Chatting with Joyce

Some questions you might want to ask me if we could sit down and chat.  

What influences shaped you as a writer?  

  1. Reading, playing games, and just living! Reading develops a subconscious understanding of the rhythm and pacing of story. Imaginative play also influences writing. And, of course, life experience. Situations from my childhood, from my children’s childhoods, and people--friends and  relatives, beloved and otherwise--appear in my books.  

How do you get ideas for your novels?  

  1. That leads to another question – what is an idea?  The American Heritage Dictionary lists several meanings.  My favorite is “A notion; a fancy.”

  2. Katherine Paterson in The Invisible Child, writes “ . . . in Japanese, the word [idea] is i, which is made up of two characters—the character for sound  and the character for heart—so an idea is something that makes a sound in the heart (the heart in Japanese, as in Hebrew, being the seat of intelligence as well as the seat of feeling).”

  3. When I read that, I said, “I love it!” Ideas that are developed into books, which takes lots of time, must come from the heart, and we must listen for our ideas.  They often come when least expected, such as during a walk, while meditating, or in a dream.  

Why do you write for children?  

  1. I think it’s because I enjoyed reading so much as a child. Books topped my Christmas wish list. Recently, a friend gave me an old Nancy Drew book (copyright 1930), a faded blue hardcover with a textured finish. Its old book odor and the feel of its rough finish brought back memories of unwrapping a new book and diving into Nancy’s latest mystery.  

How important is a regular writing schedule to you?

  1. Very. Ideas are abundant but more important is the day to day commitment of sitting at the computer and developing the idea into a story.  But I must admit – it’s difficult to keep to a regular schedule!

How many drafts do you typically write?

  1. Many. As I work, I constantly rewrite, my work evolving and changing as I get to know my characters.  By the time I have a “first” draft I’ve revised it several times.  Once I have that “first” draft, there are at least four or five more. It seems there’s never a “final” draft, but the time comes to send the manuscript out. Then the editor wants changes!

What advice can you share with aspiring novelists?

  1. Only write if you truly enjoy the process.  Know that writing is mainly rewriting. And join the SCBWI!

Children’s Author
Artwork © Herb Leonhard

© Joyce A. Stengel. Artwork © Herb Leonhard. All Rights Reserved. Site Design Donna Farrellhttp://www.donnadoodles.comshapeimage_6_link_0