Young adult novelist Liza Wiemer returns to Write On, Door County February 26 – March 6 for a residency. Liza has conducted a number of programs for Write On, primarily for youth. We are excited to have her return and lead a day-long writing workshop for adults who want to write fiction for young adults. She’ll also be leading a program for young people through the Exposure to Creativity program with Gibraltar School and The Hardy Gallery. Write On had an opportunity to catch up with Liza on what she’s been doing since her last visit.
Write On: What is your hometown?
Liza Wiemer: Milwaukee, WI, but whenever I’m in Door County, I feel like I’ve come home.
WO: What author or book has most influenced your own writing?
LW: Gayle Forman, author of If I Stay and Where She Went, told me to dig deep, then deeper. That had a profound impact on my writing. MIT professor and author Laura Harrington, who wrote Alice Bliss, taught me how critical it is to interview every character. That advice transformed my writing.
WO: How would you describe your writing discipline?
LW: Let me preface my answer by saying that it’s important for everyone to find his or her own writing process. What’s successful for one person won’t work for another, but trying out new methods and adding to our skills is always helpful. I’ve rarely met anyone who’s writing journey didn’t hit bumps along the way.
When I’m in writing mode, I immerse myself in my characters’ lives, first by asking questions and writing answers in a notebook. I also visit the settings for my novel and/or do my research. I write, write, write. Then edit. I also visualize scenes before I get in front of the computer. I will “talk” through a scene, picturing what will happen, imagining the dialogue, setting, conflict, and resolution. I approach the process as a challenge to bring the reader into the lives of these characters. There are days it’s so hard, I question myself, but I always come to the table. New York Times bestselling author, Lauren Oliver once told me the only thing harder than writing, is not writing. I’ve felt this way, but I’ve also experienced the intense joy that comes from a small victory, like finding the right word. It’s important to celebrate those moments. Perseverance is my mantra.
WO: What writing project are you currently working on?
LW: I have several in the works, including another young adult novel that in the querying stage. I HOPE YOU FORGIVE ME is a new website I started with my elder son, which I plan to turn into a non-fiction book for teens.
WO: What can people taking your upcoming class on writing fiction for young adults expect?
LW: An environment that highly supportive and encouraging. An overview of the publishing process and the steps they need to take. Whether the participant is just starting a YA novel or is in the editing process, we’ll discuss how to hook the reader from the first paragraph. We will talk about key elements for writing a novel for teens, including setting, authentic voice, plot, inclusion and diversity. We’ll go through the dos and don’ts in writing a novel.