the hard way when the laptop he'd used with a very modified form of Linux to run complex models proceded to die when we restored it to the factory Windows settings for me. The font got permanently changed to Wingdings, for everything, and there was no way to change it back, and when we took it in to have it looked at, they lost it for a week. So then my husband built me another computer, but we couldn't install any operating system on it, for no reason that he could discern. Might I remind you that he's an engineer who does his own Linux modifications and really complex modeling? Finally we managed to find a way to start installing Windows on it, but during the installation the power went out and damaged the hard drive. That is a normal kind of story for me. My poor husband just about lost his mind.

Anyway, back to your question, I get used to working on the same computer so it's the closest thing I have to a must have. I'm most comfortable working on the same machine, be it laptop, desktop, or even just a little netbook, day in and day out. Having to switch slows me down. That's my only must have, really.

What is your favorite fairytale story?
EMT: Shrek II, the one that affirmed that true love is the ultimate fairytale, committing to the right person is how you get happily ever after, and asserted that everyone, no matter how hideous, deserves their Cinderalla moments. As for the classic fairytales, I'm not a huge fan of the genre.

If you could trade places with any Disney princess, who would you switch with and why?
EMT: Belle from Beauty and the Beast, because of that library he gave her. Most Romantic Gift EVER!

CTW: A lady after my own heart. Have you ever had a real-life fairy tale moment? If so describe.
EMT: I've had one that other people might consider a fairytale, and is likely part of the subconscious inspiration for my book. I won't name names, but I had a favorite author growing up and as an adult, I began to correspond with him. Through a series of random events, I got to know his son and dated him for a while, and I remember thinking that this is the kind of thing they make fairytales out of, but that such fairytale moments are wasted on me. It was a funny coincidence, nothing more.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
EMT: Get training early and often. It's my one regret, that I didn't sign up for creative writing courses in high school, but since I did get training in my twenties, I can see how much it's helped me. Obviously, it isn't something I'll ever stop acquiring, whether it be from workshops, writers groups, articles, essays, books, etc. but it really can make a significant difference to the quality of your work.

CTW: Anything else you would like to share?
EMT: Just a sincere thank you for the opportunity to have this interview!

Don't forget to check out my review (here) and an excerpt of the book (here).

About the Author
E.M. Tippetts grew up in New Mexico and now lives in London, where she raises two boisterous toddlers, designs jewelry, and writes novels. A former attorney, she used to specialize in real estate and estate planning, specifically literary estate planning. She currently has five novels out, Time & Eternity, Paint Me True, Someone Else's Fairytale, Castles on the Sand, and Nobody's Damsel (Fairytale 2).

Connect with E.M.

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