What was your inspiration for writing Drawing Breath?
One of my husband’s friends, and a good friend of mine, lived into his thirties with cystic fibrosis. He was one of my heroes. Not just because he had a serious disease to manage, but for the way he lived his life. He just…lived his life. He did what he loved without complaint, with passion and gratitude. He inspired me to do the same. He’d probably shake his head if he knew I said that, or if he knew I’d written this book. He’d tell me to stop talking about heroes and get back to work.
Who is your favorite character in Drawing Breath and why? How did you come up with this character?
I love Daniel. Like my friend (yes, I originally based the character on him, but changed many things about him), he wants to pursue his art and live as normal and independent a life as he can. He’s flawed and human and so worthy of the love he thinks he can do without.
How long did it take you to write this book? Did you feel like giving up anywhere along the way?
It took me about two years to write the first draft of Drawing Breath. I never really felt like giving up, but some of the feedback I received from early beta readers, including my husband (it was the first book I’d let him read), was discouraging. My husband thought I was too close to the subject matter. One beta reader, who has read pretty much all of my novels in their early stages, insisted it was YA, but I never thought so. A coming of age story, for both characters, but not quite YA. Because of this, and distraction by other projects, I let the manuscript sit for a few years. When I came back to it, I saw exactly what needed to be done. Letting a manuscript “compost” for a while can be a great help.
What type of writer are you? Do you prefer to create a detailed outline, write by the seat of your pants or something in-between?
I write by the seat of my pants on the first draft. Just write it out until the story is told, in whatever order the characters present it to me. Then I’ll outline, do a scene inventory, see where holes need to be filled in.
How did you come up with the title of your book?
It came at me when I first started writing. Artists. Cystic fibrosis. Drawing Breath. It was perfectly perfect.
If you had any advice for new writers, what would it be?
Don’t stop. If this is your passion, keep at it. Keep writing. Keep learning. Know you might suck at it for a while. Then it gets better. Every great writer you’ve read once had to learn the alphabet and learn how to put together sentences, too.