S.J. has been making up stories for as long as she can remember. She’s never been pulled into a dreamworld, but she did have a remarkably vivid dream about the Beatles once. She lives in Southeastern Michigan with her husband, two children and a cat. This is her debut novel. Keep up with her current writing projects at sjlomas.com.
What are your writing habits? Long hand v. computer, times of day, are you easily distracted, do you listen to music?
Most of my stories start off as longhand scribbles in one of my many notebooks. I don’t know what it is, but I feel differently about the whole process when I’m sitting with a pen in my hand instead of in front of a keyboard. Once I get going on a piece, I can compose at a computer, but I have to have a solid start in my notebooks first.
Because I have a day job and young children, it can be difficult to find writing time. I try to use my commute as “writing” time. I listen to music that suits my story and ponder out plot problems. I’ve always been a night owl, so it helps that once the kids are in bed, I can creep down to the computer and get writing then.
When I’m writing a difficult scene, yes, I’m very easily distracted. That’s the time when housework looks really attractive. But when I’m writing an intense scene, I can get very deeply involved and not notice what’s going on around me. I usually have music on while I write to help keep me in the mood of the particular scene I’m working on.
What inspires you?
My writing inspiration can come from the craziest things. My most reliable sources are music, books, people I’ve known, places I’ve been. Sometimes, I will think about something I’ve done and extrapolate it out, or exaggerate it, or write the choice I didn’t make.
Are there any scenes that are easier or more difficult to write for you?
Yes! I went through many days of sitting down to write then saying, “Oh, it’s THIS scene” and I’d close up shop for the day. Scenes can be difficult for many reasons. Maybe it’s the pressure of writing a really important or emotional scene. Maybe I haven’t quite figured out the implications of the scene in the overall plot and I need to think it out more. Other times, I just don’t know what to say. In that case, I realize that the scene doesn’t work at all and I can drop it and start somewhere else.
Do you remember the initial spark for Dream Girl?
Yes! I awoke from a very bizarre dream one night. The imagery was so crystal clear and the things that were going on were so strange and dark. I knew, immediately, that it would be perfect for a novel someday. I jotted down the main points of the dream and filed it all away. Years passed before I came across a young adult book by Michael Lawrence titled “A Crack in the Line.” As soon as I finished the book, the dream popped into my head and I knew it could only be a young adult novel. Once I made that connection, the characters starting coming to me and the plot began to form.
How did you construct the plot of Dream Girl?
I am mostly a “pantser” (someone who writes by the seat of their pants rather than outlining). I had general plot ideas and scenes but mostly I just wrote and saw where the characters were taking me. By the time I felt I was about halfway through the plot arc, I did sit down and outline the remaining chapters, which was really helpful but I don’t think I could have done it from the beginning. I have to meet the characters first. They lead me through their story.
Dream Girl is intricate and involved, with quite a dark side. Do you have a dark side?
I find this question rather funny because I am so deeply affected by scary movies that I can’t watch them. Just the commercials are enough to spook me for years, yet I love Edgar Allen Poe and wonderful gothic tales of old.
I think all of us have a dark side in us, to different degrees. As a writer, there’s a lot of good material to draw from there but I mostly try to stay on the sunshiny side in real life.