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Unveiling the Passion: An Inspiring Conversation with Best-Selling Author Shari Tapscott on Young Adult Fiction, Writing Romance, and Overcoming Writer’s Bloc

What is your favorite writing and reading genre?

I’m going to cheat a little bit and say romantic young adult fiction. I know that encompasses all kinds of subgenres—fantasy, contemporary, science fiction—but it’s the age that matters. I love to relive that feeling of first love, both when I’m reading and when I’m writing. And, for me, there must be romance in a book. Always.

Where and how did you get your idea for your books?

Most of my book ideas pop into my head rather randomly. The entire Eldentimber Series started with the idea of a medieval tournament, and it took off from there.

The book with the most interesting beginning was Glitter and Sparkle. One day my seven-year-old daughter, Chelsea, was on the computer, playing on the Barbie website. She was on some kind of game where she was pasting stickers onto a background. She had dozens and dozens of dolls, and suddenly, and quite randomly, she yelled out, “Forward Chelsea army, Sparkle! Sparkle!”

I have no idea why, but it stopped me in my tracks. At that moment, I thought to myself, that’s what we need in fiction. More sparkle. Later that day I began outlining. And there you go.

If a movie or TV show would be created for your books, which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead roles for you books?

There are only two of my characters that I’ve truly envisioned on the screen. I’ve always pictures Bella Thorne playing Pippa and Ben Barnes playing Rigel. Other than those two, I’m not sure. The characters are so very alive in my head, I have trouble picturing anyone playing them but themselves…

When did you decide to become a writer?

I’ve always wanted to be a writer, from the time I was in elementary school and fell truly, madly, deeply in love with reading. When I was about twenty, I did a correspondence writing course that focused on writing for magazines, but that wasn’t my passion. Secretly, I started writing books. I never told anyone, and I never finished anything. But I kept at it. In 2014, during a November Nanowrimo event, I finally finished my first novel. It was a mess, and it never made it to publishing, but it’s what made me realize this is what defines me. I am a writer. That’s who am I.

How did you get your book published? How long did it take for you to get it published?

I’m not sure when it happened, but I realized a lot of my favorite authors were self-published. I liked the idea of doing it myself—writing what I wanted to write, sticking to my own schedule. I put Pippa of Lauramore out there to see how it went. The whole process took me about nine months from the time I started writing to the time Pippa went live on Amazon. It was rocky at first, but I learned a lot in the first year.

Do you ever get writer’s Block? If so, which book did you get the worst while writing?

Oh, yes. It’s a horrible thing. I never used to have trouble with it. I would sit down, and I would write. Simple as that. And then people started looking forward to my books; they wanted to know when the next one was going to be out. And that’s when I realized I wasn’t just writing for me anymore. It definitely got worse at that point. The fourth Eldentimber book was the worst. In fact, I ended up throwing away about 30,000 words. I started over, working up a whole new outline, and after that, it went fairly smoothly.

What is the average time for you to write a book?

I write most of my books in about a month and a half. I like to write quickly and then step away from the project for a while so I can come back to it with fresh eyes. The whole process, including editing and formatting and all that other stuff, takes about four months. I usually have three projects all at various stages going at once.

For your own reading, do you prefer kindle or paperback books?

I will admit it; I love my Kindle. My favorite part is that I can read in bed while my husband sleeps, and I don’t disturb him. Book lights always got in the way, and they were just too bright. I still read paperbacks, and there’s something magical about the feel of a new physical book, but I’m a Kindle girl.

How are the covers made for you books?

I have had a passion for Photoshop for years. Before I started publishing, I sold digital art on Etsy as a hobby. Though I was hesitant at first, I decided to make my own covers. I didn’t love my first ones, but I’m happy with the ones I have now. In fact, I’ve noticed that if I’m struggling with a scene, sometimes it helps to take a break and work on the cover. It gets me excited about the project again, makes me want to share it.

What advice would you give writer wannabes and future/young authors?

Read. Read, read, read. If you don’t love reading, you will come to hate writing. Also, always keep writing. Don’t stop; don’t get discouraged. Experiment with different genres. Write what excites you. Pretend your story is a movie—really visualize it. If you can’t close your eyes and see it, you’re not quite ready to write it.

What do you do during your free time, how do you relax?

If I’m home and have nothing pressing to take care of, I’ll almost always end up in front of my computer. So when I need to unwind, I try to get out of the house. I like to hike and go for walks. I prefer quiet areas, places where I don’t have to worry about cars or noise. There is a large BLM area about five minutes from our house, and my family has been walking there in the evenings. It’s just a dry patch of desert, but at sunset, it’s beautiful. It’s quickly becoming one of my favorite places.

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