My Writing Process Blog Tour

Jessica and Tania at Seattle AWP 2014
Jessica and Tania at Seattle AWP 2014

My good friend and co-collaborator over at Mother, Writer, Mentor, Tania Pryputniewicz, invited me to join this blog tour.

I first met Tania over a decade ago when she submitted an essay for the book I was then editing, Labor Pains and Birth Stories: Essays on Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Becoming a Parent. (She also, by the way, created the cover art for that book.)  We went on to collaborate as editors and bloggers and teachers at The Fertile Source (now in hiatus) and Mother, Writer, Mentor (going strong!). I’ve been grateful for the presence of light and peace Tania’s been in my life, especially as I became a mother during the course of our friendship and have had to learn to balance writing and motherhood.

 What am I working on? 

Like always, I have several projects in various stages. Two weeks ago, I finished final edits & copyedits for my picture book coming out next week, Colors of the Wind: The Story of Blind Artist and Champion Runner George Mendoza. Currently, I’m finishing up the first book for what I hope will be a series.  I don’t want to give away any spoilers but let’s just say it’s y.a., very funny despite the fact that it does deal with death, it’s fantasy, the protagonist goes to boarding school in some very cool (and unexpected) places around the world, and I hope it will knock your socks off.

I’m writing this series with my brother Matt, which has been a fun process. We SKYPE almost every day (I’m seeing his daughters grow up, literally, via video phone calls). We go back and forth. He writes a scene, I’ll revise, he’ll revise, I’ll revise. Or vice versa. By the time we’re finished, it’s impossible to tell where he left off and I began or where I left off and he began.

I’m also in the initial thought processes of writing a sequel to This Thing Called the Future, my award-winning novel that came out in 2011, which is set in South Africa at the height of the HIV-AIDS epidemic.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?  

I write layered, complex novels for young adults that delve deep into the psychological and cultural realities of my protagonists. The settings of my books, and the protagonists of my books, are almost always existing on the margins of their societies in some way. I don’t write for the center, I write for the fringe. That said, I hope my books invite people to understand and explore the fringe, to welcome it, to learn to embrace it—as I have.

Why do I write what I do? 

I write for teens because I love the genre. Other than mystery-thrillers, there is no other genre I love more than young adult novels. I think writing for teens is exciting. You have to strip the novel to the bare bones. The work has to be paced perfectly, to move fast, to hurtle through life the way real teens do.

I also write what I do because I have many questions about life, the universe, God, death, the human condition, what it means to love and be loved. Those questions are central to the novels I write.

How does my writing process work?

I am the type of writer who revises continuously as I write. I’ll write a chapter and then I have to revise it before I can move on to the next chapter. Each day often involves revising BEFORE I move on to create new work.

Of course, my writing process recently has been extremely different as I’m collaborating very closely with my brother on a book series. That has been such a wonderful experience, I hope it never ends! I hope I’ve dragged him into this writing life forever.

Next week, you can check out Emily Jiang’s blog for the next segment of My Writing Process blog tour.

Emily Jiang, author
Emily Jiang, author

Emily Jiang is the author of Summoning the Phoenix: Poems & Prose about Chinese Musical Instruments, illustrated by April Chu and published by Shen’s Books, an imprint of Lee & Low Books.  Emily holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Saint Mary’s College of California and a BA in English from Rice University.  She is also a graduate of the Clarion Writers’ Workshop, the Chautauqua Writers’ Conference, the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference, and the VONA/Voices of Our Nation Workshop.  In other words, she is an over-educated writer.  Her fiction has won several awards, including Top Prose Prize in The Binnacle’s Ultra Short Competition, First Place in the Tom Howard/John Reid Short Story Contest, and the Sue Alexander Award for Most Promising New Manuscript from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.  Her writing has been published in Apex Magazine, Stone Telling, Strange Horizons, Goblin Fruit, Interfictions, and The Moment of Change anthology of feminist speculative poetry.  She wrestles with words everyday.  Sometimes she wins.  Other times, it’s a draw.

You can find Emily’s response to the writing process questions at her website next Monday, April 21.

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