Meet Steph Bowe, contemporary YA teen novelist. Steph, who currently lives in Australia, published her debut novel Girl Saves Boy in 2010 and recently released her newest novel, All This Could End, in February 2013 (both Text Publishing). I am a fan of Steph’s fabulous blog, Hey! Teenager of the Year, which eventually led to this interview. I have certainly learned much from Steph, so I hope you can, too. In this interview, Steph talks about her newest novel, her writing habits, and her blog. For more info about Steph Bowe, visit her website.
*I asked Steph so many questions I decided to break the interview into 2 parts.
What is a brief synopsis of All This Could End and how is it similar/different than your first published novel Girl Saves Boy?
All This Could End is about a teenage girl who accidentally takes a boy she knows hostage in a bank robbery. It’s about family, and realising your parents aren’t always right, especially if they’re crazed criminals. It’s very, very different plotwise to Girl Saves Boy, though it is also character-driven and ultimately about growing up and figuring out who you are and where you belong.
What was your greatest challenge while writing All This Could End?
Not allowing self-doubt to get to me! And during the editorial process, trying to figure out the right way to end the novel, and the right way to order events (general structure overall changed around a lot through the revision process).
After you finished your first book, did you feel pressure writing a second? Is each novel you write easier to complete or more difficult to complete?
I don’t think I’ve written enough novels to say whether it gets easier or harder, but I certainly know writing the second novel was a lot more challenging, but not because of any external pressures – just the knowledge that other people would definitely read my novel, and that it had to measure up to the first novel, made the process trickier and resulted in a lot of self-doubt.
Do you use a certain program to write? (Have you heard of Scrivener?)
I have heard of Scrivener, but I use plain old Microsoft Word. (Plus lots of notebooks for getting ideas down!)
What is your writing process like, and how do you motivate yourself to write consistently?
To motivate myself to write consistently, I remind myself how much better I feel having written something – it’s difficult to get started, but once I’m in the midst of writing it’s fun. My writing process involves lots of thinking over a plot before I start writing, writing scenes out of order (all the exciting bits first), taking lots of notes and adding in lines, reading and rereading scenes I’ve already written before continuing to write, and eventually filling up all the spaces and having a finished first draft! And then, editing. Which is very, very tricky.
Are you a fan of sharing what you’ve written during the “early stages,” and asking for advice? If so, who has the privilege of reading your first drafts?
I don’t tend to let anyone read anything I’ve written until I’ve finished at least a first draft. The first people who get to read a new manuscript are my grandparents. I won’t look for critical advice until about the second draft.
Why does it take so much longer to revise and edit than it does to write a book?
I think because writing is a lot more fun, and you can switch off your inner editor. The editing part is the part where you question everything and have to work out how to make it better, rather than just expressing raw creativity and imagination.
You finished your first novel when you were 14, before your publication of Girl Saves Boy. What was your immediate reaction? What was your next step?
I was pretty pleased with myself! (Though Girl Saves Boy was the third full novel I wrote.) The first thing I did after finishing it was send it out to writer friends to get some feedback on it before I submitted it to publishers.