Ultimate YA is an organization that promotes young adult literature (YA lit) and reading. We feature one YA lit author per month. Each feature includes a short bio of the author, as well as fun facts and an interview. If you would like to be featured, please send an email inquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition to our features, we post quotes and memes of the week that relate to books, writing, and/or reading on Tuesdays and Thursdays, respectively. We also post anything else that we find interesting regarding reading and writing.
7. Did you ever run into challenges or writer’s block when it came to writing the more intense scenes of Katana, like the ultimate fight scene near the end?
It’s so funny that you would ask that because endings are the hardest part for me to write. Despite being an outliner, I usually don’t have a clear idea on how to end my books until I’m actually writing the scene, allowing it to unfold to me as it happens. With this said, in order to keep from getting writer’s block, I use the Write or Die software on my laptop to keep me plugging away.
8. Rileigh struggles a lot with her identity. Is there a particular idea about identity that you hope your readers will take away? Or any other messages?
I struggled a lot with my own identity when I was a teenager. There was a negative influence in my life who loved to tell me how stupid I was and how I would never amount to anything. At one point, I started to believe it. But after venturing out on my own, I realized how wrong that person was about me. I think it’s important for teens to realize that just because someone says, “This is who you are. This is what you’ll do,” that doesn’t make it true. The only one who can choose your path is you, because you’re the one who has to walk it.
9. What do you find to be the hardest part of writing?
For me, the hardest part of writing is overcoming my own self doubt. I have a pretty negative internal editor who loves to tell me that I’m writing crap. The hard part is tuning that editor out so I can write uninterrupted.
10. What do you like most about writing?
Again—and this is just me—writing is incredibly therapeutic. I can’t imagine what I’d be like if I couldn’t let the voices out of my head.
11. What are your writing plans for the future?
I just turned in KATANA’s sequel to my editor which leaves me free to work on a brand new shiny idea. *rubs hands together eagerly*
12. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
The most important thing is to finish your book. When writing a first draft the important thing to keep in mind is quantity over quality. Don’t worry about editing until after the book is finished, otherwise you might find yourself getting discouraged and not finishing your book.
1. When did you know you wanted to write?
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. It started out in grade school as Little Mermaid fanfic. In high school I penned some really atrocious poetry. But it wasn’t until my twenties that I attempted my first novel. I think I put it off for so long because not only am I dyslexic, but I had a pretty negative person in my life while I was growing up, and I was convinced I wasn’t smart enough to write a novel. It wasn’t until my business went under and, faced with unemployment, I decided to pursue my dream.
2. Do you relate to any of your characters? How? If not, who is your favorite character and why?
I do. Braden—while not a main character—is my favorite because I based him off of my husband. He’s funny, goofy, and at times a little oblivious. (Authors note: If you’re reading this, Babe, I love you!!!)
3. Do you have any martial arts experience?
Yes! I haven’t taken classes since I was pregnant, but before I’ve dabbled in karate, tae chi, taekwondo, and (my absolute favorite) kickboxing.
4. There are a lot of fight scenes in Katana. Did you have to any research to learn about samurais and martial arts in order to write those scenes?
I did. I read so many books and watched so many documentaries to better understand the history of samurai. And, because KATANA is a fantasy, what I learned I used to flavor the building of my own unique world. But because I wanted the fight scenes to be accurate, I enlisted the help of one of my husband’s friends who is a martial arts instructor. He and my husband choreographed several of the fight scenes in KATANA. There’s a video of him helping me the squeegee scene here: http://youtube./1NjszcnCZPM
5. I noticed that in your fun facts you say you bumped into Quentin Tarantino, and in your book Rileigh’s best friend is named Quentin. Coincidence? Do you ever pull elements from your own life and put them in your writing?
Ha! You caught me. I love to sneak in funny conversations that I’ve had with my friends as well as some of the funny situations I’ve found myself in.
6. Rileigh and Quentin, or Ri-Ri and Q, have a very close friendship. Do you have a best friend like Q?
Quentin was inspired by a friend of mine who is a mail carrier by day and a gorgeous diva drag queen at night. While we’re friends, I based Rileigh and Quentin’s relationship of my friend’s relationship with his sister. Their relationship and closeness is something I’ve always envied and I thought, if Rileigh isn’t going to have a lot of friends, she should at least have one amazing one.
1. I am double jointed and can twist both arms around so that my elbows face front. My husband loves it. Okay, it slightly grosses him out.
2. For my day job, I work as a professional dog trainer specializing in behavior modification. In the past, I’ve trained dogs for both the police and military.
3. I don’t have an appendage on my body that hasn’t been stitched or stapled (see fun fact #2.)
4. I think Gobstoppers candy should be an acceptable form of payment…but then I’d eat all my money. Never mind.
5. I bumped into (literally) Quentin Tarantino in Las Vegas. Or, rather, because I’m 5’ 1” and he’s like 12’ something, I should say I bumped into his knee.
6. My favorite place to vacation is Disney World.
7. I really want a Ford Fiesta because I think they look like frogs. Adorable.
Cole Gibsen may be in her thirties, but that doesn’t stop her from watching My Little Ponies Friendship is Magic, reading comic books, or eating frozen yogurt for lunch. She believes you don’t stop playing because you’ve grown old, but that you grow old when you stop playing.