Thursday, January 20, 2011

Interview with Author Preston Norton

Deirdra: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
Preston: I think I was about ten when I actually attempted writing a novel for the first time. I was a huge fan of Bunnicula, so my main characters were cats and dogs, and the bulk of the story involved them getting lost in Australia. Kind of a Homeward Bound copycat to be honest! I only got about thirty pages into it, but back then, I thought that was A LOT!

Deirdra: What is your writing and educational background?
Preston: I am the author of five unpublished YA novels, mostly urban fantasy and paranormal. None of these stories are sequels, although I honestly wrote each one with a series in mind. I am currently attending BYU - Idaho, majoring in English Education Composite, but that never stops me from pursuing the dream of being a big-time author.

Deirdra: Besides writing what other talents do you have?
Preston: I'm kind of a glutton for public speaking. I love it! Somehow, between school and church, I always find ways to feed this rather silly addiction.

Deirdra: What is your writing schedule like?
Preston: That depends on my school or work schedule, although my greatest writing has always happened between midnight and 5 a.m. All of the chi/karma/zen stuff of the writer's universe tends to explode during these hours!

Deirdra: Where do your ideas come from? How do you know the idea is good enough to write a book about it?
Preston: They almost always come when I'm not looking for them. Usually when I'm at work and my mind is left to wander free. Somehow, during a mindless eight-hour shift, the foundation of a story manages to write itself on its own.

Deirdra: When did the idea of writing a book first come to you?
Preston: Aside from my ten-year-old attempt, I tried writing another book when I was fourteen, when my entire world suddenly became high fantasy. That one didn't make it far past fifty pages. Finally, when I was sixteen, I commenced work on what would soon become my first complete novel (and still my longest book to this day) The Mark of Mekken.

Deirdra: What do you hope readers will someday get from you books?
Preston: My favorite storylines are the ones with characters and plot twists that stay cemented in my brain forever, subliminally affecting everything that I do and say and think! Heh heh, okay, maybe that's a little too intense, but I'd still like to provide my readers with something that sticks deep into the mind.

Deirdra: What is your process of brainstorming a story? Do you just sit down and write, waiting to see what happens next? Or do you outline first?
Preston: I never have a written outline. Occasionally I'll write down little action cues, or reminders, or names of characters that I wish to introduce later, but that's it. The vast outline in my head can only be written in one way, and that is in novel-format.

Deirdra: Do you ever experience a snag in a story, a form of writer's block? If so, how do you deal with it?
Preston: Not so much writer's block, rather being I'm bored with my own story. At that point, I usually have to delete up to a certain point and start fresh.

Deirdra: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music when you are writing?
Preston: I usually prefer quiet, although when I really need drive during an epic sequence, I'll go to Pandora's website and type in Hans Zimmer.

Deirdra: What kinds of inspiration do you use during your story creation periods?
Preston: For each of my books, I really do visualize them in movie format. As such, oddly enough, I have songs picked out for each movie's end credits. Somoehow, listening to just one three-minute song can fill me with all the inspirational drive I need.

Deirdra: Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?
Preston: Two people, actually. One is Christopher Paolini of the Eregon series. When I finished my first novel at eighteen years old, and experienced my first taste of writer's rejection, I wrote him a fan-letter, expressing my frustrations. And he wrote me back! Not just a stupid form response, but a very personalized, three page letter of encouragment. That has always stuck with me.

The other person is James Dashner of Maze Runner fame. I actually wrote this dude his very first fan letter, back in the days of his Jimmy Fincher Saga. I know because he was friends with my mom, and he told her, and she told me. I remember my mom telling me about all of his early frustrations getting noticed as writer...and now he's rockin' the New York Times Bestseller List! If that's not inspirational, I don't know what is!

Deirdra: What’s your secret to making the character’s in your books come to life?
Preston: I wish I knew! These characters usually come to life on their own. And when they don't, I rewrite them and rewrite them until they do.

Deirdra: Which of your books is your favorite, and why?
Preston: My most recent novel: Darla Summer and the Dark Lord. This story defnitely involved the most planning, and I actually have it mapped out in my head as a five part series. It's been intriguing writing elements in this first part, knowing that their significance won't come into play until several books later.

Deirdra: What is your favorite snack to have while you are writing?
Preston: I can't eat and write. It's a curse.

Deirdra: What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire to have their manuscripts become books in print?
Preston: Well I'm not in print, so I don't have too much room to talk...BUT I do know that laziness and procrastination do not equal success. If your heart is dead set on being a published author, and then pour your whole heart and soul into it!

Deirdra: What are you working on now?
Preston: It's called Demonica...and yes, it involves demons.

Deirdra: What is the most difficult thing about being an author?
Preston: Rejection with no input.

Deirdra: What is the best thing about being an author?
Preston: Being so emotionally involved with your characters that you cry when they cry.
Deirdra: You are a true author, Preston.

Deirdra: What are your goals as an author for the next three years?
Preston: I have a page-long written gameplan pinned above my bed, outlining how I will become a New York Times Bestselling author by Dec 31, 2012. You can hold me to it!

Deirdra: Where is your favorite place to write?
Preston: On my bed.

Deirdra: How do you come up with your character’s names?
Preston: It's a painful process that usually involves looking up possibilities online, and getting distracted by facebook.

Deirdra: What is the best complement you could receive from a reader?
Preston: One buddy of mine read my third novel, Danny the Undead, and told me that he couldn't stop thinking about it. I was flattered beyond words.

Deirdra: Any final words you would like to share?
Preston: This may sound a little morbid, but I would rather commit suicide than accept the possibility that I'll never become a successful published author. But I suppose that's just the determination I need to keep on keepin' on.

Thank you so much, Preston. It is a real honor to get your insights.


  1. Love these interviews. I write on my bed too! (Heck, I even write while at the dentist) LOL
    Your blog is so impressive, that I awarded it with the Stylish Blogger Award. Come by and pick it up on my blog. Congrats and keep them coming!

  2. Nice to meet you Preston. I didn't notice a link to your blog, but if you swing by here and read this I hope you'll come by mine so we can follow each other.

    Congrats on the award, Deirdra, see above comment.
    N. R. Williams, fantasy author

  3. Great interview!

    I find that music helps during certain scenes as well.

    Congrats on the award. :)

  4. Awesome interview!

    Preston, please don't kill yourself ... :)

  5. Your friend really did give you a wonderful compliment! Good interview!


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