What prompted you to write The Blue Jay? Are you going to continue to write?
I had the idea for The Blue Jay in my head for a while before I finally decided to sit down and write it. Part of that was because I’d just had my second daughter and our family was going through a lot of changes around that time, though if I’m being honest, part of the delay was my own fear of putting it down on paper. The familial issues Josie and Payton must overcome are similar to issues many people face and knowing that, I felt compelled to share them.
I have three books written and in various stages of development. I have a fourth started and a fifth idea that keeps creeping its way into my thoughts. For now, my goal is to get the first three out and see what happens.
Is The Blue Jay based on real events?
My personal experience as a mentor gave way to the initial idea, but the story is not based on actual events.
Which of your characters is your favorite?
This is tough! Each character has something special about them. Payton will always be one of my favorites. My whole reason for finally writing a novel sprouted from the mentoring storyline. He’s the vulnerable, young boy who is in some ways wise beyond his years.
I also loved writing the characters Gracie and Finn from Gracie’s Song. I felt a lot of sympathy for Gracie as I wrote her. She made a choice in the past she doesn’t necessarily agree with now, and she must come to terms with it. To me, she’s a brave character and as a reader, even if you don’t agree with her actions, hopefully you are able to find something redeeming in her. Finn’s character has lived for 10 years not knowing why Gracie left and while he’s angry about it, I think you can tell from the beginning, he just deeply cares for her. Their pasts are knit together in a way that makes his frustration throughout the book understandable and I think the reader will feel what he’s feeling right along with him.
There is a character in my third novel (which will hopefully be released before the end of this year) named Nettie that I love. She’s not the most likeable in the beginning, but she grows on you. Her relationship with her son, Nat, is both heartbreaking and satisfying.
Does the idea for the story or character come first?
The story came first with The Blue Jay. I knew what I wanted to write about before I decided on the characters of Josie and Payton. With Gracie’s Song it was the idea of Gracie and Finn, characters who grew up together and whose lives were so…inseparable, that had me wanting to write their story.
What writers inspire you?
There are so many! Most recently, Madeline Miller has become a favorite author. In the past year or so I’ve found a quite a few books to inspire me, including All the Ugly and Wonderful Things and A Book of American Martyrs. I am forever in awe of Tana French’s ability to weave character development into a page-turning mystery. Jane Eyre was beautiful. I can’t believe I didn’t read it until my late 20s. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a beautifully created world. It’s a shorter book, but sticks with you.
When/where do you write?
I write whenever I can find the time. Usually that means during the girls’ naps and once they’re asleep at night. It’s hard, but like Ben says in The Blue Jay (he’s quite wise!), “If something means enough, you make time.” Writing has always meant something to me, even before I was actually working on my first book.
Do you write every day?
Yes and no. When I begin a story, I usually try to write every day so that I can keep things moving in my head. Because I don’t outline, I want things to feel seamless and not sporadic. But I try not to force it if the story isn’t coming to me. When I’m not working on a book, I don’t force myself to write. I’ve got ideas running all the time and I might jot some things down, but you have to use a different part of your brain for the marketing side of things and when I’m in the middle of that stuff I find it hard to be inspired. I don’t beat myself up about it, though. That’s just my process. Every writer has their own.
What advice do you have for writers just starting out?
I’m just starting out! I don’t know what advice I would have that’s any different from anyone else. If you want to write, the most important thing is to sit down and write. It also helps to start with a story that means something to you. When the hard writing days come, and they will, knowing you care passionately about your book’s message does help pull you through.
When will your next book be released?
Book 4 will be released September 14, 2017.
What is your favorite donut?
I love blueberry cake donuts! I don’t discriminate, though. I love pretty much everything but jelly donuts.
Who do you fangirl over?
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Tana French, Ann Patchett, Aziz Ansari and any author I meet in person!
First concert you attended? Favorite concert?
First: The Wallflowers; Favorite: Travis (I surprised Justin with tickets and we went with our best friends.)
How do you pronounce your last name?
Schlicher is pronounced Sh-lick-er.
Want to know more? Check out this author interview with Kristen Rose Reads!