Rebecca was lucky enough to interview writer and ace beta reader, Cheryl Runyan:
Do you consider yourself to be a writer, Cheryl? What, if anything, do you think makes someone a ‘writer’ as opposed to just someone who writes?
Yes, I do consider myself a writer. The difference between a writer and someone who writes is a very wavery and interesting line. A writer is someone who has to write, while someone who writes does it as an entertaining hobby.
What are you working on at the moment? Could you tell us a little bit about it?
I currently have a novel in the works – one I am co-writing with some very talented authors – and a few short stories. I write a fair amount of fanfiction because a) it amuses me, b) it interests me to take someone else’s creation and give a fresh perspective and c) it helps hone my own writing.
Can you tell us a little bit about a ‘normal’ writing session? Do you have any habits or quirks when you write?
I also have a novel on the back-burner. I’m letting it brew for a while until have a clearer idea of how it needs to unfold. The novel I’m working on now begins during WW2. It follows a pair of star-crossed lovers to their deaths and then picks up again in present day with at least one of the lovers reincarnating and searching for the missing soulmate. It’s a fictional exploration of my own beliefs in the theories of soulmates and reincarnation.
A normal session for me? M’dear, there is absolutely nothing normal about me in the least! I suppose one might say my ‘normal’ writing session involves me settling at the computer with some writing music pouring out the speakers (depends on the scene I’m working on… for my fanfic, I tend to pull up retro as the TV series is set in the 80s) Habits and quirks? I find it easier to write on the computer with the ‘net active because I can research a question at the drop of a hat. used to find it easier to write with paper & pencil, but now it’s quicker to type because my fingers keep up with my flowing thoughts. Another quirk is that I am constantly editing as I write. If I don’t like the way something feels, sounds, etc., I change it immediately rather than waiting to do it later. The only time this changes is when I free-write… which can produce some interesting results that frequently surprise me!
Are there any other writers who you really admire? What was the last thing you read and would you recommend it?
There are several writers I admire, and I frequently do recommend them. Some of the amateur authors I have found on fanfiction.net are absolutely incredible and I honestly do not understand why they are not published. As for what I’m reading now, I’m currently enjoying re-reading Julia Quinn. She has a set of books placed in 1800s London, focused on the ton, which soothe my inner romantic. The novels are written about a family known as Bridgerton (and their friends) with a charming ‘mystery’ character found in almost every book by the name of ‘Lady Whistledown’. For anyone who enjoys Regency romance, it’s a heartwarming romp through an interesting era. Ms Quinn is historically accurate w/o being pedantic, which i also enjoy.
I’m also mid-way through a fantasy series written by Michelle West. Her rich storytelling is a joy to explore.
Finally, do you have any hints and tips for other aspiring writers?
My best tip is to find a topic you love and know well and let the words flow from your fingers. Then, let it settle for a week or so and go back and start picking at it. Another is this: remember all those irritating grammar lessons from back in the day? Yep, those ones…. get your hands on some grammar books and do them again – and never ever depend on ‘spell check’. Writing fanfic is a great way to establish your personal style while conforming to the character guidelines someone else has already created. Take your favorite TV show and write a tale that fits into its parameters. It’s far more challenging than you realize, particularly if you restrict yourself to established canon rather than creating your own ‘coulda/shoulda/woulda’ storyline.
You can read some of Cheryl’s work at http://www.fanfiction.net/~merisalope