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! Charlotte Bronte is a recent one. I finally read Jane Eyre and that book is now one of my favorites of all time. Her writing just spoke to my heart. Her characters were so rich and beautiful. I just loved it all! Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane is also one of my favorites. The way he creates that world is truly inspiring. Ann Patchett’s Commonwealth is a recent one. That book is perfection!
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.
I wrote The Blue Jay on my living room floor. Now, I have a desk. I like my desk.
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.
What do you love most about writing?
What I love most about writing is that it provides a break from the checklist. Life, at times, can feel like an endless checklist. Do your homework. Get a degree. And a job. Buy groceries. Pay bills. Get married. Start a family. Shoot, don’t forget to clean the house. Save money. Spend more time outside. And so on and so on. These are important things. Valuable things. But they can weigh you down at times and make you feel like you’re never reaching your destination. With writing, you can create whatever world you want and live in it for a while, without worrying about your own checklist. It’s very freeing. And sure, as each book comes to an end, you have to say goodbye to that world and go back to wondering if you’re doing your life right. But you can always revisit that other world, or create something else completely new, and there’s something very comforting in that for me. When I came back to writing, after letting it fall away for quite a while, I realized I needed this outlet more than I knew. I think everyone has a passion like that for something and it’s important that we don’t forget to nurture it.
When will your next book be released?
Book 4 will be released at the end of September 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.)
Donuts, sushi, taco pizza
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!