Last May, I had the incredible opportunity to be an author’s assistant for New York Times Bestselling Author, Joelle Charbonneau, at a Teen Book Festival! She shared some super inspiring information about writing, performing, and publishing. This May (a full year later!), I am going to be featured as a teen author at the same festival and I am so thankful for all the advice Joelle gave! Her books are amazing and her author story is so cool as well.
So, I got the opportunity to interview her for this site!
What inspired you to start writing?
Funny enough, getting rejected inspired me to start writing. I was a music theater and opera performer for a long time and loved being on stage. But part of being a performer is getting rejected. There was one audition and call-back that went really well. I was hoping I would make that next show, but when I got to my dressing room for the show I was currently performing, I learned that several of the people in my dressing room had gotten cast that day in the showâ€¦.and I had not. Sighâ€¦That night while I was driving home, I suddenly had an opening line of a book in my head. The idea wouldn’t go away and so two weeks later I started writing that book. It is a terrible book, but it made me want to try and write something better.
Which one of your books is your favorite?
I think my favorite book is always the one that I just finished writing. So, I guess NEED would be my favorite book. When I’m done with the one I’m writing now that will probably replace it. It’s kind of a quirky, thank-God-I-got-to-the-end-again kind of thing.
What kinds of books do you personally enjoy?
I love reading almost anything. My shelves are filled with books in just about every genre as well as a bunch of non-fiction. However, if you push me to name a favorite genre, I would have to say anything that has a mystery at the heart of the story. I love puzzles!
How do your dreams from childhood/teen years relate to now?
You know, I always dreamed of doing lots of different things. I wanted to be a lawyer and an actress and a teacher and maybe even a congressman. Never did I think about being a writer. However, being a writer means that I get to explore being a lawyer and a teacher and a government official and even a performer. Each book is a new challenge and lets me experience a whole new life. So, I guess being a writer let me achieve my dreams in a way that I never would have thought was possible.
In your opinion, what is the best thing about being an author?
Ha! I think I answered that in the above question. Having a job where I always get to learn new things and explore various ways of looking at things is both a challenge and a real joy.
What is a favorite author memory of yours?
I think my favorite author moment was when I was first published. I was at a mystery conference and was wandering around the room where books were being sold and Harlan Coben walked by and said “Hey Joelle.” I said hello back then realized I wasn’t wearing my badge and that Harlan actually knew my name. It was a moment that made me feel like I belonged in the writing community. I’ll never forget it.
What are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on a stand-alone thriller where 16 year old Sarah is living with her grandmother who has Lewy Body Dementia. They are both working to mask the problem so they can stay together. Only one day Sarah comes home to find a dead body on the kitchen floor and her grandmother standing in the kitchen with a bloody knife. Grandma doesn’t remember who the woman is or even if she killer her, but she is worried that the woman is part of a secret from the past that has come back to find them and is far more deadly than any disease. The working title of the book is MASKED. We’ll see if I decide to change it before sending it to my editor. First, I have to finish it!
Right now there isn’t a lot of news. Tons of stuff happens behind the scenes before things ever really move forward into casting or stuff that can be announced. I will say that I think NEED’s adaptation has a better chance of being produced first since it is a smaller scale movie when it comes to budget. That always makes things easier.
I have NO secrets. But, there are some things I do when I write that tend to keep me going. First, when I’m writing a book I write every day. I don’t outline, so I sit down every day to find out what happens next. I also don’t edit while I write. I get to the end and then go back. It is impossible for me to edit until I know where the story is going. So I have to push to THE END before I can ever think to start making the book better.
To all aspiring writers, I would say first and foremost – read! Don’t stop reading. Lots of writers forget that they need to keep reading and fill their head with stories and different storytelling techniques. Also, remember that writing is about rewriting. Don’t rush to submit your work or publish it until you believe it is the very best representation of what you can do.