Talking with Shay Youngblood (page 2)
Talking with Shay Youngblood
page 1, page 2, page 3,
How do you go about writing?
  I write in long hand and take notes in a small notebook I carry with me everywhere. I begin a new project by doing research in the library, taking biographical notes on the characters (I cast each character as if for a movie so I can see them clearly when I’m writing) and I write and draw detailed settings. I then map the project or write an outline of how I think the story will unfold in a few pages. Next I write a one page synopsis. I always know where the story begins and where I see it ending. I don’t always end up where I thought I would, however. I enjoy the act of writing, taking a journey and being surprised by what I find. I revise each draft on the computer, composing several drafts, adding, polishing and shaping each time.
     When I’m done with the manuscript I give it to my editor who asks me questions in the margins of the manuscript to help strengthen the work. She might make suggestions to strengthen a particular character or follow through on a plot line that I’d let drop and she corrects my grammar and tells me when I’ve done a good job, too.
Are there connections between your Peace Corps experience and your writing?
There are a lot of similarities between my journey as a PCV and that of my character, Eden, to Paris. I was young and a bit naive about working and living in a foreign country and had a lot of ideas about how I thought it would be and the reality was very different. I didn’t expect to be so physically or emotionally challenged. From washing my clothes in the river to falling in love with the island and the family I rented a house from. I didn’t expect to learn so much about myself in the process but I did and I’m richer for the experience and so is my writing.
Who do you read?
There are so many writers I admire. Sometimes I ask people to tell me what they’ve read that just knocked them out and sometimes I browse the library shelves and make discoveries for myself. I want to be swept away, disappear inside the pages of a book, I want to learn something new, see the world a little differently, from a different point of view. I read a lot of poetry, cookbooks, the telephone books I find in hotel rooms (a great resource for character names), books on gardening and astronomy and travel. I luxuriate in the written word.
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