Mandi Jourdan studies English/Creative Writing at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. She is translating the Harry Potter books into a series of plays in the style of Shakespeare, one of which was performed in Fall 2016 and will be staged for a full run in Spring 2017. Her prose has appeared in four anthologies by Sinister Saints Press, Coming Around Again by the Central Arkansas Speculative Fiction Writers Group, Beyond Science Fiction Digital Magazine, 9Tales, the 2015 and 2016 editions of Grassroots Literary Magazine, and the Kaskaskia College Scroll. She has stories forthcoming in Digital Science Fiction and Quickfic.
How long have you been writing and what got you started?
I’ve been writing in some form or another since early grade school. My grandma writes, and growing up watching her made me realize how much I love it. I started out with children’s stories that I illustrated, as well, and when I was in sixth grade, I started my first “serious” writing project, which was essentially Harry Potter from Narcissa Malfoy’s point-of-view. That was about the time I started work on my first novel, as well.
What is the best piece of advice you have for new writers?
Keep going. It’s intimidating to have an idea in your head that you want to turn into a story and not be sure where to start, but just write it in whatever way makes sense to you and keep writing and revising until it gets to a point that makes you happy and suits your vision. Even if you get criticism that stings, keep going. Take the parts that are helpful and use them, and don’t let anyone discourage you from turning your ideas into something you love.
Are there any writing resources, such as books or websites, you’d like to recommend?
The Purdue OWL (https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/)! My professors cite it often, and I think it’s very helpful when I have questions about mechanics.
What is your favorite type of fiction and who are your favorite authors?
I love fantasy and sci-fi. My favorite authors in those genres are J.K. Rowling, Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, Orson Scott Card, and Cassandra Clare. I also adore Emily Brontë and Wuthering Heights.
What tips do you have for finding time to write?
Write any time an idea hits you. I keep a notebook with me when I can, or if that isn’t possible, I make notes in my phone when I’m out and about and get ideas. As soon as I’m able to get to my laptop, I start working on the idea in some form, whether that’s through writing out the scene or just writing down more details about where it fits into the story for later. Writing things down while they’re fresh in your mind minimizes the chance that you’ll forget parts of them before you get to flesh them out.
Are you an outliner or discovery writer? Or somewhere in between?
I’m definitely somewhere between the two. I like to have a basic plot outline written out and decently detailed in my mind, but I find that if I try to outline by scene, I overthink things and get more concerned with completing the bullet points on the list than letting the characters and the plot guide me where they would naturally go.
Have you attended any conferences or writing retreats? What was the experience like and do you have any to recommend?
I attended Southern Illinois University at Carbondale’s Young Writers Workshop in 2010, when I was between my freshman and sophomore years of high school. It was incredible to meet so many people my age with a passion for writing, and the workshop led me to apply to SIUC for my BA in Creative Writing. I would definitely recommend it to teenage writers looking for a place to sharpen their skills and get insightful, constructive feedback on their work.
How do you deal with rejections?
I tell myself that my piece wasn’t what that particular market was looking for at the time and start looking for another home for it, usually through Duotrope. Rejections sting, but I remind myself that every writer deals with them and that they’re part of the process. I know I can never get an acceptance if I let the rejection keep me from trying, so I just have to keep going.
What are your writing goals for the next twelve months?
I plan to continue writing short fiction and find homes for all of the stories I have completed right now, and I want to keep working on the longer projects I’ve started. I’m also in the process of trying to find a literary agent who can help me get the novel I’ve recently finished out into the world.
Is there anything you’d like to plug? Feel free to share a link.
I’m on Twitter (https://twitter.com/MandiJourdan) and Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/Mandi-Jourdan/e/B010U89CBY)!