• Q&A With WriteByNight Consultant Stephanie True Peters

     

    Stephanie True Peters (Mansfield, Massachusetts) is the author of Groundbreaking Guys: 40 Men Who Became Great by Doing Good, which Amazon selected as a Best Children’s Book: Nonfiction in 2019. Other recent titles include Superpower Dogs: Henry, Avalanche Rescue Dog and Halo, Disaster Response Dog, which highlight the subjects of the popular IMAX movie of the same name. During her twenty-five-year publishing career, she’s worked with Disney/Hyperion, Disney Worldwide, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, Capstone Press, Simon and Schuster, and Dutton. Her books explore everything from pandemics and princesses to sports and swamp creatures. An avid reader and firm believer that our words and actions matter, Stephanie lives with her husband, two cats, and two rabbits in Massachusetts.

     

    Where are you from?

    I was born and raised in Massachusetts and currently reside south of Boston.

     

    Where did you study?

    I earned a BA in history from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, but my editing and publishing education came on the job at Little, Brown Children’s Books. I am a self-taught writer.

     

    How did you get your start as a writer?

    In 1998, I was a children’s book editor at Little, Brown when they decided to move the bulk of their operations from Boston to New York City. My husband and I had just started our family, so instead of uprooting, I made the jump from full-time editor to freelance editor, writer, and ghostwriter. I’ve been freelancing ever since (shout out to my husband for his amazing support!).

     

    Who are some of your influences?

    Jane Austen, because of her amazing female characters, her dry humor, and oh, yes…the swoon-worthy romance. Laura Ingalls Wilder, because she transformed her life into beautifully rendered stories of yesteryear—and because I couldn’t wait to see Nellie Olsen get her comeuppance. Rick Riordan, because his modern take on different mythologies is so cool, and because his imprint, Rick Riordan Presents, supports writers of diverse backgrounds. Aesop, because his fables have endured for millennia, proving that simple language used brilliantly can pack a lasting punch. Dave Barry, because his essays make me laugh until I cry (I am not making this up).

     

    What is the hardest part of writing for you?

    It’s challenging for me to accept that something I’ve written—a scene, a character, dialogue—just isn’t working, and that to move forward, I need to scrap it and start over. It’s also frustrating when inspiration hits when I’m least able to commit the idea to paper!

     

    What is your strangest writing experience?

    Recently, I took part in a group writing exercise with a roomful of strangers. The instructor gave us a list of prompts, invited us to create a scene using the words, then set her phone to play soft instrumental background music. To be honest, I was skeptical that I’d gain anything from the experience. But to my surprise and delight, words started flowing freely from my mind to my pad of paper. My scene was nothing spectacular; losing myself in the act of writing was.

     

    What’s the last book you read and what did you think of it?

    I just finished reading Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple. The story unfolds through the characters’ e-mail exchanges, letters, voicemail transcripts, police reports, psychiatric evaluations, and the like. I’ve always been drawn to this voyeuristic approach and thought Semple used the device masterfully, with each character’s voice, inner turmoil, and motivations coming through loud and clear. Unusual settings, such as a rundown former school for girls turned private home and a cruise ship in the Antarctic, added to the book’s quirky appeal. That the conflicts didn’t wrap up with a neat and tidy ending felt realistic and poignant.

     

    Any words of wisdom for aspiring writers?

    Creativity can’t be forced. If you’re staring in frustration at the blank page or screen, take a break from writing and do something completely different. Movement helps jump-start my brainwaves, so I’ll take a walk or clean a room or hit the gym.

    You can also try doing a “brain dump.” Write down everything that’s on your mind—your grocery list, a joke, a conversation you overheard, a description of someone you love (or hate!), a problem you solved. Clearing out the clutter can make room for new ideas to grow. And who knows, you might even find inspiration somewhere in the clutter!

     

    Interested in working with Stephanie? Request a free consult now




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