Recently, I posted a Call to Writers, asking my fellow author bloggers to allow me to interview them for guest-spots on my blog. (If you are interested in participating, please contact me.) I asked everyone thirty-five questions — some were basic, and others were multi-part inquiries — and I asked them to answer only what they wanted to or what was applicable. My friend and fellow-blogger, Ayanah Ravid, had some very charming responses which I’m sure will enchant you, as well. (Especially when you learn she’s only 17! I can definitely see a writing career in her future!) After you read her interview, please be sure to hop on over to her blog and follow her for a dose of her charisma and jocularity. And now, I turn the microphone over to Ayanah…
1. Please tell us your name (or pen name) and a little bit about yourself:
My name is Ayanah Ravid. I’ve been a writer since about the age of six when I first received a notebook for me birthday, along with a pink pen with feathers on it. I love singing and writing about everything and nothing. I write me own songs, but the main things I write are novels and short stories. Some of me works have been published into the school literary magazine and received much recognition. I was born in Israel in 1997 and moved to the United States when I was 14, to live with my dad and his family. My most important goal in life is to become a published writer of a best-seller, live in Ireland, and become a singer.
2. Please provide the link to your blog (and website, Facebook fan page, Twitter, etc.):
3 .How many books have you written?
I am currently writing me first real novel to publish, though I have written a short collection of about 15 different bedtime stories for me brother about 6 years ago and printed it, designed it, and edited it to look like a real book with a handmade cover.
4. Has any of your work been published yet? If so, please share the link(s) to purchase it:
I would be happy to share the link to purchase it, however none of my works have been published professionally quite yet. I would be more than happy to send you the files, if you wish, but my only request is to be credited properly for them.
5. If you have been published, did you self-publish or use traditional publishing? Why? If you have not been published yet, what are your plans for the future?
I plan on moving to Ireland at the end of me last year in secondary school here in America, attend university there, get recorded by some production companies, and publish my books and stories. I want to inspire people the most, however.
6. How old were you when you started writing? When did you know you wanted to be an author?
I was about 6 years old, writing about fairies and goblins and witches from faraway lands. I began telling me stories out loud to people, mostly me family, and I loved their tentative attention to me. With the years, I read more books and fancied the idea of entertaining more people from outside of me family circle. With that in mind, at about 7 or 8 years old, I allowed me nan to print off stories I would tell her aloud and send them to her friends, who would generally praise me and say I have a bright future as a writer. That was about the point where I knew I wanted to become an author.
7. What would you say motivates you to keep writing?
I receive motivation from music mainly, but I find myself many times drift off to a nice run outside, breathing in the weather (rain and snow are my absolute favourites), and being inspired by that. Other times, I imagine an alternative lifestyle or characters. I watch a lot of films, which motivate me greatly to write about the filmed topic. For example, after watching The Book Thief, The Pianist, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, Anne Frank’s Diaries, and many more… I knew I wanted to write a novel, fiction and a biography, about the Holocaust. With much inspiration from me Baba, I am in the process of obtaining permission for publishing about her life in Krakow, as well as me Papa. You could say that I get motivation from everything and anything with a purpose behind it.
8. Who are some of your favorite authors? What are you currently reading (or what is the last book you read)?
I am a huge fan of horror, so I must go with the very well-known Stephen King; however, I do enjoy Emily and Charlotte Bronte’s works, such as Jane Eyre. I am currently reading Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt.
9. What is your preferred reading method? (i.e., Kindle, Nook, paperback, hardback, etc.) Why?
I love the feeling of paper on my fingers. I love the noise a paper makes when you turn it over. I love the anticipation of finding out the words on the next page, rather than on the next click of a button. Most of all, I love the aroma of an old book as you flip through the yellowing pages.
10. Do you write in first or third person, past or present tense, and why?
Many times I would write in first person, past tense, because I love feeling and being the character. I want to know exactly how someone feels without being told by someone else. I want to read the actions as they just now happened in my head. I never write in present tense, because present is a part of the future. It happens right now and you can still change it, whereas if you’ve already read it, you can’t take it all back. The past is much more constructive then the vague future to me.
11. Do you “always read” or do you take breaks between reading books?
I like to think that I always read, even though I know it’s false. When I am not holding some sort of a book, I feel empty and naked, as cliché as it may sound… that’s why I go for the longer books, rather than the ultimate page-turners you could finish within a day of reading.
12. How many books would you say you read in a year? How many at any one time?
I absolutely hate reading more than one book at a time, even if it is for school. I want to focus on one thing and one thing only. With that being said, I read between 10 to 15 books per year. Again, choosing the longer ones to quench my thirst for reading.
ABOUT YOUR CURRENT BOOK::
13. What is the title of your current work in progress of the most recent manuscript you’ve completed?
Titles are the one thing I never choose, unless I’m absolutely sure of the title, until the very last word was written permanently. Therefore, I am very sorry to disappoint you with the lack of an answer here.
14. What is your novel’s genre? Would you say there is a sub-genre? What makes yours different than other books in the same genre?
The novel I am currently writing (not the Holocaust one), is a mystery, thriller, romance, and history. Altogether, I would say the main genre would be mystery and history as a sub-genre.
The Holocaust one would have to be realistic fiction and history, without sub-genres.
15. What inspired the current or most recent story you’ve completed?
I’ve always been intrigued by historical, especially Medieval history in today’s United Kingdom, and actually read a very good book who’s title I’ve forgotten; it was set in Wales, occasionally shifting between flashes of the Welsh prince Llewelyn and modern life of Christyn.
16. What is your target audience’s age, gender, etc.?
I write mainly to the interested eyes of me own age group, however I find more teachers and professors wanting to read my works, than the targeted audience. Therefore, I would say I write for the age-line of young adults and up.
17. Do you want to tell us a little bit about your story?
Without revealing many details, of course! It is set in the 19th century Ireland, just along the southern coast. Kamryn Laurynn McGarth was born in Wales along with her younger sister Elaine, only Kamryn remembers nothing from the time before turning 6. She has lived her entire 18 years of living, feeling Irish and knowing she was Welsh. Her mother had died 4 years before the story begins, but the death is a mystery. Even since his beloved wife had passed, Kamryn’s father turned to the alcohol he swore to never touch again. She has been abused for the past 4 years of her life, with no one to talk to but her “life-long” best mate, Ædan. Her entire world suddenly unfolds on itself when a Welsh family moves mysteriously to the small town of southern Ireland, claiming to have more knowledge of Kamryn’s life than her. – This is as far as I am willing to spill out! 😉
ABOUT HOW YOU WRITE::
18. How often do you write?
If not my novel, than I try to update me blog at least once a week, depending on how much time I have on me hands.
19. Approximately how many words do you write at each sitting?
From 2,500 to about 15,000. It depends greatly on what I have to write about and where it is published, if at all.
20. Do you do your own editing or send it to someone else?
I have asked my literature teacher from last year to look over my works for grammar and spelling, but she brought it back to me saying it was flawless. I occasionally bring her my works with a request for her honest opinion, receiving not only that, but also an ego boost and a massive motivation to keep writing.
21. What is your method of writing? (i.e., Do you write the entire manuscript, then go back and make changes? Do you plan chapters as you go along or write the story then go back and add chapters? Do you re-read as you go along or after you are done with the first draft?)
I would hate to think of a specific method of writing. I do, however, keep a mini-envelop where I would scribble an inspirational word, scene, sentence, or even a sketch of something that may later serve me in a writing. This is something I highly recommend to any writer – aspiring or published.
22. Do you have a muse? If so, please elaborate. If not, what inspires you?
A muse… if you mean someone to make you keep going and motivates you without even talking, then yes. My muse is my nan and my papa. They both inspire me with everything I do or write. Recently, I have found an inspiration from a teacher at the school I attend. From one simple lecture she gave, she has inspired 14 pages to my fictional Holocaust novel.
23. How long does it take you to write a full manuscript?
It depends on the idea and prompt. I would say between a few hours to a week, if I’m really stumped.
24. Do you give yourself a word limit for each day or a time limit to finish your novel? If so, please elaborate.
If anything, I give myself a MINIMUM time limit. Within that time range, I must write non-stop unless me hand is absolutely throbbing in pain. The word limit I put is 2500 for each prompt or chapter and it must consist of at least one paragraph of narration.
25. How do you come up with your character names and geographic location / business names?
Meaning, meaning, meaning. I look up names, usually by a randomised generator of letters (A,B,C,D…). Once I have at least 2 letters (first and surname), I commence with the character’s heritage and background, then to the time period. If the character is Welsh in the 1700s, then I would search a popular Welsh name from that time period, or change a spelling of another name from that same era to match the Welsh language. The name of the character must roll freely on my tongue when said aloud and have the character’s appearance simply show up without even description. The same for geographical names. I do not write a non-sci-fi novel without searching thoroughly about every aspect of the setting. I also many a time speak in the accent and write a completely vernacular dialogue for referencing later.
26. How long (or how detailed) are the notes you take before you start writing?
As long as I need them to be, containing all important details and frames. Every single bit of information I will use or will help me understand the mindset of the setting.
27. Do you have any “must haves” to help you write? (i.e., a full cup of coffee, a view of the ocean, etc.)
Music and tea. Definitely tea, but the music is a little more picky… I must have (if lyrics are sung), songs I connect to. I must have calm and classical music otherwise. I have a playlist for writing, which enables me to focus on the notebook or computer entirely without switching a song I have no mood to listen to at the moment.
28. Do you only write during a certain time of day or in a certain location? If so, do you make yourself stop after a certain time?
I try to stop before 23:00, but if I have a sudden inspiration to write, I write. I can write everywhere and anywhere with peace. By peace, it could be anything I can close my eyes and imagine silence, when it isn’t really quiet. Living with 3 younger brothers, you learn how to tune sounds out.
29. Does your real life ever neglected because of your writing? If so, how do you feel about that?
If anything, I feel like my life is overtaken by writing. I find myself giving peptalks to myself, saying things like “how would Kamryn feel is she was here? That’s not what she would do!” It helps most of the times before tests and important events.
30.What is the quirkiest thing you do or have ever done when writing?
I love reading what I wrote in the voice of the character. I always proof-read in the accent of the character (most characters just have a variation of my accent, since it’s a weird combination of Welsh, Irish, Scottish, and English). I also used to grab me dolls and roll play the scene, but sadly… I don’t do that anymore. I should, though. I had a crack with that. (by “crack” I mean “fun”)…
ABOUT YOUR WORK::
31. If you have written more than one novel, which is your favorite and why?
I don’t think I have a favourite, but I most definitely have a deeper connection to the Holocaust one, since both of me grandparents on my Dad’s side have been in the ghettos and are survivors. The Irish one, however, is my most thought of. It takes a lot of detailed thinking and noticing to develop the story, so I spend much more time thinking like Kamryn rather than thinking like Lidia (the girl from the Holocaust novel).
32. If you could be one of your own characters for a day, who would it be and why?
I would be Kamryn, because I created her to be the perfect “me”. She’s everything I’ve ever wished to be, without her childhood, of course… if I could be her for the day, I would. Since her time frame is in the 1800s, she is centred by horses and meadows of green and flowers. I love horses and my dream was to ride a horse, my horse, in the open meadow without any limiting fences or ropes. I rode horses since I was in year 3, or second grade.
33. If one of your books became a movie, who would you choose for the “perfect cast” of main characters?
Let’s focus on the Irish novel for this one…
Kamryn – Naseen Morgan (you’d have to look her up, because I have no idea what films she’s ever been in. If it helps, she looks exactly like the character she would theoretically be playing).
Elaine (Kamryn’s sister) – Anabel Sweeney (you’d have to watch Dark Touch, which is an Irish horror film, to know her. You could search her name, though).
Angus McGarth (Kamryn’s father) – Liam Neeson (Schindler’s List).
Gwyneth McGarth (Kamryn’s mother) – Olga Wehrly (again, same Irish horror film).
Ædan – Liam Hemsworth, because he has the exact looks and acting type for the role, although he would need a THICK Irish accent for the role.
Of course, there are many other characters, but if I did grab your attention on the novel, I don’t want to introduce any other ones… 😉
34. What is the oddest thing you have ever researched for one of your books?
The oddest… well… this is definitely a tricky one, since I search for everything. But to make it easier on you… I searched from torture devices from the time period, to clothes (pants, which are underwear in America), to accents, to blood types that are most common in Ireland (for no reason at all…), to myths about the places, to things as creepy and eerie to one’s mind as “mysterious and unexplained deaths or plagues” or something like that… anything that can help me into the mindset!
35. What is the most difficult thing you have ever researched for one your books and why?
Difficult? If you mean the most intricate and detailed, then it would most likely be the language. I get into the story in such way that I must know everything, including the language. So I am studying Gaelic, a dying language, and Latin, a fully dead language. I am studying them on me own so that I could perfect the novel. This is the most complicated search I am doing.
Thank you, Ayanah, for allowing me to interview you. I hope everyone else has enjoyed learning about you and all your projects as much as I have.