Today Liesl Shurtliff joins LitPick for a Six Minutes with an Author interview! The fifth of eight children, Liesl grew up loving dancing, singing, playing the piano and reading. Liesl’s first two books are Rump: The True Story of Rumplestiltskin and Jack: The True Story of Jack & the Beanstalk. Her third book, Red: The True Story of Little Red Riding Hood comes out April 12th.
How did you get started writing?
After I graduated from college I took a correspondence course on writing for children and teens, just for fun. I had the good fortune to have Kirby Larson as my teacher. She was a great mentor and still is today. She encouraged me to continue writing and submit my work for publication in magazines. So I did and I kept doing that until I decided to write a novel, which is something I never thought I'd do, but the process completely sucked me in. So what started out as a little hobby pretty much changed my life.
Who influenced you?
As a writer, I'm very influenced by other writers that I read and enjoy. Roald Dahl, Lewis Carroll, Gail Carson Levine, Shannon Hale, Shel Silverstein, and Judy Blume are just a few authors I feel have influenced my own style and voice. I'm also influenced by my family and friends. Their personalities and humor are infused into my characters and dialogue.
Do you have a favorite book/subject/character/setting?
Favorite book: Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. I think I've read it a dozen times and love it more every time.
Favorite character: I have so many favorite characters in books, but today I'm going to go with Neville Longbottom in Harry Potter. Let's hear it for the bumbling underdog who has more depth and potential than we initially realized.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to be an author?
Always my advice for aspiring writers is to read, write, repeat. Read as many books and genres as you can get your hands on. When you find a book that you really love, read it again and again. See if you can articulate what the writer is doing that makes the book so good to you, and then try to emulate those same principles and tactics in your own writing. Classes and workshops can be good and helpful, but I feel their purpose is most useful in networking and learning the business side of writing. I know of no better way to become a better writer than to read good books and then go and write your own.
Where is your favorite place to write?
In a quiet room, sitting in a comfortable chair near a sunny window, usually the couch in my living room.
What else would you like to tell us?
I made a resolution to not eat sugar for an entire year. Like zero sugar. I even signed a contract. My daughter is baking chocolate chip cookies right now. I hate resolutions.
Thank you for spending six minutes with LitPick, Liesl! It was so interesting to hear that you started with a correspondence course on writing for children and teens! We’re very impressed with your resolution not to eat sugar for a year! Good luck with your resolution!