Today I welcome author N.A. Cauldron to answer 10 Questions about her writing. N.A. writes books for all ages. Her author bio: While fantasy and science fiction usually pique her interest; humor, character conflict, and smart aleck dialogue are her favorite go to’s. She currently resides in eastern Cupola with 12 gramwhats, 3 cats, and a herd of domesticated moths.
Linda Covella: Hello, N.A. and welcome!
When and why did you decide to become a writer?
N.A. Cauldron: I remember sitting at a typewriter around the age of eight. Yes, a genuine, used a ribbon typewriter. It lives in my closet. I loved that thing so much. One day I decided I was going to write a story on it. I wrote, “A woman bought a red dress,” and went from there. It was probably a few sentences long, if that, and probably in red as I had worn out the black side of the ribbon.
When my son was about a year old, I took to writing a screenplay. It soon turned into the beginning of a book. Heavily influenced by the computer games I played at the time, that partial book sits on a computer somewhere with the hopes of one day being reborn. Not long later, I started writing what you might call fan fiction, Thomas the Train meets Bob the Builder and the Three Little Pigs, mainly for my son, of course. I decided if I could do that, I could write an original. I wrote my first picture book, Bub the Tooth, about a baby tooth that doesn’t want to leave the mouth. It wasn’t pretty, but I did try to get it published. That was back when you still snail mailed agents and editors and still got a response!
A few years ago I finally wrote my first novel, Anya and the Secrets of Cupola. I published it myself instead of querying it. I’ve considered myself a writer from that point onward.
LC: What is your writing process: where do you write, how often do you write, are you a full-time or part-time writer, do you outline or do you plot as you go, etc.?
NAC: I don’t make enough from my writing to not have to work outside the home. I hope one day to change that. Meanwhile, I work at Walmart as a self-checkout host, which basically means I stand there for eight hours. Most people can’t stand the job because they find it too boring. I use the time to write my stories. Presently, I plot at work in my head, writing notes down on receipt tape when I come up with something good, and write what I can the next morning on my laptop (I work second shift) and on my days off. This comes in really handy when I get stuck because I can spend an entire eight hours fixing it. What’s better is those eight hours are broken up by interactions with others and workly duties. I ask my coworkers for help sometimes. Several of them know I’m a writer now and humor my off-the-wall questions when I ask them. Some have read my stories. Some have bought my books. They are one of my treasures (heart emoji).
I wrote my first book utilizing the eight point story arc, after I had written 24,000 words. It took that much to develop the characters, setting, story idea, etc. and to realize I needed help bad. That’s when I learned about the 8-point arc. I’ve used it ever since as a base but have also built upon it. I now plot as much as I can, developing characters is my primary goal, and then write. The majority of my character and plotline development still occurs as I go. Yes, this means I can get stuck, and it also means I have to go back a lot and edit to make things work out, but it’s how my mind works. My major way of deciding how a story goes now is to ask the character. It often makes my job harder, but it makes the story better and more true.
LC: I think all writers do at least some plotting in their heads, but it sounds like you do more than most!
Where do you find your inspiration for your stories? Do you draw from your own experiences?
NAC: My inspirations come from all over. My biggest ones are when I’m starving for a new story and not getting it. I wrote one book for a contest. Everyone liked it so much it became Fishing for Turkey. TV shows, video games, my husband’s dreams, anything and everything can inspire me. I write stories for my customers at work. I write stories to occupy my mind. I write stories to be silly and fun. I am always writing stories. Not all of them need to be published, but they’re there 🙂
LC: Who is one of your favorite characters from your story(ies), one that you enjoyed creating and writing about, and why?
NAC: That’s a very tough question, and that makes me smile. The fact I can’t decide because I love so many of them means I created great characters. I will say Azizi was a lot of fun. I spent a lot of time making up his story just because I wanted to whether I needed to or not. A great deal of his story was never told. I was recently asked to take part of an anthology, and I wondered if his story would have made a good one for it. My current piece has several good characters too. Lydia because, like Azizi, she is so mysterious. There is a great deal about her I will never know, let alone the reader. Hannah, my main character, because of her past, her Life as she would call it. I can’t say anything else without giving away the plot 😉 .
LC: Well, we’ll just have to read the book and find out, won’t we? 🙂
Do you incorporate (or inadvertently find) any of your own personality traits into your characters?
NAC: Oh goodness yes! In my Cupolian series, Gevin is so me as he just floats through life dishing out sarcastic insults whenever inappropriate but funny. Anya is me because she has no idea what she wants, like ever, and just deals with what gets thrown at her. She’s a fighter, big time, like me. Taika because I’m very logical in my thoughts. You know that really annoying person who spouts off facts you couldn’t care less about and talks about things so over your head you can’t get it and yet can’t understand a single thing you say because they just don’t think that way? Yeah, that’s me. These weren’t on purpose, and I have since learned to ask the character what they would do, not what comes natural for me to write. I’m far from perfect in this and will undoubtedly incorporate myself into every single character I write from now until eternity, but I’m getting better. For example, in my current piece, I denied my stubborn side and wrote a scene how they would do it, not how I wanted (wanted, so bad) for it to be. I’m getting there. 🙂
LC: Do you find your stories are more plot driven or character driven? Please explain.
NAC: This is a complicated question because everyone perceives the two so differently. While many would say Harry Potter was plot driven, others say it can be classified as the character driven because it has character arcs, which it does, and that the characters make choices affecting their outcomes. I cannot answer this question with confidence, but I will say this: The Cupolian series was definitely plot driven. I threw monsters at them every corner they turned. At the same time, Anya made the choice to find the crystal. Taika made the choice to pursue potions, and they all grew throughout the books. Consider it very similar to Harry Potter in that aspect. Fishing for Turkey could be considered both, depending on who you ask, in that the plot determined what happened to them. Their Thanksgiving was flooded, yet the characters made the choice of making the best of the situation. The Queen Says is probably character driven in that the whole story (think picture book) revolves around what the Queen orders and learns from what her orders cause. My current piece is a mixture in that the main character controls her journey as best she can, but her journey was most certainly caused and affected by outside sources.
If you were to ask the experts, they would probably call my published novels plot driven. Sci-fi and fantasy stories usually are. There’s usually an evil sorcerer or a hurdling comet they must stop, and while the character(s) grow and certainly make plot altering decisions, the story itself is started and majorly controlled by that comet/sorcerer.
LC: Did you read much as a child?
NAC: Yes and no. I did as a young child, but something happened as I got older and was force fed a bunch of stuff I couldn’t stand. I think that started in fifth grade. I had to read these horrible stories about horrible things happening to innocent children. Then in high school we had to write interpretive papers only to be told we were wrong. I’m sorry, but I thought the goal was for us to make interpretations not regurgitate what the teacher thought, even though they never told us what that was (in other words, a mind reading course). College was far, far worse. Don’t get me started.
In short, I didn’t read for 14 years. Literally. Fourteen years. You can thank Ms. Rowling for changing that. I don’t know why, but one day I was walking in the book section of a store and thought, “Why not?” It took me 30 days to read the first book, 2 to read the last. I got back into reading, reading at least one per month. I don’t have the time to read now like I did then, but maybe one day I will.
LC: I think Rowling got a lot of people reading who previously hadn’t. It’s never too late, right? You should be proud!
How important do you think reading is for writers?
NAC: This is very important, but it must be done correctly. For example, I am currently writing a dark, YA paranormal. So, in preparation, I read a bunch of YA paranormal. I didn’t like all of them, but they gave me a sense of what was in right now. You can’t pitch a book that’s 10 years out of style. So while I have my favorites, I only read them in certain times so they don’t affect my writing. Meanwhile, I read what’s hot and related to my WIP (work in progress).
LC: Who are some of your favorite authors and/or books? What draws you to them?
NAC: This has changed so much recently. Like our taste buds, I think our tastes in music, books, TV, etc. also change over time. One of my all-time favorites was The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Another I have read multiple times was The Midwife’s Apprentice by Karen Cushman. I love her books.
LC: I love Cushman’s books as well.
Anything new in the works?
NAC: Yes! I did finish Inhabitants and was querying it. I do plan to revisit it in the future and so something with it. I lost a lot of my passion for it, and I have to figure out why. If I can’t fix it, I may have to shelve it, but I hate doing that as I have several people banging on my door wanting a copy. At any rate, Inhabitants is taking a back seat to my WIP, the YA paranormal I was talking about. I hope to be able to query it next spring, but you never know what’s going to happen in life. I am really excited about my WIP! I love the characters, the setting, the everything! It is so dark, so original (from what I’ve read anyway) so gripping (in my truly humble opinion). All of these “facts” are my personal opinion of course, but I hope someone out there feels the same and it can be the success I personally want it to be. I can’t wait to beta test this one!
I have two more stories dying to be told that I haven’t started on at all. Both are science fiction based. Like most authors, I have to hold off on new stories or I’ll abandon the one I’m on! Terrible, I know.
LC: It was fun learning more about your writing, N.A. Thank you!
You can connect with N.A. at the following:
Webpage – http://nacauldron.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/inacauldron/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/NACauldron
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/n_a_cauldron/