Author Q&A: Erica Waters

Erica Waters, author of ‘Ghost Wood Song’, has kindly answered some questions about being an author and her book.

I reached out to Erica Waters, after reading her book ‘Ghost Wood Song‘, to see if she could possibly answer a few questions for my blog. Amazingly she responded and answered them (very much appreciated) so here are her answers;

1. What made you want to become a writer, primarily YA novels?

I have loved writing since early elementary school and have always thought of myself as a writer, from angsty middle school poetry to creative nonfiction in college. But when I was getting my M.A. in English, I took a creative writing class and fell in love with writing fiction. Soon after, I read Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone series and realized I would love to write books like those.

2. Did you have any specific inspiration or influence to write ‘Ghost Wood Song’?

One day, I was upstairs writing in my attic office when I heard someone playing a banjo. We have a few banjos in our house, but I was the only one home. When I went downstairs, the music stopped. So that got me to thinking about a connection between ghosts and bluegrass instruments, and Shady’s ghost-raising fiddle was born!

3. What did your process for writing this book look like? Did it require a lot of research?

I wrote this book fairly quickly, within about three months, but it took years of revision to get it to the form it’s in today. My research largely involved listening to music, especially bluegrass and folk. The book grew out of my connection to that music.

4. This book features a lot of big topics such as loss and love, did you find that the book required a balance between these?

Yes, it was often difficult to balance between the heavier aspects of the novel and the more lighthearted ones. Shady is dealing with tremendous grief for her father, as well as with a difficult home life, plus the scary supernatural stuff. But I also wanted to let her have some of the ordinary teen experiences, thus her relationships with Sarah and Cedar and all that drama! It was challenging to keep all those plates in the air without dropping one. I hope I succeeded.

5. An LGBTQ+ love triange is present in the book, was this a conscious decision to include different sexualities?

I’m bisexual and tend to write characters who share my sexual orientation. I do think it’s important for readers to see representations of bisexual characters written by bisexual people because public perception of bisexuals is often negative. It felt important to allow Shady to be herself, which is a sweet, determined, bighearted girl who also happens to be attracted to more than one gender.

6. At the core of this book is music, even Shady Groves name, is this something that was always the plan and with this genre of music?

Yes! In fact, the first line of this book I ever wrote was “My daddy named me Shady Grove, after the old Appalachian song.” This book is twined with bluegrass and folk and americana music in general. There’s no Ghost Wood Song without this music.

7. There are many great characters in ‘Ghost Wood Song’, do you have a favourite?

My favorite character to write was Orlando, Shady’s friend and bandmate. He’s a budding entomologist, a peacemaker, and a joker. I always felt happy when Orlando was in a scene. I find myself thinking about him a lot, wondering what he might be up to after the end of GHOST WOOD SONG.

8. Do you plan to write any more books?

Yes! I have another YA contemporary fantasy coming out in July 2021 called THE RIVER HAS TEETH, and I’m hard at work on new projects.

9. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

My best advice is to let other people into your writing life. We love the romantic idea of the lone writer typing away on their masterpiece, but the reality involves a lot more community. Sure, the writer comes up with the idea and writes it, but there are so many other people who touch a book— critique partners, beta readers, literary agents, editors, copyeditors, proofreaders, and everyone else involved in the book’s production. If you want a book to be successful, you have to welcome those people in and let them have some ownership of the book too. Even though your books feel like a part of you, you can’t cling too tightly to them or else they’ll never make it—and you won’t either. My critique partners, agent, and editor have shaped my work so much and made me a much better writer. I’m endlessly grateful for them

I loved reading Erica’s answers and I hope you did too! I again would like to that Erica for taking the time to answer my questions, its greatly appreciated.

I have a previous post on ‘Ghost Wood Song’ if you want to hear my thoughts on the book (check it out here), but I would highly recommend reading it if you haven’t already. And if you have read this book already and loved it like I did, you probably can’t wait to read ‘The River has Teeth’ (much like me !)

Many thanks, Caitlin x

(PS please feel free to like, comment and share x)

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