by Theresa Miller
Veronica Bane is a Writing Pad student and published author of the well-received book series, “The Unusuals.” Veronica agreed to talk with us about her book, what makes her a unique writer, and what helped her get published.
1. What inspired you to write your YA novella series?
I love writing about teenagers that make terrible decisions. I was inspired by comic books and films where the characters are given these great responsibilities, but I wanted to write about it from the perspective of young adults who didn’t necessarily react well to those responsibilities. In particular, I wanted to write about a female protagonist who was complex and, in parts, unlikable.
2. Do your books “Mara” and “Miyuki,” about teenagers who have supernatural abilities dealing with adolescence, mirror any part of your own teenage years?
Absolutely! Some of these characters actually surfaced during my teenage years. They’ve changed substantially, and some are completely new, but they’re definitely born of my own angst. I did not personally go through all of the issues in my books, but these issues are so common that it was actually surprising to me that they are so often ignored in young adult literature. I wanted to write a book that didn’t shy away from tougher issues that young adults face.
3. Even though you are a published author, you continue to take writing classes at Writing Pad, including a novel writing class. How do Writing Pad classes help you with writing? What do you like best about the classes you have taken here?
I started taking Writing Pad classes after I had already finished a first draft of Mara. I missed the workshop classes that I had taken in college, and I was also new to Los Angeles and wanted to make some writing friends. Once I started, though, I couldn’t stop. I loved the welcoming environment of the classes, the amazing teachers, and the passionate writers that I met in class.
In particular, the novel writing classes propel me to finish drafts quickly and allow me to get feedback about my work. I wrote the last third of Miyuki this way, and it was key to getting me to finish on-schedule and to produce something that was really polished.
4. You are a prolific writer. You’ve finished personal essays, short stories, a screenplay, two novellas, and you are working on a new novel. Plus, you have a demanding job as a school teacher. How do you make time for your writing? What is your writing schedule like?
It’s important that I protect my writing and treat it as a job. I assign myself word counts and designate hours to work on my writing. I think of it as “clocking in” to my writing, and I don’t allow myself to not do the work I’ve assigned. When I’m teaching, I’m fully present at that job, and it’s the same when I’m writing. Sometimes, that means sequestering myself at a coffeehouse, but it’s different for everyone.
5. What do you think stands out about your writing and how did you get your novella published? Do you have any advice for aspiring fiction writers just starting out?
In college, I had a professor tell us that there are only two stories in the world: person goes on a journey and stranger in a strange land. In that way, he said, you will never write a new story. However, if you try your hardest, you can tell those stories in new ways. You can tell stories in your own voice. You can dare to stand up in front of the world and say that you have something interesting that might be worthwhile. That stuck with me and freed me a bit. It can be paralyzing when you worry about how your writing will stand out, but if you let yourself tell the truest story that you know, then you end up with something special. My goal was to tell the story that was inside me, and once I did, I decided it was worth putting out there.
There will always be someone better or worse than you at writing. There are readers out there for every story if you’re willing to go after them. I took a risk and e-mailed a publisher that I met at an event, and he told me that I was one of the only writers he spoke to that night that bothered to send him an e-mail. If you want to write, take chances and don’t be afraid of rejection. Write the best story that you can write, and then take it to the world.
Thank you so much, Veronica! Her second installment to The Unusuals series is “Miyuki,” which will be released April 2014 under Black Hill Press.