AMANDA K TAYLOR [aktaylor]
How and why did you begin to be creative?
I have always been creative as far back as I can remember. Being creative for me is like breathing, so I don't know the answer to why aside from that I love doing it and it comes natural.
Your mind is your work tool. How do you take care of it?
I keep it fed and rested. I also exercise it every day. My mind doesn't stop working until I pillow my head at night unless it just won't shut off. Then I don't sleep.
How do you avoid repeating yourself, or falling into formula? How do you stay fresh?
I try to think of many ways to say the same thing. Staying fresh is a little bit of a challenge, and I don't fall into a formula too much, but it does happen. I just have to back up and rethink something some more.
Do you have a ritual like retiring to a lonely place from time to time to cleanse your mind?
Yes I do. I go out into the woods to sit and admire nature or go for a walk. I also have a place to sit and watch my honeybees come in and out of the hive that is under a large shade tree.
What cultural sources do you draw from the most?
I draw from Native American culture, ancient Egyptian culture, and medieval culture of various types.
Who have your teachers been?
I didn't really have any teachers. I have been creative since I was a toddler.
When you accept a job, how much value do you place on each of the following? Money, creative liberty, visibility, and to work with the best.
Money is not a big driving factor, but it does gauge of what I am willing to deal with as far as "crap" to put up with that comes with any job. Visibility depends on the type of work at hand. Most of the time I don't want to be seen or noticed in normal work environments. For my writing career it's a whole different thing since I am my brand and my work is my product. Creative liberty is a big one. If I can't exercise that then the job is boring, and I don't feel motivated and I loose interest.
"To give birth to ideas." Is this only an expression, or are there really parallels between giving birth and creativity?
I have never given birth to a child per se, but when you create something it is a part of you much the same. When you create a book it is like your baby. When you create a character that is so real then you can have them living inside your head and they are with you all the time. It's almost scary sometimes.
Does spirituality contribute to your creativity?
It does and it appears in my books when I speak of higher beings and unexplained things.
It is possible to fall in love with a bad idea simply because it is yours. How do you avoid this?
It can, but it does not happen to me very often. Most of the time I can spot a bad idea and trash it no matter whose it is. Most of the time I may not know something is a bad idea till I ask. If it's a bad idea, trash it and don't accept it just because it's yours. A bad idea is a bad idea, period.
Do you work well under pressure?
Not really. It shorts out my creativity and/or limits it severely when I have to limit my thinking time.
What city in the world currently attracts you due to its creative environment?
No city does. I don't really care for cities, but a wilderness is another matter entirely. If I had to pick a city I guess it would be Cairo.
What is your specialty in illustration?
Drawing sketches of my characters for my own books. I also design skeletal designs of how an illustration should look and where it should go in a book
Have you completed formal art studies, or are you self-taught?
I was self taught with some help from grade school art classes.
How similar are your current drawings to those you did as a child?
My present drawings are much more detailed and realistic than my childhood drawings. No stick figures now.
Do you have a particular style, or does it vary a lot?
My character sketches have a cartoon like style which I don't want in my books. I have to have help in making the characters more realistic and 3D.
What is hardest to draw?
3D scenes with lifelike looking characters. Also drawing characters at certain profiles within a scene is quite hard.
What part of your work do you do on paper and what part digitally?
I do everything on paper. I learned to draw from a time when digital art didn't exist. Pencils, erasers, colored pencils, and crayons are more user friendly for me.
What did you first read? How did you begin to write? Who were the first to read what you wrote?
I first read Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys mysteries, Redwall stories, Shannara books, and tons of other books. I began writing small things since I was in middle school. I decided to experiment with myself to see if I could write a book at age 16. I wrote my first book and a saga was born. My parents and grand parents were the first people how read my writing and they began to tell others about it.
What is your favorite genre? Can you provide a link to a site where we can read some of your work or learn something about it?
My favorite genre is fantasy, but I like several others as well so they are mixed into my work. The book website for my novel is at www.neikos5landadventure.net. People can also go to Goodreads, Librarything, and Shelfari.
What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?
I can brainstorm at any time, anywhere. I can be doing an activity like fishing and also be thinking about what I want to write next. I am always thinking about something. I keep a notebook about ideas I can't get to yet so I don't forget. I can keep things stored in my brain for long periods of time as well. I have everything well thought out before I sit to write.
What type of reading inspires you to write?
Just about anything inspires me to write. Not just reading inspires me; I can see something and an idea can form, or something can spring from an idea itself.
What do you think are the basic ingredients of a story?
I like a good interesting setting, interesting and well developed characters, and a good plot. The main ingredients for me are adventure and a lot of action. All of this stuff has to have a point and a direction of movement. A lot of action without a point doesn't cut it either. I totally hate when all the action is at the end or at the center of the story when the rest is slow or boring.
What voice do you find most to your liking: first person or third person?
I like writing in third person. Third person lets you see what everybody is thinking and doing. You can also have side plots or scene changes away from the protagonist to see what the antagonist could be cooking up for the protagonist. You have a perspective without bounds. First person seems to put limitations on perspective since it is all based on what the main character is thinking and feeling and what they see. I don't like to read many books written in first person, so I don't write that way either.
What well known writers do you admire most?
I like Carolyn Keene, Brian Jacques, Dixon, Joan Lowery Nixon, Terry Brooks, and some others.
What is required for a character to be believable? How do you create yours?
A character is more believable when they have a well rounded personality. The more detail in action the better besides a detail description of what they look like. Make a character do what others say or think about them. Make them have a pet peeve. Let the reader know what the other characters think about them. Let characters do thing to each other to annoy or crack up another. Basically, it would almost be like describing a person to another person in great detail.
Are you equally good at telling stories orally?
I am. Before I started writing I used to act out the fantasy world in play when I was very little. I got chances to act out and create stories with others. I can also read my stories to others. I would read my stories to my younger sister till she learned how to read.
Deep down inside, who do you write for?
I have always written for me since the beginning. I needed a way to escape the world to return to my fantasy world. It was not until others started seeing my work and commenting on it that I decided to share it with others.
Is writing a form of personal therapy? Are internal conflicts a creative force?
Yes, writing has always been a personal therapy. For a time that is all I had in high school. I had friends, but they did not like me enough to interact with me on a very individual level. I was rarely invited over to hang out or spend the night. I had to think of something to occupy my time besides homework. Those conflicts are what began the whole thing, but now I do it since I love it and it is automatic.
Does reader feed-back help you?
Reader feedback does help me know whether or not sharing is worthwhile. If no one liked my stories and thought they suck then there would be no reason to continue sharing. It also lets me see how my work impacts them. Through reader feedback I have been able to learn about powers my work has that I had never known was there.
Do you participate in competitions? Have you received any awards?
I don't participate in competitions. I mostly kept my work private. If I don't win then, it damages my self esteem, and I feel like my writing is second rate, not good enough, or other negative things. I pretty much avoid them and that is due to my personal struggles as a person. I haven't received any awards yet; my author career has only begun.
Do you share rough drafts of your writings with someone whose opinion you trust?
I share with some family sometimes, but I fly solo most of the time since I was/am alone most of the time. Most of the time people sneaked a peek when I wasn't looking.
Do you believe you have already found "your voice" or is that something one is always searching for?
I had discovered my voice long ago, basically when I started out. There are some things I pretty much found on my own without any help or guidance, and this is one of them.
What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.?
I am a very structured person so I try my best to have an itinerary or a rough schedule of what I want to do that day or whenever. I am not a fan of spontaneity. I try to have a goal set at a reasonable time, but some of my goals are hard to determine a set date for as it depends on several outside factors.
What do you surround yourself with in your work area in order to help your concentrate?
My work area can move from place to place since it is portable. I am on-the-go a lot and sometimes I can be in a remote area. The main thing I must have is quiet. My quiet time ends when my husband comes home and flips on the dreaded boob-tube and he also wants my undivided attention.
Do you write on a computer? Do you print frequently? Do you correct on paper? What is your process?
I write my stuff on the computer, but I save notes and jots in a notebook. I don't print anything off since my computer is not anchored down and when I began writing we didn't have a printer. Most of the time I can have everything I want in my head when I sit at the keyboard. That is the way I have done it since age 16, and it still works for me.
What sites do you frequent on-line to share experiences or information?
I mostly go on Facebook, Twitter, my blog, or Goodreads to share information with people I have met. I sometimes get on Librarything and Shelfari.
What has been your experience with publishers?
I have had both good and bad experiences with publishers. My first publishing experience with Xlibris was a terrible experience. My experience with Mill City Press has been a wonderful experience and a complete one-eighty from my experience with Xlibris. I am presently with Mill City Press, and I'll be with them a long time. My experience with the big publishing houses when I was 21 years old was disappointing as I was turned away despite that I had learned from experts at a writer's conference that I had great work.
What are you working on now?
I am presently working on the 4th book of my saga and the 13th. These books are like number fourteen and fifteen of my career books since age 16. I have a small ebook called "Self Promoting and Survival Tips for Newbie Authors" in editing that should be released later this year. I am also working to get my second book "Escape from Ancient Egypt" out of Xlibris and into Mill City Press. I am also working on articles for Go Publish Yourself.com which is a webiste owned by my publisher and by author and businessman Mark Levine. This is all due to a project that the two of us came together to work on. It is a rare opportunity that came my way and I didn't hesitate to jump on it and put my best foot forward.
What do you recommend I do with all those things I wrote years ago but have never been able to bring myself to show anyone?
You have to show someone you know if you want to do something with it. If you don't, keep it hidden. I didn't think about publishing my work until I had heard that it was good enough to publish by family, friends, and complete strangers. I had meager expectations and I still do. I would do the same and not think too highly until someone else gives good feedback. I hear about too many horror stories about someone who thinks their work is great, but an expert doesn't think so.
What do you investigate? What is at the heart of your research?
I investigate just about everything. I have interests in many fields. I am mainly into apiology and herpetology as far as my main area of research.
What is your educational background? What work experience did you have before this?
I have a bachelor's degree in biology, but I experimented with astronomy, physics, chemistry, and geology in my high school and college careers. I have work experience in a chemistry and analytical lab.
Did you keep your nose to the grindstone in school?
Yes. I made sure every homework assignment was done and that I understood everything to the best of my ability. My parents never had to say "do you homework".
What types of experiments do you conduct? How are the conclusions documented?
My father and I do trial and error experiments in our beekeeping hobby. We can find a method in a beekeeping book and we try it to see if it works for us. Conclusions are documented by the addition or subtraction of the step or process by our methods. Simply speaking, if it doesn't work, throw it out.
What is a "eureka" moment? What is it like to experience one?
A eureka moment is when you have learned the answer to something or figured out a way to achieve the goal. It is a joy that something is completed. It is like when someone reaches their goal of loosing fifty pounds; the goal is met and the process that constructed to achieve that goal was successful.
What is your personal position on the use of animals in scientific investigation?
If animals themselves are needed to understand their behavior, life cycle, diseases, etc, that's fine, but please do not inoculate an animal with a toxic substance that we know is toxic just to see what happens to it.
AMANDA K TAYLOR
White Plains USA