Interview with Rosa Sophia, Writer and Auto-Mechanic
Twenty-year old Rosa Sophia has been writing since she learned how to spell her name and has no intention of stopping. Her interests include criminology and psychology. In addition, she plans to go to a school for auto-mechanics with a goal to restore antique and classic cars for resale. She also fantasizes about owning a bookstore in Portland, Maine and living on Cliff Island where one of her unfinished novels is set.
Is there anyone (a teacher? mentor?) that really helped you improve your writing?
There have been many people who have helped me — a couple of my teachers from Tinicum Art and Science, many of the people from the Fantasy Writers Wanted online group, and many of my friends. But very seldom my mother, who usually gives me funny looks when she reads my stories and says things like, “I don’t know, Rosa.” She’s very picky.
So your mother hasn’t really helped improve your writing it seems. Has she been supportive of this vein of your life since we know how often writers are scoffed at?
My mother has helped improve my writing in some ways. She kept telling me I was being too verbose and I finally admitted it to myself while I was still in high school. Either way, she’s always my last resort for editing. With relatives and friends, you always get extreme responses. Either they just tell you it’s “good” or they give you the kind of advice youÕre not really looking for. But my mom has always been there for me. That’s what’s important.
Is there anything (such as scheduling writing time) that helped you improve your writing?
Reading other writers helped. I wish I could meet Piers Anthony and tell him how much he inspired me to write and how amazing I think he is. I’ve been reading him since I was in middle school and I distinctly remember thinking, “I want to be as good as him!” James Richey also helped me, as did Terry Pratchett. I was privileged to meet James Richey online and his advice and editing contributions were always useful. As for scheduled writing time, there’s no such thing. I’ve heard some writers say that they can’t find the time to write, but what you have to do is make the time. To me, writing is one of the most important things in my life.
Do you think most writers feel that writing is one of the most important things in life? Do you think that for a writer to write really well she has to place writing as number one?
I think that if you want to be a great writer, you have to have confidence in what you do and you have to make time for it. It’s not a question of whether or not you “have” time; it’s a question of whether or not you’re willing to spend a lot of it honing your skills. I don’t think that most authors would have gotten very far had they not done everything they could to make time for their writing. One of my favorite authors went to work during the day and wrote during the night. You do what you have to do. When you have to write, you have to write. I have to write.
Have you always felt this intense about writing? Do you think you always will?
When I was eleven or twelve years old, I had one of those green-screen word processors. I thought it was the greatest thing I’d ever owned and with Piers Anthony as my inspiration, I started writing my first novel about a planet called “Krondalk II.” As far back as I can remember, I’ve always been telling myself stories. I can’t remember anything about my early elementary school days because I would completely zone out and spin yarns about my family being abducted by malicious ghosts and me going off to save them. There’s no way that I would ever change my mind about writing. It’s just what I do.
You mention that you want to go to a school for auto-mechanics — with writing as such an important part of your life, why did you choose this other interest as your profession?
I’m not completely sure what I want to do with my life. All I know is that I’m obsessed with cars and I love to write. To be honest, I think the main reason auto-mechanics became a career idea is because I want to write about a female mechanic. No matter what, I will take auto-mechanics classes so I can restore old cars, both antiques and classics. That’s a passion that’s almost equal in importance to writing.
What do you tend to find first inspires you to write a piece? (Like triggering of memories?)
It really depends. Oftentimes, walking helps. One of my novels, “Smile, America,” was inspired by a walk down Barndt Road when I found myself asking, “What if?”
What are some lessons you’ve learned in/from writing?
I’ve found that sometimes, when you’re really depressed, the best friend you can have is one of your characters. I can’t think of any real “lessons” I learned, probably because I learn new things every day and then they become a part of me. If I could talk to Myself of the past, I would probably give her a lot of good writing advice and tell her to stop using the phrase, “she laughed,” so excessively; but to narrow all that learning down to a few lessons is a daunting task and would probably require at least a week of deep thought.
What drew you to this psychologically intense style of writing?
I enjoy writing about emotions and the idea of getting into someone’s head fascinates me. This is why, when I meet someone who does things in an awkward manner or seems to need a lot more “help” than they’re letting on, I often ask the question, “I wonder what happened to them to make them this way?”
Which authors do you enjoy reading in your genre? Why? Who influences your own writing?
I’ll be honest; I haven’t read many psychological thrillers or anything really relating to it. I read a lot of my Abnormal Psychology textbook, though. As for influences, I’m influenced by people. Which is why, when I go to the diner, I tend to stare, especially at the people who eat ravenously, as though someone is going to jump them and steal their food.
How many times have you submitted your stories before? Have you had a lot of rejections? How do you deal with it?
I can’t remember how many times I’ve submitted things to publishers. I have a list somewhere, I think. Most of the submissions have been rejected, which is why I started my “Wall of Rejections.” So far, I’ve got five or six and probably a lot more on the way. How do I deal with it? Well, the more rejections I get, the closer I am to being on the New York Times’ best sellers list. I also deal with it by writing. And sometimes by muttering rude things under my breath.
You mention novels; how many novels have you written or are in progress of writing?
Oh, my. A lot. I’ve finished several: A Siren for the Dead, Taking 1960, and Smile, America. I’m working on many others: The Minder, which is actually a series of four or more books, A Secret on the Bluffs, (temporary title) and Safe. To tell you the truth, I really don’t remember how many more there are. I’m planning on looking for an editor as soon as I… well, get my act together.
To wrap this up, what advice can you offer other young writers out there?
Don’t give up. Learn how to take a lot of criticism. You won’t become a better writer unless you’re willing to have your work ripped to shreds. I also have a good technique for writing stories and novels and I’ll try to explain it the best I can. Remember that everything progresses in big circles. Experiences that change you will continue to do so for many years. The same thing goes with a story. When I write a novel, I try to visualize the story as a giant circle. Eventually, the main character thinks about something that occurred many pages back because they’ve been affected by it. Your writing has to flow. A river never stops for the rocks; it just tumbles right over them. I don’t know how better to explain it. That everything circulates and goes back to the beginning, I think, is the most important aspect of writing a story. Otherwise, you’ve just got this endless yarn wiggling around and looking for a place to ground itself.
Brandi Redding is a graduate fresh from Arcadia University and taking her first tentative steps into the world of writing, editing, and publishing. A native of Pennsylvania, most of her exploration of the world is through books and her hope is to explore uncharted worlds through her own writing.