Karen Autio

Children’s Author | Editor | Presenter

"My Writing Process" Blog Tour Post

Thank you, Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch, for inviting me to be a part of the "My Writing Process" blog tour. Marsha is well-known for her award-winning historical fiction and non-fiction and for encouraging writers to grow their craft. One way she does this—and how we met years ago—is through the online critique group Private Kidcrit which she hosts. Recent honours for Marsha's books include the Silver Birch Non-Fiction Thunder Bay Regional Award for One Step at a Time: A Vietnamese Child Finds Her Way, the BC Red Cedar Award for Last Airlift: A Vietnamese Orphan's Rescue from War and the Ontario Silver Birch Award for Making Bombs for Hitler. Her book Underground Soldier is the just-published companion novel to Making Bombs for Hitler. You'll find her writing process blog tour post on her website: www.calla.com

Now it's my turn to talk about my writing process:

What are you working on?

I have two work hats, one labelled "Freelance Editor" and the other "Children's Author." Right now I'm editing a children's fantasy manuscript—fun! In my writing, I'm working on the final revisions to an early chapter book manuscript while I await editorial direction for my picture book Growing Up in Wild Horse Canyon. It's been accepted for publication by Sono Nis Press and the story explores in a unique way the history of where I live in the Okanagan Valley, B.C. I'm also constantly researching and tucking bits of fascinating history away in idea folders for future books.

How does your work differ from others of its genre?

I mainly write historical fiction and in that genre I focus on parts of Canada's history that haven't had much attention. In my trilogy of novels, I also incorporated specific aspects of my family history (e.g. my grandmother's tuberculosis sanatorium experience in Saara's Passage) and general Finnish culture.

Why do you write what you do?

I love researching history (especially little-known events or topics) and transforming the facts from the past into an engaging story for young readers. I'm passionate about the value of family stories and heritage and preserving these in some format. Themes important to me recur in my writing, such as faith, purpose, hope in the face of tragedy, persistence, and reconciliation.

How does your writing process work?

Once I have the germ of an idea for a book, such as a Finnish immigrant family travelling on the ill-fated final voyage of the Empress of Ireland for my novel Second Watch, I immerse myself in that time period. For learning about 1914, I read books, newspapers, primary documents, and websites; studied maps, photographs, catalogues, and the Henderson Directory; interviewed people old enough to remember life then; watched films from that time; and visited the setting for my book. While outlining a book, often plot points will come to light as I research, such as from newspapers, e.g. episodes of The Girl Detective silent moving picture shows played a role in my latest book Sabotage.

The hardest parts of my writing process are to stop doing the research and start writing, and to discern which bits to keep in the story. I always have far more information than can possibly be used in one book. Once I've pushed through and have a first draft, I'll spend time revising until I'm ready for critiques. Then I'll ask my writers' group to review my manuscript. After revising based on their insightful suggestions, I'll ask a local teacher-librarian to recommend student editors from my target audience to give me feedback by reading and marking up my manuscript. More revisions follow (working on draft 12, at least!) until I'm finally ready to hand it over to my publisher.

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog tour post! Next Monday, May 19, Loraine Kemp and Rie Charles will be posting:

Loraine Kemp (www.LoraineKemp.com) is an award-winning middle grade/YA writer who is represented by Karen Ball of The Steve Laube Agency. She is also an artist and has illustrated Lyn Hancock's children's book Tabasco the Saucy Raccoon. Her YA fantasy novel, Orion's Sword, is currently being considered by Zondervan and it is her dream to be published by them and to also illustrate the book. (www.facebook.com/lorainekempartist)

L Kemp

Rie Charles (www.riecharles.com) is the author of two books for young readers. No More Dragons, which received the Ontario Library Association Best Bet Award for 2011, explores issues of bullying and abuse and A Hole in My Heart (to be released in September 2014) is about grieving and loss. She is collaborating with the artist Marilyn Dyer on a picture book called Tattoo: The Painted Horse also expected to be out in September (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tattoo-the-Painted-Horse/310094455809865).

R Charles