Interview with LK Gardner-Griffe

This week I interview the fabulous author LK Gardner-Griffie! She is a fantastic writer, a terrific cheerleader, and a wonderful friend. You can follow her on twitter @lkgg for more!

K. Andrew: Where did you grow up? Has that influenced your writing?

LK: Born in Washington State, we moved in my pre-speaking year to Southern California, so I’m definitely a West Coast girl. The bulk of my growing up years were spent in Placentia, CA. And I think no matter where you call home, it has an impact or influence on your writing, but it may not be something tangibly seen in the writing. For example, T. Jefferson Parker, who grew up in the same Orange County city I did, uses sunny Southern California as the setting for his books. When I read one of his books I recognize the surroundings—it’s tangible. And while I don’t use the same/similar settings, I think things like attitudes, culture, memories will always find their way into the writing.

K. Andrew: Excellent observation. When and why did you begin writing?

LK: I began writing when I was nine years old because I had read everything at the library that interested me, and all of the Scholastic books in the house, and I felt like there was a lack of books which were written for my age group and interests. So with two of my friends, we decided we would write a book together where we were the target audience. Needless to say, the book was never completed… I was the only one who actually wrote anything, though. But after that, I decided that if my friends didn’t want to write with me, I’d simply write it myself. I tried short stories for awhile, but quickly learned that short stories and I were destined to be strangers because my mind always wants to go on to what happens next.

K. Andrew: Total opposite of me, I’m a short story writer at heart! When did you first consider yourself a writer?

LK: I think it took me a little time to recognize myself as a writer. Mainly because I kept thinking of it in terms of career, and unless it was supporting me, was it really a career? The answer to that is yes, but I didn’t know it at the time. So, I’d say it was somewhere after the completion of Misfit McCabe and before all the revisions were done on it that I finally came to grips with the fact that I was, indeed, a writer.

K. AndrewWhat inspired you to write your first book, Misfit McCabe?

LK: The short answer is a dream. I had a dream that on waking knew would make a great story. And my sister was just the right age for the story, but was reading a lot of the trendy, fluff books, so I thought I’d write something better for her to read.

K. Andrew: Great motivation and a target audience in mind! What authors have most influenced your writing?

LK: Louisa May Alcott, Mark Twain, Joseph Heller, Agatha Christie, and my first writing teacher Othello Bach.

K. AndrewWhat are your current projects?

LK: That’s a loaded question… right now I’m juggling about six things. I am putting the final touches on No Boundaries, the third book in the Misfit McCabe series. I’ve started book four, which is currently untitled. I have a middle grade contemporary with magical elements making the agent rounds; I’ve started a middle grade contemporary, am researching a middle grade action/adventure with historical elements, and researching a deeply psychological YA contemporary. And no, I don’t usually work on so many at once, but they are all vying for my attention so I’m learning how to juggle.

K. Andrew: Whoa! That is a lot on your plate at once. What is the latest news about your writing?

LK: That it is bordering on obsession? Oh wait, that’s not really news. No Boundaries will be a fall release, and I hope to be able to announce the date soon. And if you stop by my website, www.griffieworld.com, or my book series site, www.misfitmccabe.com, you’ll see things subtly changing. I’m focusing more on the issues that my characters encounter in my writing because these are the things the readers also face. I want to provide resources and information about how to deal with the issues. For example, a major theme in any of my books is bullying. It is something that is prevalent world-wide and is something my readers have to face on a daily basis. So I have articles talking about bullying, resources of where to get help with bullies, and I recently posted a mother-daughter interview with a girl who successfully dealt with a bullying situation at her school. I’d like to do more interviews of this nature, and already have another one lined up.

K. Andrew: I commend you on providing real information to youth that face these issues, and that you are passionate about reaching out. What has been the hardest part about writing for you?

LK: About the writing itself? Hmmm. That might depend on the day. Some days things flow with no problem, and others I’m pulling toenails just to get a few words down on the page. But I think that is normal for most. I think for me, maybe the hardest part of writing is learning not to push myself so hard. That’s not to say, I’m turning myself into a sluggard (refer to my current projects list), but I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself to produce and to top myself, and during a first draft process it simply doesn’t work for me. So if I get into the mindset that it needs to be the best thing I’ve ever written as it flows onto the page, my frustration level rises and I forget the joy of the writing process. And the time this can happen for me is somewhere between the euphoria of starting a new project and the excitement of seeing the finish line ahead. I’m learning to block out things like word count per day, or how many pages I still have to go, and to focus on the joy of working with my characters.

K. Andrew: I have similar issues of first draft perfectionism that I’m slowly letting go. Do you have any writing tips you’d like to share?

LK: Don’t give up. Get feedback and lots of it. Listen to the feedback and don’t reject what you hear without consideration, but whatever the feedback, you make the final decisions for your story. And for as long as you have the passion to write… keep writing.

K. Andrew: Great advice! What is the best moment in your writing career thus far?

LK: It’s ironic, but this may be the hardest question for me to answer. I tend to cherish moments as they occur, and I’m not sure that I can put one experience above another. But I can share some of the moments which have stood out in my mind.

  • Finishing Misfit McCabe. There is something magical about finishing your first novel.
  • Getting “the call” and an offer of representation. It was a surreal moment, and one I won’t forget.
  • Hearing that books I sent to a teen shelter were scooped up, and then a previously uncommunicative teen opened up to the counselor for the first time… about my book.
  • Having another reader say that after reading my books, she wanted to read books of more substance like them.
  • Having Misfit McCabe and Nowhere Feels Like Home win teen choice awards.
  • Having a producer call me wanting to discuss film/tv rights for the books.
  • Being followed on Twitter by a middle school as part of a module about authors.
  • Making a mashable list of the top 100 Twitter authors.
  • But mostly, I think the best moments come from hearing how readers connected with my characters and the story.

K. Andrew: Those are some great moments. Having your work affect another person in a positive manner is amazing, and the very point of writing. Thank you so much for sharing with us!

LK: You’re welcome. Thank you for the opportunity.

2 Time Pearson Prize Teen Choice Award Winner
Preview Misfit McCabe / Preview Nowhere Feels Like Home
Visit me at Griffie World
Where in the World is Misfit McCabe?
Follow me on Twitter: @lkgg
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