Getting to Know You: The Process of Self-Discovery

When I wander the shelves of a bookstore or library, I’m always amazed at the sheer variety of titles. What is it that drives an author to choose fiction or nonfiction, self-help or sci-fi, picture books or historical romance? I’m fascinated by the many factors that influence what we choose to write about and which goals we set for ourselves.

Over the years you’ve probably read dozens of author interviews. Some of us have even interviewed our own characters to get to know them better. But how often do you examine your personal motivations, passions, and strengths? This can be an incredibly useful process, especially if you’re struggling with writer’s block or questioning for the hundredth time why you’re writing in the first place.

When I explore why I feel compelled to write scary middle grade stories, I realize it’s not much of a mystery. The simple answer is that my most memorable and impactful reading experiences occurred between the ages of 10 and 13. I’ve also had an interest in the paranormal for as long as I can remember.

So I dig a little deeper and recognize that I prefer happy endings. I’m not exactly a gritty or edgy person; more like a sentimental fluffball who likes to watch YouTube videos of baby animals. I can trace my interest in natural disasters to a report I did in the fifth grade. And my aversion to bleak or depressing stories likely has something to do with the fact that we had to read so many of them for high school English.

For those of you who watch TV, your DVR list can be quite the window into your soul. I wish I could say with a straight face that I watch only the BBC news and documentaries about global warming. But in the interest of keeping it real, the five shows I record every week are Supernatural, Brooklyn 99, The Middle, Flea Market Flip, and Project Runway. 

While it might seem like a strange combination of genres, to me it makes perfect sense. Each show appeals to a different side of my personality: the creepy side, the goofy side, the frazzled mom, and the vintage enthusiast. (I have no good explanation for Project Runway, so I’ll file it under mindless entertainment.)

Because this is a public space I’ve kept things relatively light in tone, but as you “interview” yourself you can go as in-depth as you wish. There are certainly painful life experiences that have influenced what I do or do not write about. Some are topics I feel I’m ready to tackle; others are tucked away close to my heart, filed under the category of “maybe someday, but maybe not.” Age and experience will undoubtedly shape my writing goals as they evolve.

So what inspires you? Why do you write what you write? We all have truths about ourselves that are yet to be discovered, truths that can elevate and illuminate our writing if only we are willing to seek them out.

_______________________________

Growing up, Christine Hayes loved reading stories about creatures that curl your toes and legends that send a shiver down your spine. Now she loves writing about them, too. Her debut novel, MOTHMAN’S CURSE, was released in June 2015 through Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan. Christine seeks inspiration by haunting flea markets and estate sales, searching for cool vintage finds with a story to tell. While earning her degree in music she visited Asia for the first time, and later moved there with her family for several years. She has been addicted to travel ever since. Christine and her clan now live in northern Utah. Find her online at www.christinehayesbooks.com.

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