Cyra: Could you please introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your writing background? What inspired you to become a writer, and how did your writing journey begin?
Marieke: I’m Marieke Nijkamp. I write books, comics, and graphic novels for readers of all ages, but I’m probably most well-known for my YA books (including This Is Where It Ends) and my first middle-grade graphic novel (Ink Girls, with the amazing Sylvia Bi) will be published later this year. I have always been an avid reader, basically since I could read! And I always wanted to be a writer too. I love stories 🙂
Cyra: Could you share a glimpse into your creative process? How do you approach developing ideas and turning them into stories? Do you have any specific rituals or habits that help you get into the writing zone?
Marieke: My creative process is very structured. I love plotting out books before I start writing, and I love knowing exactly what happens when. I tried writing a short story without a roadmap once and uh, it didn’t turn out short at all! So I really like having all the pieces in place!
Cyra: Who are some of your favorite authors or literary influences, and how have they shaped your own writing style? Are there any books or works that have had a profound impact on your writing career?
Marieke: When I was 10, I read Tonke Dragt’s The Letter For The King, about a young squire who dreams of becoming a knight and has grand adventures. That was the book that made me want to become a writer too 🙂
Cyra: How do you approach developing compelling and relatable characters in your stories? Are there any strategies or exercises you use to ensure your characters feel authentic and three-dimensional?
Marieke: In terms of character development, I love trying to figure out what makes characters tick. What do they dream of? What do they fear? What is one secret they don’t want anyone to find out, ever? What is their favorite food? Their worst nightmare? What does their playlist look like? Questions like that help me get a good sense of who a character is.
Cyra: Is there a particular book or project you are most proud of? Could you share the story behind it? What is the most rewarding aspect of being a writer for you?
Marieke: I love writing about found family. And about hope.
Editing and Revision:
Cyra: How important do you think the editing and revision process is for a writer? Could you share your approach to editing your own work? Do you have any suggestions for writers on how to improve their editing skills?
Marieke: The editing and revision process is maybe the most important part of writing, at least, as far as I’m concerned. It’s where you get to polish every single word, make sure all the sentences are in the right order, play with the mood, and make sure the story makes sense.
One of my favorite ways of editing is by reading the manuscript in a different format–on my e-reader, or on paper, for example! That way, it tricks my brain into thinking it isn’t the manuscript I’ve been staring at for months, and it’s a little easier to be… well, not objective, but have a bit of distance to it. It makes it easier to figure out what isn’t working.
Advice for Budding Writers:
Cyra: What advice would you give to aspiring authors who are just starting their writing journey? How do you handle rejection and criticism in the publishing world?
Marieke: I have two bits of advice for budding writers. First of all, read. Read everything. Read the types of stories you love and want to tell. Read your favorite books and try to figure out why they’re your favorites. Read books you don’t like and ask yourself what isn’t working for you. Read manuscripts by other aspiring authors and exchange notes. Read outside of your comfort zone. Read broadly, read critically, read.
And second of all, tell the stories that make your heart sing.
Cyra: Could you give us a sneak peek into any upcoming projects or books you’re currently working on? Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers and aspiring writers?
Marieke: I’m currently working on edits for my first middle-grade novel, Splinter & Ash! It’s about a young squire and a princess, their friendship and their adventures.
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