Well, in some ways I always feel like I'm failing at something. Some days I don't write. Some days my kids watch TV. And most days, my house is a mess. But I do place a lot of priority on writing time. It helps keep me sane. If I've gotten a good writing flow going, I never feel awful about the day.
How does your hubby support you in your writing endeavors?
First of all, he takes my dreams seriously. It's always been a matter of "when" with him, not "if." But obviously, I need his help to write. He watches the kids. He forgives me when he walks through the door and I'm at the computer and only realize then that I should have made dinner. And he reads my stuff and tells me I'm awesome.
When did you first decide you wanted to write for young adults?
I think that writing for young adults is a product of the fact that I started writing when I was a young adult. I wrote for teenage-me and I still do. I took a break and studied playwriting and screenwriting in college. When I took my first stab at a novel, my critique partner was the one to point out that it was young adult. Then I started reading young adult voraciously and fell in love with it!
How do your kids feel about mommy being a writer?
Well, my daughter is still a little young to totally get what I'm doing. (She just turned two.) But she has sat down at the keyboard and mashed at it and informed me she was "working." A proud moment was when my son (who is turning five next month) answered a survey about me for mother's day and when he was asked what I did as a job he said "writing" and when he was asked what I like to do, he said "writing." He wants me to write books he can read. So I've started doing just that. I will say, one of the joys with my son is that he writes books too. He dictates them, we print them out and he illustrates them. I love fostering his imagination.
Do you have any writing friends who are also stay-at-home moms? If so, how do you support each other as writer-moms?
Yes! Thank god! My critique partner and dear friend is also a write-at-home-mom. She's the one who encouraged me to take a stab at writing a book. I was sort of bored being a stay-at-home-mom; I needed some mental stimulation. It was easy enough to do while my son played. And pretty soon, the two of us would get together a few times a week. Our kids are the same ages so they play while we work, or talk publishing, or gossip. It's basically the ideal situation.
Olivia Hinebaugh is a write-at-home-mom with a five-year-old boy and a two-year-old girl. Along with parenting articles, she writes young adult novels. This means a) she writes whenever the kids are sleeping and b) her house is often messy. Some people can do it all. Olivia is not one of those people. Recently she's been writing about: hippies, a teen midwife, a theater prodigy, and night club D.J.s. She's on the fence about the Oxford comma. (Put down your pitchfork!) Olivia can be found online at oliviahinebaugh.com and Tweeting at @OliveJuiceLots.
So I've actually only been to 4 continents! I wish I have been to all 7 (that is the dream, you know? But alas, no endless money or time).
I'm not sure how my travels influenced my writing. I honestly don't write while I am away (unless you count when I lived in Colorado for a month and our agent gave me revisions), so I do a lot of reading. I try to pick up a book in every state or country I go to. If it is a new country, I try to pick up an author that is from there. My parents now try to pick up the same for me when they go abroad so I have a small collection of international authors!
Do you journal (or photo journal) when you travel?
I kept a journal when I lived in Australia for 5 months. I was studying abroad and wanted a way to keep in touch with my family and friends back home (especially my grandmother). I was able to set it up so I sent the blog posts directly to my grandmother, who treated them like they were specifically written for her like letters. She would write back and say what she thought of my adventures and schooling, etc. It was so lovely. I lost my grandmother two years later and really wish I had saved her e-mails.
You can find my Australia journal on my blog, Rachel's Australian Adventures:(Rereading it makes me so embarrassed as I was in my early 20's then and so young!)
Please share how you later used something from your journal as inspiration in one of your manuscripts.
You know, I almost answered this question with "Dionna, NOTHING from my travels have influenced my writing!" But then I was rereading my blog from living in Australia and remembered when my Aussie friends and I went camping. My next work-in-progress is about an 18-year-old girl who plans a camping trip with her best friend, only that her best friend ends up in alcohol rehab instead, and she does the trip with her BFF's brother instead. I only went camping for one night on the beach in Australia but it was SO FUN that I can remember it still years later.
Why do you like to travel to areas where the culture is so different than your own?
I really enjoy seeing new places. I went to schools with only people who were Jewish, up until high school where I went to a more public school. It was very different. I think the same is with traveling. Learning about new cultures really opens my eyes to things I may have not seen or heard of before. (An aside, I also tend to be more adventurous when I am away from home. I've been skydiving, cliff jumping, and glacier hiking in different countries. I would NEVER do that in America!)
Do any of your main characters have a similar love? If so, please tell me about him or her.
I think all characters often embody parts of you, whether it's flaws or physical features or memories or emotions. Some part of you has to go into a work of art. While neither of my main characters want to travel, in my novel OF FRAGILE THINGS (YA contemporary) my main character's older sister Skylar has a real desire to see more of the world and enlists. She knows that enlisting into the military means more opportunity for her than their small town, more than a college in a different state; it means seeing things that are terrifying and scary and new. So I guess I would say "yes" a character does have a similar love for seeing and experiencing new places but it's not my main character.
If you could take a residency anywhere in the world, where would it be and what would the subject of your writing project be?
I would LOVE to go to Ireland. And also back to Australia. Ireland is a dream country for me--it looks beautiful and sounds like a country filled with stories, my favorite kind of place! As for Australia, I lived there for 5 months and really miss it--I always joke I left a part of me behind there--and I looked into graduate programs there. Unfortunately it was too expensive for me to attend so I scrapped the idea. But I would love to do a writing retreat or residency in Ireland or Australia and I think I would focus on myths and fairy tales (I have a fondness for them; they show up in the YA that I snagged Carrie Howland with, too).
Rachel Simon is a YA contemporary writer represented by Carrie Howland of Donadio & Olson, Inc. Originally from northern New Jersey, she now lives in Boston, MA (but doesn't root for the Red Sox). She has a B.A. in Creative Writing, a certificate in Publishing, and will receive her MLIS/MA in Library Science & Information Technology and Children's Literature in 2017. She blogs at Rachel Writes Things, and Tweets @rachelwrites007.