The amazing Kristin Tubb agreed to answer some questions from me and one from my kiddos. Check out my review of her Selling Hope or just go read it or her The 13th Sign and tell me what you think.
WE: Would you consider yourself a reader first or a writer?
KT: Oh, definitely a reader! Writers need stories like they need food: for fuel. Ideas and turns-of-phrase and lovely lines of poetry are like steak and roasted Brussels sprouts and cupcakes. Only when you intake stories are you able to output stories.
WE: Selling Hope has a lot of inside information on how magic tricks are performed. Was that just research, or are you a magician (or magician's assistant) yourself?
KT: Ah, the beauty of research! I’m not a magician or a magician’s assistant – I’m far too clumsy! Research is one of my favorite aspects of writing (see more below), and I learned the secrets behind many tricks by watching hours of YouTube videos (which is also where I found many of Buster Keaton’s old acts). When I teach workshops, I like to tell young writers that writing is a lot like magic: as long as you know the secrets behind the tricks, you’re able to entertain with those tricks. I hope, in some regard, that makes me a magician as well!
WE: What is the hardest part about writing? What is your favorite part about writing?
KT: My two favorite parts of writing: research and the first draft. To me, those two things go hand-in-hand. Research often sparks plot ideas for me, so when I’m writing historical fiction, I outline and roughly draft while researching. It’s like a large, colorful jigsaw puzzle: challenging but fun, figuring out where all the pieces fit. For me, the hardest part of writing is revising. All writers are revisers. Stories must be trimmed to their bare essence, streamlined so they can propel into the reader’s mind like a rocket. I often have trouble seeing which parts aren’t essential. Luckily, I work with a fantastic group of critique partners who help me identify what’s not working. And I’ve been blessed to work with outstanding editors who can easily spot what needs a boost, but who give me plenty of room to figure out how to improve those spots.
WE: If you could give high schoolers any advice about writing (academic or creative), what would it be?
KT: This may sound cliché, but read. Read, read, read, then read some more. When I was in sixth grade, I had the opportunity to interview my favorite author by telephone: Madeleine L’Engle (I know, right?!). I told her I wanted to be a writer, and she replied, “Good for you! Keep reading and you can do it.” When writers read, they absorb stories like sponges. Story structure and excellent characterization and word play: it all sinks in when you are a voracious reader.
WE: What is one book you've read recently that you think is under-appreciated?
KT: Sailing to Freedom by Martha Bennett Stiles - A boy, his monkey, a sailing adventure: what’s not to love? I also adore Sharon Cameron’s The Dark Unwinding - An air of mystery at the musty old estate of a madman – it’s delicious.
WE kids: What's it like being the kids of an author?
KT kiddo 1“I get to give my mom story ideas, and I meet lots of writers. And I have a lot of signed books.”
KT kiddo 2: “I have a lot of books.”