It's a pleasure to welcome Karen Mueller Bryson to the blog. Karen has been busy promoting her YA book Retro Geeks. Karen is an accomplished writer with 9 screenplays under her belt as well as works of non fiction and fiction alike.
Karen, first thing off ... you were first a screenwriter and playwright. How did that help prepare you for writing fiction for a YA audience?
I think any opportunity to write, regardless of the medium, is a chance to improve one’s writing skills. I began writing plays in 1996 and then ventured into writing novels in 2000 and screenplays in 2005. I enjoy the process of creating a story and telling it in both screenplay and novel format. I originally wrote Retro Geeks as a screenplay then adapted it into a short novel. The screenplay acted as a spine and kind of outline for the novel.
Did you find it a big jump from writing a screenplay or theatrical play to writing a book? Did you find the cadence different in adapting your style to a novel?
I like writing short novels that are fast-paced and fun. The process of adapting a screenplay lends itself well to this type of short form work. The first screenplay I adapted into novel format was my tween time travel adventure, The Incredibly Awesome Adventures of Puggie Liddell. When I worked on adapting that script, I feel in love with the process. It was like taking a coloring book picture and filling it in. I spent the next six months adapting three more of my screenplays into novels. My most recent adaptation is Retro Geeks. Now, every time I plan a new screenplay, I plan the novel adaptation right along with it.
What was your inspiration for this particular story?
Senior prom is such an important right-of-passage in the United States. I wanted to write about two best friends, comedic characters like Romy and Michelle from Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion, who have trouble getting dates for prom, and the lengths to which the two might go to fit in with the popular crowd in order to get prom dates. I also thought it would be fun to have the girls be obsessed with 80s music and culture as a way to introduce some of those classic bands and songs to the younger generation.
How do you maintain focus? When you start a project do you lay it out on paper or in your head or go with the flow and write on the fly? Are you big on rewrites? When do you know when to let go of a scene and move on?
I think about a story and characters for a long time before I put anything down on paper. I lay a lot of the story out in my head and imagine key scenes before I write them. I begin to think about the characters and story day and night, and sometimes, I even dream new scenes. When I start the writing process, the story usually flows pretty quickly because I’ve been thinking about it so long. I generally do quite a bit of rewriting. I like to play with words and figure out the best and most concise way of expressing each idea.
Since you probably have done a number of interviews for the tour already, I must ask: what one question do you wish an interviewer would have asked you but has not? Is there something more you'd like to share with your readers here? Something you'd like your readers to know about yourself?
People, who are not writers, may not understand how many writers feel about their work. My writing is a product of my creation and my personal expression. I feel as though I “give birth” to a new story whenever I write. I don’t have children but I feel as though my stories are like “babies” that I’m putting out into the world. I don’t think most people would go up to a new mother and tell her everything they think is “wrong” with her newborn baby. Such a thing would be completely rude and inappropriate. Yet, people think it’s perfectly acceptable to give unsolicited criticism of my books. It’s completely baffling to me.
Would you share with us any details of upcoming projects you may be working on at present?
My next release is the biography of roller derby sports legend, Cindy McCoy. That book should be out by the end of June. Also in the works is the graphic novel version of The Incredibly Awesome Adventures of Puggie Liddell, which is being released by Zeta comics.
What advice would you give a writer starting out, how you stay focused, how you deflect negative criticism, how you organize your day to include your creative process?
Don’t let anyone stop you from reaching for your dreams. If you want to be a writer, just keep writing. Try to write every day, if possible, even if it’s just a few paragraphs. Let writing become a habit. It’s also important to read as much as you can.
The blog tour for Retro Geeks starts next Monday and it going to be very busy. How excited are you about the rollout of your book in this digital meet-and-greet with your audience?
I’m extremely excited! Thank you so much for interviewing me. I appreciate it!