In your website bio, you said, "I rock climb, even though I’m afraid of heights." In what ways do you overcome your fear to climb?
I should probably start by admitting I boulder, and don’t do vertical climbing. With bouldering you don’t use a rope or harness… but you also never get more than six feet off the ground.
But, but, for someone who’s afraid of heights, that’s still plenty daunting. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve reached the top of a route and had a meltdown. And when you’re hanging upside down in the air, you really don’t want to get shaky. I wouldn’t die if I fell, but it wouldn’t be pleasant either.
The thing is, I love climbing. It’s ridiculously fun. I can’t change my fear of heights, but I don’t want it to keep me from doing something I enjoy.
The same goes for other things in my life. (Sometimes I think I have an excessive number of fears.) I’m terrified of airplanes, but I don’t want that to prevent me from traveling. I get nervous in large crowds, but I don’t want that to prevent me from having new experiences.
I’m envious of fearless, daredevil types. I wish I was braver. But I have a friend who once pointed out that being brave doesn’t mean you’re never afraid. Bravery is being afraid of something and doing it anyway.
That’s how I try to live my life. It’s okay to be a huge baby sometimes. It’s okay to get scared of silly things that no one else seems bothered by. But if I can push through that fear, and not let it control me, I think I’m doing pretty alright.
Indeed you are--and finding ways to be comfortable within uncertainty is something we can all strive for. Speaking of uncertainty, I love Hawthorn's voice--especially its stream-of-consciousness nature. In what ways did she speak to you while you wrote her story, and were there moments where she surprised you?
First of all, thank you for the compliment! Writing Hawthorn was a blast—and in a way, everything about her surprised me.
When I sat down to begin The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett, I knew Hawthorn’s story, but I didn’t really know her. Then I wrote the first line:
The first thing that happened was Lizzie Lovett disappeared and everyone was all, “How can someone like Lizzie be missing?” and I was like, “Who cares?”
And that line set the tone for the rest of the book. Before I knew it, I had an entire chapter of Hawthorn’s off-the-wall, wandery, musings. Then another chapter, then another.
I never intended for Hawthorn to be quite so odd. Or funny, for that matter. In a way, she told me who she was supposed to be, not the other way around. And it was thrilling to uncover her personality along the way.
It's wonderful when characters speak on their own--and I love Hawthorn the way she is. I also love the layout of your website! What were some of your main priorities in building an online platform?
Ah, the online platform. So necessary today, yet to mysterious. (To me, anyway.)
As someone who’s very shy, connecting with people in general is hard for me. I know other people with social anxiety, and a lot of them prefer online interactions to in-person. It makes sense that it should be easier to be outgoing online. Yet, for me, it’s just as difficult.
Example: I’ll be about to press “publish” on a blog post and have a rush of fear about how terribly written it is, or how anyone who reads it will think I’m strange, or how I have no interesting things to say. Has anyone ever actually made me feel that way? No. Yet, I can’t prevent those thoughts from running through my mind.
As you can imagine, this makes building an online platform a little complicated.
My main priority has been putting myself out there. Pushing through the fear, like I mentioned earlier. I try to make myself accessible through my website or on social media, and always get excited when someone starts a conversation with me. And even though blogging or Tweeting or posting to Instagram might make me nervous, I try to suck it up and do it anyway.
Does this mean I have the greatest online platform? Of course not. There are so many authors who do it better than me. But I’m trying, and I’ll continue to.
So, I guess my biggest priority, is simply to be present.
Definitely a priority for us all. What are some of your current projects?
I’m currently revising my second book. I don’t want to give too much away yet. But briefly: It’s about a strange town in the Nevada desert, a very broken boy who lives there, and… wishes. A lot of wishes.
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