About a year or so ago, I won a Twitter contest from Becky Wallace, an author I’d heard of and whose books I wanted to read eventually. She sent me a signed copy of her first book with some swag, and I was so excited! It was my first time winning a Twitter giveaway and I was still a young blogger and hadn’t interacted with a lot of authors, so I was just mostly in shock. And then on the postcard she included, she said that she used to live on the same street that I was living on at the time! Fun fact: She went to my same college and lived on my same street. How cool, right!
And then this past summer, I was able to meet Becky Wallace at a signing she did nearby, and I read both of her published books—Storyspinner and Skylighter. She was literally the cutest, and we had this great interaction at her signing:
She didn’t want to be creepy, so she tweeted at me before approaching, which I found totally endearing hahaha. Anyway, I wanted to showcase her books and her, so since I’ve talked and interacted with her, I thought I’d interview her and share her answers with you! AND she was nice enough to offer to giveaway a signed paperback copy of Storyspinner with some swag.
So go read her answers and then enter her giveaway!
Interview with Becky Wallace
What inspired The Storyspinner for you?
When my daughter was a toddler, she was in a Sleeping Beauty phase. She wanted to watch it every single day. One day, I was snuggled up to her on the couch sort of half-asleep, half-listening when the scene where Aurora meets Prince Phillip in the woods for the first time came on. In my near-coma state, the sheer creepiness of that scene registered. A guy grabs a girl in the woods and sings and dance with her?? And she totally goes along with it?? Nope. That is so not okay. And there I was, letting my little girl think that that sort of behavior was okay. That night I sat down and wrote how that scene should have played out (with punching and screaming and kicking), and it became chapter three in the final version of STORYSPINNER.
Were you always intending to write a sequel? And, for you, what was the difference between writing the first book and then writing its sequel?
Yes! I always intended to write a sequel. There was way too much story for just one book. Writing sequels is tricky business. You have to increase the tension between romantic interests, you have to leave enough room for your characters to learn and grow, you have to close all the loops you left open in the first book. I had the book pretty well plotted out before I had to write it, but I also knew more about crafting a book. Sometimes I’d read through my draft and think about theme, character arc, passive voice, and wonder how I’d ever written a book without consciously thinking about those things. My first book was definitely an experiment. Everything that came after that was honing my craft.
What was your journey to publication?
I was very, very lucky and got an agent with my first manuscript. But then it didn’t sell, nor the next one, nor the next. STORYSPINNER was my last-ditch effort at getting published. I’m so, so grateful that I didn’t give up! We got bites very quickly from publishing houses, and then Simon & Schuster offered a pre-empt. It was such a dream come true!
How do you keep going and keep writing even when you feel discouraged?
YA Author Stephanie Perkins once wrote a post about “Love Lists.” Basically, when you get discouraged or can’t remember why you’re writing a particular story, you make a list of all the things you loved about it when you started. Sometimes I’ve deviated from my original storyline, idea, character arc, whatever, and the Love List helps me get back on track!
How have you balanced being a mother, wife, and a published author?
I’m not going to lie—it’s a challenge. I have to be very disciplined and possessive of my writing time, and I have to be very disciplined of my mom duties. I only write when my kids are asleep—I can’t focus when I have a million interruptions—and while that’s frustrating, it also allows me time to think about what I’m going to write while I do laundry and prep dinner. I also try to sneak my other author-related activities in random places. Right now, I’m writing this interview while my littlest is at her gymnastics lesson.
Probably my favorite part of the book were the Portuguese elements because I’ve never seen that before! What inspired that?
After my freshman year of college, I spent a mont in Brazil with my dance team. It was an incredible experience! Urban Brazil has such an interesting mix of business, nature, street markets, modern and ancient. I pulled on that experience to help build the physical world of Santarem. My husband is fluent in Portuguese; he served a mission for our church, and travels to Brazil every year for work. He helped me figure out the language and choose words that were accurate but not commonly used so that the story had the Portuguese-feel without being straight from Brazil.
There are so many different magic systems throughout literature. How did you create the magic system in your story and make it unique?
There are a lot of stories with elemental magic, but I don’t know of any other stories where some characters can command all the elements (mages) and some can only command one element with perfect precision. I wanted to use a system that felt similar without being completely familiar.
What character do you relate to the most and why?
I definitely relate to Johanna the most! She’s devoted to her family, tries to do the right thing, and has a hard time asking for help.
What character was the most fun for you to write and why?
Dom for sure!! He’s so funny and witty and secretly tender-hearted. He was a blast to write!
There are a ton of perspectives in your book! When you were writing, how did you keep those straight and unique to each character?
The first draft of STORYSPINNER only had three POVs, but my editor asked me to flesh out the others. I think the biggest thing that helped keep their voices unique was trying to write from the perspective of their flaw. Jacaré was so jaded, so I wrote with his character with a little bitterness in my head. Rafi sees the world in black and white, so I approached his voice with a distinct sense of honor and honesty. Once you figure out what each character’s flaw is, you can identify how they’d approach every situation.
What are some of your favorite books/authors that have been influential in your life and writing?
I LOVE Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers (Duvall is my book boyfriend!), and Mary Pearson’s Remnant Chronicles is one of the best fantasy series EVER. I also love the classics—Lord of the Rings, The Black Cauldron, and The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.
Do you listen to music while writing? What are some things on your playlist?
Sometimes?? I can listen to songs with lyrics while I’m drafting, but can’t while I revise. Right now I’m listening to the Last of the Mohican sound track. It’s super motivating!!
Is there anything else you want to share? About yourself or your books?
I wrote my books because they were stories I wanted to read. I wanted my daughters to have a really positive, if imperfect, role model. So if you like strong, flawed characters, fight scenes, magic, and kissing, then maybe you’ll like my books!
Vanilla or chocolate?: Chocolate every time.
E-reader or physical books?: E-Reader (sadly) It’s easier to read on the elliptical.
Movies or TV?: Movies, right now. I don’t have time for TV.
Favorite drink?: Mt. Dew Kickstart Blood Orange. It’s a good source of Vitamin C. 😉
Paperback or hardcover?: Hardcover without the dust jacket. Spines are so pretty!
No giveaway accounts (I will check)
You must be at least 18 years or have your parent’s permission to enter