Every Friday, I’m going to be doing interviews with my favorite creative people. From the full-time musicians to the receptionists who crochet to the hustling freelance writers and everyone in between.
Starting us out is an interview with Carrie Jones. In addition to being the New York Times Bestselling Author of the young adult Need series (which I binge read/listened to in like a week), she is also teaching a course I’m taking at The Writing Barn right now called Write. Submit. Support. I am having an amazing time in the class, and she is one of the most supportive, helpful teachers/mentors I’ve ever had. (The Writing Barn is doing another session with her July through December of this year if any of you young adult or middle grade writers are interested. I highly recommend it!)
So here you go, everyone! A creativity interview with Carrie Jones!
Carrie Jones is the The New York Times bestseller author of the Need series, Time Stoppers series, Flying series, Girl, Hero, Tips on Having a Gay (ex) Boyfriend, and Love (and other uses for duct tape). She is also the coauthor, with Steve Wedel, of After Obsession and Summer Howl. She also writes picture books about unconventional spies. Her books have been published all around the world, been bestsellers in France (thank you, France), and have received numerous awards.
What is your main form of creative expression?
Other than just living because I think that’s my main form of creative expression? You know, trying to create a life that’s full of meaning and possibility and isn’t just bland and blank?
It’s writing and sometimes painting and sometimes singing in the shower. I know! It sounds sort of silly, but if we think of creative expression as a tool that helps personalize abstractions then all of those things weave into each other during the course of my day.
Do you work as an artist/creative full-time or do you have a different day job?
I am currently a full-time writer of books for teens and kids. I feel like I should cross my fingers about that because I am so glad about it. I also am a writing coach and I’m currently teaching a class at the Writing Barn.
How long have you been creating music/books/plays/films/etc.?
I’m not sure if there has ever been a time when I haven’t been exploring the world through creation. I would be five and coaxing my friends through revisionings of Scooby Doo episodes and Wizard of Oz. When I was born, they thought I was forever blind, but I wasn’t, but I couldn’t really see until an operation when I was a year old. My mom says that I would spend all my time vocalizing. She never knew a baby who wouldn’t stop creating sounds.
They thought I’d be a singer.
They thought wrong.
But I did become a writer professionally and I guess the first time I really thought about writing as creation for fun and exploration was when I was in fourth grade and wrote my older brother an extended Star Trek fanfiction starring me.
Spoiler alert: I die at the end so the universe could survive.
Second spoiler alert: Everyone fell in love with me and cried at my funeral, even Mr. Spock.
Sad truth: It turned out my brother hated Star Trek.
How do you handle the pressures of creativity being your job?
The hardest part is not knowing exactly when and if you’ll get paid. I try to take big breaths and be mellow about this. Sometimes I succeed.
Do you engage in any additional creative hobbies? Are there any you’d like to try?
I think of everything I do that’s creative as informing my life. I’m not sure if that makes sense, but I think of them as part of the process of writing and building worlds and living.
I would love to actually be able to play violin and to knit. I can’t knit. At all. People laugh when I try. It’s seriously bad.
Who are some other artists and creatives that inspire you to create?
Ack! This is so hard! Because it’s honestly everyone. And I’m more inspired by poets than novelists – That is if we’re going to create a hierarchy of inspiration. And I’m more inspired by artists than poets.
But the truth is I can be inspired by images in a country music video that I’m watching on mute, so I am inspired by anything.
Why do you create?
I don’t know how not to create, but that seems like a trite answer that’s not very deep – or maybe too deep?
I mean, we all have these ideologies, these truths, that resonate within us – things we want to explore, things we want to share with the world. For writers, artists, creators, we are incredibly lucky because we get to share those deeper ideologies and truths to the world.
I create specifically for teens and kids because they have so much sophistication and capacity and brilliance. They haven’t turned away from learning and that is so inspiring to me that it pushes me to be better in what I offer to them.
Their quest for knowledge hasn’t atrophied yet, and I create because I don’t want it to atrophy in me either. I want to be more like them that way.
What advice do you have for other creatives?
Oh whoa… Maybe that your life is a part of someone else’s history. Do your best to be the person you want to be. Eschew other people’s labels and expectations and live your biggest truths.
And maybe to cultivate thinkers instead of consumers.
Where can people find you and your work?
I have a blog here that I update every weekday. carriejonesbooks.blog
There are writing tips, life tips, a Tuesday podcast Dogs are Smarter Than People and a Thursday bit about Cooking With A Writer, which features vegetarian recipes because I’m trying to convince my husband that eating things without eyes is good.
And I have a regular website – carriejonesbooks.com
Whew. That was a lot.
Thanks for interviewing me, Sara! I feel really honored that you thought of me.
Thanks so much to Carrie for jumping in and being the first person to be interviewed! I really appreciate it. Everyone go buy her books. Or listen to her podcast. Or follow her on Twitter. Or all of the above! You won’t be disappointed!
And if you are interested in Write. Submit. Support with The Writing Barn, check out the free info session/preview happening on Monday, May 21! http://www.thewritingbarn.com/class/write-submit-support-free-info-inspiration-session/