I'm thrilled to welcome one of my favorite young authors, Iris Black. When you meet Iris, it's impossible not to feed off her energy and enthusiasm. Enjoy the interview!
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you always imagined.” - Henry David Thoreau
Iris Black is a young adult author and a young adult! Juggling school projects and college applications with her laptop full of bright characters and fun stories guarantees she will have an eventful senior year.
Your character, Sam, has tons of friends, but is no longer content with being "Just One Of The Guys." What inspired you to write Sam's story?
I guess the inspiration was in my own experiences. Most of my close, longtime friends are guys and they range from all types: computer nerds, science and math geeks, athletes, and especially band kids. We’ve had some fun adventures - and misadventures. Being the only girl in the group put me in the interesting position of having to keep up while being the go-to guru for relationship advice. Despite the fact that they all had girlfriends before a guy ever asked me out. So Sam is the product of some of the things girls like me go through. I just hadn’t found a young adult book that dealt with the issues - the romance and the adventure and the conflicts - that can and often do happen to real girls.
You're a young author trying to balance school with writing. Do you see a career in writing, or will it be your "secondary passion?"
I am going to keep writing and I hope to make it a big part of my life and not let it slip into a hobby. Still, I enjoy the more academic side of life. I plan to pursue a full career apart from writing, but I’m willing to adapt those plans if my writing situation changes.
E-books are booming and you're reaching a huge audience. To what do you attribute your success? Any marketing tools you'd care to share with other authors?
Honestly, I have to lay my success at the feet of my readers. I think there’s a big demand for young adult e-books - most teenagers have access to a computer or even iPhones and iPods that are equipped with e-readers. Being able to read a book on the same device that plays your music or lets you check Facebook is a big draw for teen readers. The best tip I can give on marketing is to find a need and fill it - but fill it with what you know and like. I was in the marching band at my old school and we had a ton of fun adventures, so I knew exactly what my characters needed to experience to make the story feel real. Add a touch of imagination and you have a realistic escape - something that appeals to most teen readers.
Any plans to expand Sam's story? Are you working on any other writing projects?
I am writing a sequel to Sam’s story and plan to continue chronicling the adventures of her and her friends. Like you mentioned before, I’m balancing school and writing. I started at a new, more rigorous school this past year and it’s been a bit of an adjustment digging out some time to hang out with Sam, but I’ve got a better handle on things now. I’ve also been playing with urban fantasies and even a historical fantasy. I hope to have at least one of those bigger projects completed sometime next summer.
What one piece of advice would you give young writers starting out?
Don’t lose your imagination, loose it. In school, the focus is going to be on academic writing - analyze this book, analyze this old dead writer’s style, analyze your biology lab results, etc. Don’t let the analysis bury your creativity. Try not to write fairytales on the backs of you English essays, but keep finding time to jot down the bits and pieces that pop into your head when you let yourself daydream.
What is your favorite subject in school? Your least favorite?
Hmm, this is a tough one. I think I like history the most. It is the most epic story that hasn’t been finished yet and I really enjoy finding connections between, say, the Black Death and Hitler’s invasion of Poland in WWII. My least favorite is probably chemistry. I had a really tough time in the class this past year and it was really difficult for met to wrap my brain around schizophrenic electrons (they’re waves and particles).
If you could spend time with one character from a favorite childhood book, who would it be?
Ahh! Another hard one, I have lots of favorite books. However, I’d have to say Canth from Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series. He was a brown dragon and F’lon was his rider. I loved the dragons and Canth was always full of good humor while being just as brave and impressive as the more prestigious bronze dragons. Plus, who wouldn’t want to ride dragonback?
Thanks for a great interview, Iris! And, after reading all about this talented author, I'm sure you'll want to check out her work!