If, like me, your childhood reading habits were partially shaped by Little House on the Prairie, you’ll find a kindred spirit in Todd Foley. Plus, he mentions Anne Lamott, so well, you know how I feel about her.
1. Tell me about your latest project.
I just released my debut indie novel, Eastbound Sailing. This has been a two-year labor of love, hate, fear and triumph. I’m in the midst of promoting the book and planning a couple readings and signings at local bookstores.
2. What role, if any, did books, writing, and reading play in your childhood?
I was homeschooled for most of my elementary years, and my mom would often start our days by reading the Little House on the Prairie series. My one year in public elementary school, my teacher introduced me to books by Roald Dahl and Chris Van Allsburg. These authors helped me realize my hunger for stories and cultivate my imagination.
3. What is your writing practice, your writing routine?
I’m a full-time editor at a national organization, so my days are filled with words. When I write my articles, I pitch an idea, narrow down the specifics, coordinate interviews, come up with a rough outline and fill in the gaps with my sources and research. Then I chisel away the filler until I come up with the final product. As for my personal writing, I force myself to unplug from all sources of communication and go for a walk every day. This gets me alone with my thoughts. Sometimes I end up with an idea; other times I don’t. Either way, isolation is crucial to my creative process.
4. Who are you reading now?
Lord of the Flies by William Golding and Characters & Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card. I enjoy alternating between fiction and non-fiction.
5. What are three of your all-time favorite books? Why do you love those?
East of Eden by John Steinbeck. This book inspired me to write my first novel, as I was blown away by how Steinbeck was able to use such a beautifully ugly narrative to retell the book of Genesis.
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. Whatever creativity was inspired by East of Eden likely would have stayed in my head without the practical guidance of this book.
Jumangi by Chris Van Allsburg. My third-grade teacher read this story to our class. 17 years later, I still remember how impacted I was by the beautiful illustrations and the compelling story.
6. How do you balance “building a writing platform” and the actual writing to set on that platform?
This is my current challenge as an indie author. I spend most of my time building my platform through strategy and networking, but I have to discipline myself to writing an entry at least once a week. I’m not always inspired, but it helps me stay accountable to the platform I’m trying to build.
7. What is a typical day like for you?
I try to start my morning by reading a chapter in the book of Psalms, which is followed by skimming a number of online news sites [MSN, CNN, the New York TImes, BBC, the Vancouver Sun, Rolling Stone and TMZ. How’s that for variety?]. I enjoy knowing what’s going on the world before heading to work.
8. Describe your dream writing space?
Either in a high-traffic coffee shop in the city or sitting near a cliff overlooking the ocean. I know it’s a bit of a contradiction, but I’m inspired by both city life and nature. Wherever I am, I need to be away from people I know; otherwise I’ll feel like I need to visit.
9. What is the hardest writing critique you ever received? How did you respond?
During my internship with a major daily paper, I was told a particular piece didn’t have any “life” in it. I took this as a wake-up call, because I often focus on telling the facts that I neglect the actual story. This is my daily battle as a writer.
10. What is the best wisdom you have to share with other writers?
Be confident and stay humble. We all have a lot to say, but we all have a lot to learn.