Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester welcomes one of our own, T.J. Wooldridge, for an Author Spotlight blog celebrating the release of her second children’s novel, Silent Starsong. Besides helping out ABSW as an events coordinator, “Trish” is an author, an editor, and current president of Broad Universe, an organization dedicated to promoting, supporting, and celebrating women who write science fiction, fantasy, and horror.
For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write? What can readers expect from Silent Starsong?
Whether it’s for adults or children, I tend to write dark. I like to say T.J. Wooldridge is my child-friendly persona, but even my children’s books are dark. My first novel, The Kelpie, featured a child-eating faery horse. Silent Starsong deals with the abuse of people with disabilities and who are “different” from cultural norms—as well as including intergalactic terrorists and some of the things we wish children didn’t have to deal with.
But children do deal with some heavy things. Fiction gives us a tool to mental deal with painful and difficult things in real life while we’re still safely in only living in the pages. All of my favorite-of-all-time books did that for me when I was in grammar, middle, and junior high school.
Hopefully the characters I created to travel through their difficult times are as good friends to my readers a Susan, Lucy, Meg, and so many others were to me.
What character did you love or hate the most while writing? And why?
My favorite character is actually the character most people also love the most: Marne. Marne is a small, smart-mouthed, pink alien who ends up becoming Kyra’s best friend.
His short back-story is that his pink color identified him as weak in his telepathic and telekinetic abilities, so he was sold into slavery. Kyra’s father bought him as a tutor for Kyra to help her communicate better since there is a severe lack of (read as NONE WHATSOEVER) support for the deaf in Kyra’s culture. In each other, they recognized the pain of being rejected, and their friendship grew from that.
Marne’s most native language is sarcasm; it’s a defense mechanism for not letting his spirit be utterly broken by the awful circumstances he’s had to endure. I had a lot of fun in the scenes I wrote in his point of view. Also, in the scenes where Kyra, without aural cues and with a genuinely trusting nature, doesn’t get his sarcasm. One of my favorite exchanges between them is when Kyra is bringing him food and got in trouble for feeding him “too much” when the family money was tight.
~So you made [your mother] angry beause you care whether I starve or not. What else?~
[Kyra] grimaced and changed to mindspeak. ~You know I hate that thing you do that isn’t a lie or truth but something else that doesn’t make sense!!
~Sarcasm? Cyicism? General mistrust of anyone except you…and maybe Alyce?~
~I don’t know those first two words, but probably that. You need to stop being that all the time!~
~I’ll work on it…~
Also, the fact he’s cute, little, and pink helps. My awesome editor, Jenn Carson, made a stuffie version of him that I got to hug for a whole two minutes before returning him to a prize basket my publisher had at Book Expo America.
What are some of your writing-related hobbies, crafts, addictions?
One of my real-life superpowers is to make everything writing related. I love my horse and trail riding; my other children’s book series includes lots of equestrian stuff and horses. I like to draw and design; I made an illustrated chapbook. I like making jewelry; guess what sorts of promo I have?
I also love cooking and eating and drinking. Before I sold any fiction, I was writing for food magazines and all that research gets rolled into fiction, too.
Hiking is a lot of fun. So are the images and memories for making any outdoor scenes real.
I read Tarot cards, and have done so for almost 15 years. You know what’s also great tool for when you’re stuck on a plot point or something? Pull a Tarot card!
I love going to Goth clubs and following particular bands. At Wiscon this year, I pulled the topic “Goth Club at the Crossroads” for a writing assignment. (Okay, I already had fiction that fit that, too…)
While you’re writing, do you prefer music, silence, other? Please elaborate!
MUSIC!! And I’m still “old school” (snerk!) with CDs. Currently in the player are the soundtrack to Disney’s Brave, The Crüxshadows’ The Dark Against my Halo, La Oreja De Van Gogh’s Díle el Sol, The Kongos’ Lunatic, and 5 Finger Death Punch’s Wrong side of Heaven, Righteous Side of Hell Volume 1. While I was writing and editing Silent Starsong, I also had in the soundtracks to Firefly and Serenity.
If I’m not home, I can usually work in coffeeshops and busy cafes because they often have background music or, at the very least, the buzz of people around me.
I am not a fan of working in silence. My mind wanders too much and I feel unfocused.
What else can we expect from you in the near future?
My second novel in the MacArthur Family Chronicles series, the one that started with The Kelpie, is set to come out in December. And my sequel to Silent Starsong is being read by my editor now. *fingers crossed*
Are there any groups, clubs, or organizations that you would recommend to other writers that have helped you in your career?
Well, I’m president of Broad Universe because I truly believe in that organization. The vast majority of all my publishing credits would NEVER have happened had I not met people through this amazing group. Definitely go check it out!
Besides Broad Universe, I’m also a long-time member of the New England Horror Writers, who have helped through all sorts of networking and support and become people I consider good friends over the years.
I’m also a member of Worcester Writers Collaborative, another wonderfully supportive networking group for people in and around Worcester—no matter what you write, no matter how you publish.
How can we follow your work, share your awesomeness, or otherwise stalk you in a totally non-creepy way?
My website: www.anovelfriend.com
My Facebook: www.facebook.com/NovelFriend
My (rarely used) Twitter: @NovelFriend
Or find me at a convention or conference. :)
Thank you , Trish, for being a guest on the Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester Author Spotlight!
Thank you for having me!