My Artist’s Statement

When I joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, they asked for my artist’s statement. I’d written one once before for a grant and I’ve written bios galore. But never an overall artist’s statement. I loved the idea. Should have done this long ago. Of course, I think every artist of all sorts should list their favorites and influences, as I think those things are like opening the blinds into the mysterious house that is the writer’s mind. Here’s what I came up with…

I love science fiction. Not so much the aliens and space travels, though I’ve been known to enjoy those as well. (Hello, my favorite show is still “The X-Files” -seasons 1-7- and I thought it was a good idea to watch the entire “Alien” film series while waiting for my due date to approach when my 1st daughter was born). My favorite science and speculative fiction stories (novels, shows, films, short stories, etc.) are those that question reality, involve time as an important element (not necessarily time travel, but time is key to the structure and/or plot, and/or ask what it means to be human. I also like mysteries ( I grew up loving Sherlock Holmes, still do) and novels that have journalists as good (evil-corporate-“the man”-fighting) characters.
No matter what I’ve done or read or watched or written, from journalism to science fiction and everything in between, the thread is certainly The X-Files tag line – “The truth is out there.” While I love journalism (I have a BJ and MSJ and have been a journalist in some form or fashion for 20+ years now) and believe in the courageous and important work journalists do, I’ve decided the best way to really eek at the truth of things is through fiction, speculative fiction, in particular.
After twenty years of writing nonfiction about other people (i.e., journalism), I decided to do something for myself – write the types of novels I really want to read. I got a second master’s (MFA in creative writing) and got to work. I found too much sci-fi, while I loved the ideas in the books, was overly male-centric. There weren’t enough strong young women characters. So I decided that’s what I wanted to write. And I’ve been doing so ever since. I owe my own three children thanks, too, in that I credit them for helping me finally deciding to write novels. They inspire me everyday with their observations on the world and their cleverness.
My first novel was one that had been swirling around my head for a while and I wrote the first draft over the summer of 2016. It is set in the near-future, centered around the adventure that a young online star falls into as she searches (with her brother and a new friend) for her missing parents and ends up learning the truth about society’s dark reality, halfway around the world. It is a thriller-mystery YA science fiction novel about a girl who learns how to open her eyes and be her true self.
My second novel is a speculative fiction take on a Shakespeare classic. I’ve just started on the sequel and I have a third book idea outlined for what has ended up going from a re-imagining of a cool play to a series. Who knew? I certainly didn’t when I started it. At first, I wrote a play (by hand!) adapting it as I went through and studied the plot over and over. Once I did that, I knew it had to be a novel and I built on my base over the summer of 2017. Right after editing the first book, I outlined the sequel on December 31, 2017. January 1, 2018, I began writing it. I hope to finish both the second and third books in the series this year. (Because I have like three other novel projects I was planning on writing this year before the mused called on this one. But I must hear the call and go with it!)

Up there in my all time favorite fiction writers list are Phillip K. Dick, Michael Crichton, Margaret Atwood, Kurt Vonnegut, and Lois Lowry. My favorite books include:

Ubik by PKD
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
The Handmaid’s Tale by Atwood (this book grabbed me & taught me what I wanted in all books)
The Giver series by Lowry
Slaughterhouse Five by Vonnegut
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
The Running Man by Stephen King as Richard Bachman
The Solar Lottery by PKD
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by PKD
Jurassic Park by Crichton
The Andromeda Strain by Crichton
The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi
Player Piano by Vonnegut
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Joseph Campbell’s Reflections on the Art of Living is my favorite nonfiction book. Followed closely by Kendrick’s Edward R. Murrow bio Prime Time.
See what I’m reading and give me recs over on Goodreads @AngeleOutWest!

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