Good morning, chowhounds! It’s Friday, which means it’s time for another Starving Review but, before we get to it, let’s step into literary chef Lynn Vroman‘s kitchen to get a peek into the mind behind today’s meal, Tainted Energy!
- Please introduce yourself to my literary foodies!
Hi, Everyone! Thanks for having me, J.B.! My name is Lynn Vroman, and I’m a young adult writer of both speculative fiction and contemporary.
- Do you do any work outside of the writing kitchen? Any non-work interests?
Well, I have four kids, ranging from ages 7-19, and husband to keep me busy, but outside of them? Man, I wish I could say I run marathons and am an amateur gourmet chef. Can I still say that even if not? I spend my days writing and my nights with the family, though they might disagree with me, especially when I’m in the middle of a project.
- What is your latest dish to be served up? Are there any past pieces of literary cuisine you think we should take a bite out of?
I just handed in the last book of The Energy Series to my editor, and now I’m working on little projects here and there. Having spent almost five years mainly writing the series, I’m excited to venture into new worlds and explore other characters, so we’ll see which project wins most of my attention. As for other books, three of the four books from The Energy Series, Tainted Energy, Lost Energy, and Fractured Energy, are out now, and I have a YA LGBT contemporary, Summer Confessions, out, as well.
- What made you want to put on the chef’s hat and whip up your own books?
I’ve always loved to write, since junior high—a long, long time ago. During college, I focused on short stories and flash fiction, and about six years ago, I gravitated toward novel writing. As for where I found my passion, I guess I would have to give most of that credit to my dad. We always had books in our house, and he always had a book in his hand while stressing the importance of reading. He even attempted his own novel, I remember, while raising four kids and working as a policeman. His passion was such an inspiration to me.
- Do you have a genre of specialty or do you dabble? Why?
I like to explore certain genres, hone my craft. If I had to pick a favorite, it would have to be contemporary, as you get to spend so much time with characterization, really dig deep into the psyche. Fantasy and science fiction are great, and I truly love them, but with contemporary, it’s all about the character for me.
- Style! Every literary chef aspires to have their own unique one! What do you think sets yours apart and why?
I honestly don’t know what sets me apart from others, or rather makes me unique amongst the masses. I can say that as much as I love lyrical prose, I wouldn’t classify my style as such. I try to find out who my characters are, and since many of my characters are blunt and flawed, I believe my style emulates that bluntness.
- Even the best of us find inspiration is the dishes of others. Do you have any literary inspirations, heroes, and influences?
So, so many! I could take pages to answer this question! But to spare you my ramblings, I’ll just name a couple. First, my literary hero is James Baldwin. His prose sings, plain and simple! His voice is so fluid and flawless, and when he weaves a story, it’s subtle and completely gut wrenching. He was a writer way before his time. When I read Giovanni’s Room, it had such a profound impact on me. Such a bold, gorgeous story!
Another influence I would have to name is Thomas Paine. He wasn’t a novelist, but how he wrote his essays and the wording he used to inspire was brilliant. “Common Sense” and “Age of Reason” are two pieces I keep on my kindle at all times.
- Let’s get into the meat and potatoes: the art and craft of writing itself! Do you have a preference of points-of-view when you write?
I can say there are points-of-view I’m most comfortable with, mainly first-person past tense, but I like to experiment with POV. I guess it depends on the character and how I hear him/her in my head. There are certain points-of-view I avoid, such as third omniscient, mainly because it’s tricky to pull off correctly.
- Sparse or wordy, how do you like your descriptions served up? Are you a Hemmingway man or do you like some saucy adjectives with your nouns?
I love Hemingway, especially his short stories. “Hills like White Elephants” is just perfect! A whole story in dialogue? Genius. As for my style, I do tend to avoid a lot of adjectives, and adverbs are absolutely avoided if possible. As I grow as a writer, I’ve been working on strengthening my style, using Hemingway as an example. I think many of us, when we start writing, are drawn toward those purple prose, with adjective after adjective of description. It’s definitely not wrong per se, just something I try not to do.
- Picking off the menu of base literary conflicts, what’s your favorite and why?
Man vs self I think is my favorite conflict. I love to see how a character can overcome his/her own issues and how they grow—or don’t—through adversity.
- What do you think is more important to your recipes, plot or characterization? Why?
Characterization, definitely! Of course the plot is important, but it’s the characters readers fall in love with or begin to hate or become frustrated with. I love exploring characters and their flaws, and digging deep to see what they’re made of. In my humble opinion, you can have the best premise ever, but if you have flat characters, no one will want to come along for the ride.
- We all know that the first taste means the most! What do you do to get that first bite hook with your readers?
This is so tough! It shouldn’t be, but it is. The best I can say is that I start books with the inciting incident, no beating around the bush. I introduce the main characters, put them right in the scene, and let them get to it. And it’s all about that first line! It’s gotta be good.
- The most important of questions: Cake or pie?
Hands down, pie. Blackberry, to be exact.
- Finally, if you could give one piece of advice to aspiring literary chefs out there, what would it be?
Read! All the time! And most importantly, never let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. Writing is a practiced skill, and we all are constantly growing, even the greats. If you don’t get it right the first time, just keep going because you WILL succeed.