INTERVIEW WITH HILLARY K. GRIGONIS:
1. How did you get started writing?
My fifth grade teacher told me he wouldn't be surprised if he saw my name on a book one day. From then on, that has been my goal. I started writing a few different novels in high school—and they were horrible. But, I think that's an important step in getting started as a writer, to just write something, even if it's bad, and keep going. I studied creative writing in college, where a majority of the classes simply involved sharing what you wrote and getting feedback. By far, getting feedback and constructive criticism is what really helped me to take my writing to the next level.
2. Who influenced you?
I've always loved to read, so picking a favorite author is pretty much impossible. I've always enjoyed Margaret Peterson Haddix, I'm a fan of Huckleberry Fin and I grew up reading Robin Jones Gunn and Melody Carlson. More recently, I really enjoyed The Book Thief and Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children.
3. Do you have a favorite book/subject/character/setting?
What I love is a story with a great voice. If I can forget who I am while I'm reading, it's a great book, no matter what the author or genre is. I like books where I get into the main characters’ thoughts so much that, even after I put the book down, I find myself still thinking like them just a little bit.
4. What advice do you have for someone who wants to be an author?
Write your first drafts without editing your thoughts—there's time later to determine whether that idea was good or not—just sit down, get into your character's mind and write. Leave the first draft alone for a few days and then go back and revise. When you are semi-happy with it, get feedback. Send it to your friends who aren't afraid to tell you exactly what they think, because often the negative criticism is what helps the most.
5. Where is your favorite place to write?
I love to head outside in the spring, sit in a sunny spot and listen to the birds while I write. I do a lot of writing at my desk or in the comfiest chair in the house. I find that the best way to get over writer's block is to change up locations, so sometimes I even head out to a park or restaurant or just move to a different room at home.
6. What else would you like to tell us?
Kaleidoscope Me actually started as a short story, but once I got the character down on paper, I couldn't stop. I didn't start writing at the beginning—staring at a blank page is hard—I worked on the ideas that inspired me at the time and then just stitched it all together in the end. I don't think any two writers will have the same process; we just find what works for our style and go from there.