Hello there! In this week's installment of the Author Interview Series, I chatted with Millie Florence about her writing habits, her debut novel, and her upcoming book, Lydia Green of Mulberry Glen. Check out what she had to say below!
1) Describe your most recently published book and/or your current work in progress.
Lydia Green of Mulberry Glen is my second and most recently published book. It’s middle grade fantasy about a girl named Lydia Green who leaves her safe home on a journey of self-discovery in the hopes of saving her world from a mysterious darkness.
I wrote this book from a place of very personal emotions and experiences that happened to me while I was in the process of writing Honey Butter. It’s about acknowledging that yes, there are darknesses and hard things in this world, but there’s also light, and light is greater than the darkness.
2) Which do you prefer: self-publishing or traditional publishing? What factors made you choose one over the other?
Ah yes, the hot topic.
I self-publish, and while it’s definitely a learning curve, I think it’s the up and coming thing. Your book won’t necessarily sell better if it’s published by a publishing company, unless of course it’s a huge and well-known one like Scholastic. Most publishers these days leave the marketing up to the authors, and traditional publishing isn’t necessarily a measure of quality anymore. I’ve read lots of books by traditional publishers that were… not that good. And there are so many books that went on to win awards and become bestsellers that were rejected by dozens of publishing companies! How about Harry Potter or A Wrinkle in Time?
I’ve done a ton of research on this subject, and I actually personally know an author who was traditionally published by a fairly big-name publishing company. In the end, self-publishing won out for me. But don’t take my word for it. Authors need to do their own research and make their own decisions.
3) Are there any books, movies, music, etc. that influenced your writing?
When I was little, I listened to tons of classic novels on audio book. Anne of Green Gables, A Little Princess, The Secret Garden, etc. Those have definitely influenced my writing in a big way. The books you love growing up become the books you try to write as you grow.
4) Which is your favorite genre(s) to write in? Which genre have you never written in but would love to try someday?
I love to write fantasy! Nearly everything I wrote was fantasy before I published Honey Butter. Ironically, Honey Butter, my debut novel, is realistic fiction! Lydia Green of Mulberry Glen is fantasy however, and I enjoyed writing it immensely. What I love about fantasy is that it’s the genre that defines imagination. You get to write as far as your wildest dreams and beyond.
Someday I want to write a Sci-Fi or dystopian novel, but I’ve had problems with them because you need to outline things like currency, geography, and government before you write the book, and I don't have an outliner personality. I haven’t tried those genres in a while though, so I may revisit them soon.
5) Do you prefer reading on an e-reader or actual books? Which do you think is better from a publishing point of view?
I prefer print books. After sitting at my computer writing my own books all day, my eyes need a break from the screen. Plus, the story feels more real to me whenever I have a physical copy in hand.
Through research, I’ve learned that there’s a lot of money to be made off of E-books in the adult fiction department. I write books for kids however, and more research has told me that parents and kids want print books. No parent wants to have their kids spending more time on screens than is necessary, and if the book has pictures then a print copy is absolutely essential.
6) How has the online writing community affected your writing career?
No one would know about me if I hadn’t promoted online! The whole writing community is super supportive, and I’ve made amazing friends with the other young authors I’ve met online, several of whom I’ve met in person. There’s nothing more incredible and encouraging than to engage with people who have the same passions that drive you.
7) Describe your typical writing routine.
Since I’m homeschooled I usually do my school work in the morning and finish around lunch time. After lunch I take a quick walk outside, make some tea, say a prayer, sit down and write. Depending on what stage my book is in, I usually write between one to three hours. Less if I’m on the first draft, because I can write pretty fast when I’m not editing, but it can get exhausting sometimes.
8) What is your ultimate goal in terms of writing?
I want to write books that are meaningful and lasting for those who read them. Only problem with that, of course, is that as a writer, I can’t judge my own books to tell whether I’ve done that or not. So all I can do is keep writing, keep improving, and hoping someday that dream will come true.
A more measurable goal of mine is to someday win the Newberry Award Medal. That may not happen for a long time, if ever. But I’ve been writing books ever since I can remember, and maybe, just maybe, someday I’ll have a chance.
9) What has been your biggest writing struggle? What is your greatest strength?
My greatest strength? Ideas! I love coming up with ideas so much that I usually have way more than I could ever write! First drafts are my favorite part of the writing process, because it’s all about constructing the world and characters, which requires a lot of imagination.
My biggest struggle? Plotting. I wouldn’t say that I’m inherently bad at it, but it’s one of the parts that is hardest for me to do, and often the least fun.
10) Is there anything about the publishing world that has been very difficult? Has anything been easier than you expected? If you aren’t published yet, what do you anticipate being easy or difficult?
I can’t say I’m really very surprised, no. I had done a TON of research before putting my book out there, so I knew sort of what to expect. You definitely learn things through publishing a book though. The biggest thing I’ve learned is what works and what doesn’t. You can do all the research in the world about what other people have done, but you don’t really know what will work best for you specifically until you actually get your hands dirty.
11) What is your favorite way to market your book and yourself as an author?
Live events! I love talking, maybe a little too much, and I’m a major extrovert, so I love to livestream on social media, do book signings, and writing workshops.
12) Have you taken any writing classes? If yes, would you recommend them? If no, do you want to?
I’ve taken some great online classes with Brave Writer: https://bravewriter.com/ and yes! I highly recommend them!
13) Is writing your full-time job? If yes, what was your last profession? If no, do you want it to be and what do you do now?
Well, I’m in high school, so I suppose that yes, writing is my full time job for now. My last job was unloading the dishwasher.
When I get older, I want to be a mom and write books on the side.
14) What do you think the future will hold for the publishing industry?
I definitely think the self-publishing industry will continue to grow, and sadly, that Barnes and Noble won’t last much longer.
Other than that, I don’t really know. But I’m excited to find out!
15) What advice would you give to someone who has just started writing?
Writing, like everything else in life, takes practice. So keep doing it, because you will only get better and faster. I’ve heard it said that writing won’t get easier, and in a way that’s true. When you grow, the challenge grows with you, but so does the reward.
To temper that a bit, you should also remember that writing is about life, life is not about writing. Sometimes as writers we get so caught up in character development and word counts and other details that we forget what we’re really writing about. One of my favorite writing quotes is:
“How vain is it to sit down and write when you have not stood up to live.” – Henry David Thoreau
Above all, however, know that you can do it! Your dream is not impossible! I did it, I published a book, and I’m really not that different from you.
Keep up with Millie's writing endeavors by following the links below!
Check out Millie's official website.
Follow Millie on Instagram.