Sunshine Somerville: I've loved stories since I was a little kid, and I've always had a crazy imagination. My brother, our two childhood best friends, and myself all played "The Kota" when we were kids to the point that their mother was worried about what we were spending all day so invested in. So, my mom told me to write out a story of what we played. That was the first story I wrote (I think it was 20 pages), and I loved it so much I kept right on doing it.
LBBB: How long did it take for you to write your first book?
S.S.: I started writing "The Kota" when I was nine, and I self-published the first version my senior year of college. So...that one took a while. I wasn't writing non-stop during that time, of course, but I did pick it up off and on over those many years.
LBBB: How do you come up with ideas for your stories?
S.S.: In the early years of writing, a lot of my ideas were thinly veiled thievery from stories I loved - Star Wars, X-Men, etc. As I grew older, I think my inspirations evolved to include more real-life events, news, and places I visited.
Really, as a writer, anything can spark an idea - oftentimes when you're not even paying attention and then WHAM, something gives you an idea.
LBBB: What is your writing routine like? Do you have a set schedule or are you flexible?
S.S.: I write in spurts. I admire writers who can sit down at such-and-such a time every day and write for x-amount of hours. My OCD tendencies would love to be able to schedule like that. But that's just not how it works for me - the creative flow hits me for spurts at a time. I might write for hours each day and then not get back to it again for weeks or months.
LBBB: What inspires you to write?
S.S.: Again, I've always loved stories and creating. When I see a great movie or read a great book, I'm often inspired by those artists' creativity and want to make something myself. It's great, as a writer, to feel like you're contributing to the great collection of art out there.
LBBB: Are any of your stories written from personal experience, or any character traits that mirror yours?
S.S.: Oh, dear. Haha. The four main characters of my book series are modeled after the four of us who played "The Kota" as kids, so there are a lot of our personal quirks I put into those characters. It's also quite cathartic to get all your personal messy bits out on paper, and I think it adds a real flavor to a character's development.
LBBB: When in a slump, what do you do? If you read or listen to music, what are your go-to books or music?
S.S.: Since I write in spurts, it often takes a while for me to feel the creative bug again. But, I'm definitely a visual person, so watching movies that stretch my imagination always seems to do the trick. And, oddly, listening to movie soundtracks.
LBBB: How do you respond to negative feedback/comments with your work?
S.S.: Fortunately, I haven't had to deal with too much of this. I think it's important to remember that art is subjective, and not everyone is going to like what you do even if many others do. Negative reaction is definitely the biggest fear when putting your work out there, but it helps to have a writing community where people who know exactly this fear can encourage you.
LBBB: What is your writing space like? Do you work anywhere or do you have a special place just for your writing? Messy or clean?
S.S.: I'm a very clean, orderly person, but I also creatively function best if surrounded by color. I don't know why. It also helps that I use a laptop, so I can change the scenery if I'm going stir-crazy.
LBBB: Do you have a favorite author? Series?
S.S.: I really don't know about ONE favorite author. On the list would be C.S. Lewis, Poe, Fitzgerald, S. King, L'Engle, OS Card, Heinlein, etc. etc.
But the Ender's Game series was definitely the book series that kicked off my "I want to write like this!" feeling, so those books hold a special place in my heart.
LBBB: Any fur-babies?
S.S.: Umm... I've always been a dog person, but I live with a cat. Can't say I own the cat; the cat owns me. That's how they work, right?
LBBB: Thanks for joining us this week, and letting us pick your author brain.
Besides writing, her creative outlets include painting and making feature-length, spoof movies such as "Love Not Really" and "I Knew What You Did Last Summer, Then I Forgot, But Now I Remember Again." She also enjoys spending time outdoors on her family's hunting preserve.
She would like to point out that, yes, this is her real name.