Interview with Author Robin Stephen!

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Robin Stephen is the author of Another Year or Two. Look for the review of the book coming soon!

Let’s start by getting to know you a bit. What can you tell us about who Robin Stephen is?

My mom jokes I was born fully formed. I was obsessed with reading and writing and horses as a kid. That’s never really changed. I’m a highly self-motivated person, and I guess I’ve always been pretty focused on doing the things I think are worth doing and avoiding the rest. I’m married to a wonderful man who supports all my passions and shares them with me. I’ve been able to build a life around the things I love. I feel really lucky about that.

What was it like publishing your book as a relatively new author? Was it difficult to break out into the world of the published?
I had my obligatory years of form rejections gradually morphing into asks for pages. It is tiring and draining, of course, but I am so glad my first novel got rejected repeatedly. That’s what pushed me to focus on craft for so many years. I thought my books were ready to see the light of day long, long, long before they really were.
Being a new author is definitely difficult. The part I didn’t understand is how much work it is to promote a new book. I should have started building my platform years ago, but I never felt comfortable telling people I was a writer until I had something to show for it. So far my book has received a fair bit of positive feedback, which is gratifying, but I still have a small reach. It’s a journey… I’m learning the ropes as I go.
What do you do to get yourself writing?
I give myself a schedule, and rules. I write first thing in the morning, and I have a required word count (which varies depending on what I’m writing). Currently I’m writing the third book in a fantasy trilogy. This means I get to hang out with characters I know pretty well, so the writing goes fast. My daily quota is 1500 words for this kind of work. When I’m rewriting or refining I spend the same amount of time on less words.
Another Year or Two is unique in its set-up. What made you want to tell this story through blog entries?
I started this work as an exercise in voice. I don’t really remember how I came up with the idea. I wanted to practice writing in the first person, and challenge myself to do it as many different people. I didn’t even know how long I would keep it up, but I got really sucked in and attached to the town and my characters. I never thought this would be my first published novel, but it all came together in a way that surprised even me.
How difficult was it to write from so many characters’ perspective?
It was harder for some characters than others. Madison, for instance, wrote herself. Casey was the hardest. Getting him to come through consistently and in a way that felt realistic was definitely a challenge. I spent a lot of time developing their little tics. I had a short list of rules for each of them – what kind of sentences they use, how they punctuate, any words they consistently misuse or grammatical errors they make repeatedly. After I wrote each post I’d go back and refine it as much as possible for that character.

There’s a lot of heart in this book, and it’s so interesting to see the same town from the lenses of different ages and genders. Which character was your favorite to write?

Madison was my favorite, because she was so fun and easy. I also enjoyed working on Kyle’s posts, because those were always an exercise in saying as much as possible with the fewest words. The other thing I had a lot of fun with was the comments sections, and the way the characters interacted with each other directly on the page.
Lastly, what’s some advice you’d like to give some of our future writers reading this?
I wish I’d known sooner how important it is to spend time rewriting, and to take revisions seriously. I had written quite a few full-length novels before I ever rewrote one, and it wasn’t until I did so that I started to understand what separates something anyone can bang out given enough time from a well-crafted story.
And don’t forget reading. I am careful about what I read when I’m writing. Having a good writer in your head will elevate your craft, but the opposite is also true.
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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Interview with Author Robin Stephen!

  1. Pingback: Summer Writing Challenge Check-in: Week 3 (I wrote something. I actually wrote something!) | Write on the World

  2. Pingback: Review of Another Year or Two by Robin Stephen! | What Not to Read: Bray and Books

  3. Hi Robin–
    Your book, Another Year Or Two, sounds so intriguing. I can’t wait to read it. I’m like you, I’d think my work was ready, long before it was ready. I agree, revising and rewriting are essential tasks for writers and those tasks take time. Looks like you’ve got that nailed. Good luck with your book!
    Victoria–

  4. Pingback: Bray and Books - interview with Robin Stephen and review

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