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Mindy Mejia is a fiction writer, finance manager, weekend jogger, wife, and mother of two. She writes what she likes to read––contemporary, plot-driven novels that deliver both entertainment and substance.

Mindy Mejia was born and raised in a small-town-turned-suburb in the Twin Cities area. She received a BA from the University of Minnesota and an MFA from Hamline University. Other than brief interludes in Iowa City and Galway, she’s lived and worked in Minnesota her entire life.

Mindy focuses her fiction writing on novels, though she also writes short stories, which have appeared in rock, paper, scissors; Things Japanese: An Anthology of Short Stories; and THIS Literary Magazine.

Everything You Want Me to Be is her latest novel from ATRIA Books, an Imprint of Simon & Schuster. Be sure also to check out her debut novel, The Dragon Keeper. Learn more about Mindy at MindyMejia.com.

Question:

 

Answer:

1. Do you write an outline before you start a novel? If yes, how detailed is your outline?

 

I don’t outline. My first draft process is more like exploring a new world. I can see the horizon and I follow the story where it leads, which might be somewhere different than I expected to go. Once the first draft is finished and I understand the story I’m trying to tell, I approach revision with more attention to architecture. I’ve created the map at that point.

2. Do you edit and proofread your own work at all or do you just write it and hand it off to an editor?

 

Must, must, must edit and proofread. Ultimately my name is on the cover and I take responsibility for the story inside. I don’t want to hand anything off to an editor until I’ve revised to the point where I need a fresh set of eyes. 

3. How do you work with an editor without pride making a guest appearance like Jack Nicholson in The Shining?

 

The most important thing is to have an editor who wants to tell the same story as you. As long as my editor and I agree on the general narrative structure, POV, and themes, I’m willing to change up just about anything else as long as it serves the story. That being said, there’s always about a dozen sentences in each book that I jealously guard and will defend to the point of a Kung Fu death match. Luckily, no such death match has yet occurred.

4. What is the most difficult part by far about your craft? What's the one thing about being an author you wish you did not have to do?

 

The most difficult part is finding the time to do it. No one in my life has ever said to me, “Why don’t you go write now? I’ll take care of this (insert task) you were doing for me.” Because so much of writing happens internally and it doesn’t take the form of a standard office job, it becomes challenging to carve out and defend from the rest of my life.

5. On the flip side, what is the best part about what you do––that one thing that makes the answer to that last question worth every minute?

 

The best part is when I’ve slipped away into the world I’m dreaming and everything starts to come together. I finally understand where the narrative is going, the characters arcs are illuminated, and the themes begin teasing their way to the forefront. It’s a transformative feeling, and highly addictive.

6. Why do you think your books are so successful?

 

I’m a plot junkie, so for me suspense is key. I always do at least one revision of every book purely for suspense. To break that down, I’ll read the entire manuscript in terms of questions. What questions are raised in this chapter? What questions are answered? Ideally the answers themselves create bigger, more compelling questions. The “suspense revision” is all about rate of revelation and how the stakes increase. It’s one of the best ways I know to embed that page-turning quality into the narrative.

7. Please explain to aspiring authors and booksellers just how much work is required, even as a traditionally published bestselling author, to maintain your level of success?

 

This is a job like any other, and the actual writing is only a piece of it. Every author, no matter how they’re published, must find their audience. This is no small task considering the wealth of books being released both traditionally and through other channels. A few of my non-writing writerly jobs: I maintain an online presence through various social media formats and my website so readers can connect with me on the internet. I network with other authors and bookstores through various in person and virtual events. I monitor new releases and reading trends to stay current on the market and literary environment, and I try to support fellow writers and promote their work whenever I can. These are all periphery items to the actual writing, but they can make a huge difference when it comes to marketing and selling your books. Of course it doesn’t hurt to have a phenomenal publicist in your corner, too.

 

Thank you for reading!