SIX MINUTES WITH ELANA ARNOLD:
Six Minutes with an Author, LitPick’s weekly treat, presents to you Elana Arnold! Elana completed her M.A. in Creative Writing/Fiction at the University of California, Davis. She grew up in Southern California, where she was lucky enough to have her own horse, a gorgeous mare named Rainbow, and a family who let her read as many books as she wanted. She lives in Huntington Beach, California, with her husband, two children, and a menagerie of animals. Infandous is a tangled mash-up of fairy tales (not the Disney versions) and the first-person narration of a Venice Beach artist and surfer.
How did you get started writing?
Writing for me was a natural extension of reading, which I did easily from an early age. I don’t remember a time before reading. Come to think of it, I can’t remember a time before writing. A more interesting question may be, How did I get started writing again? There have been disruptions in my writing life—some small, some cataclysmic. Finding my way back to the page seemed at times to be improbable, even impossible. So, what brought me back to writing? Always, the story—that spark of thrill that strikes when an idea, or an image, or a character, or a first line emerges. And after I’ve stepped away again, which I always do, I am struck with the fear that I will never be able to do it again. Whether it’s been an hour or a day or a year since I last sat down to write, it always feels impossible that it will work again, that I will be able to write another word. The desire to put that idea, image, character, or turn of phrase onto paper has to outweigh the paralyzing fear that I will fail.
Who influenced you?
Everyone. I am a sieve, a butterfly net, a cup dipped into water. The books I read, the people I meet, the movies and shows I watch, all of it influences me. My job is to collect and then reflect. Authors who have inspired me lately include Nina LaCour, Cheryl Strayed, Martha Brockenbrough, Stephanie Kuehn, Laura Ruby, and Brandy Colbert.
Do you have a favorite subject or setting?
I think the transition from innocence to experience has figured into everything I have published so far, from my edgiest YA to my sweetest Middle Grade. So often we see this transition portrayed as a fall or a loss. I find that idea repellant. It is our biological imperative to grow, to learn, to move into power. It thrills me to explore this terrain in my writing.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to be an author?
Remember that everyone else’s input on your writing is advice, not an order. Listen carefully, and take what you want. You don’t even have to take the good advice if you don’t want to.
Where is your favorite place to write?
Usually wherever I’m not actually working. I don’t know how much I actually enjoy writing. More often, I enjoy having written.
What else would you like to tell us?
Whenever a person gives hours of their life to reading one of my books, I feel honored. We each get a limited amount of this time on the earth, and the idea that people are willing to spend some of their time with me is a breathtakingly beautiful thing. Thank you.
We are honored that you chose to spend some of your time with us, Elana! We love how you are influenced by so many sources. Infandous, a YA novel, is available as a print and e-book now.