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Creative Careers : Erin Gray Interview

Creative Careers in the Arts Interviews

Young Adult Historical Fiction Author Erin Gray

By Molly Anderson-Childers

Erin GrayAs winter approaches, mountain nights grow colder, and I long to stay curled up inside with a good book to keep me company. Pull a chair up to the fire, readers, I've got quite a treat for our bibliophiles out there. This month, I am interviewing Erin Gray, author, freelance writer, and graphic designer.

A native of Southwest Colorado, I first met Erin through my work with the Mancos State Park Guest Artist Program. She helped me organize a series of writing workshops there, and then attended them all herself — we've been friends ever since. Erin has been a writer since the tender age of seven, and is currently working on several projects. She's also a young mother, struggling to balance her creative work while raising her son. How does she do it, folks? Read on for more juicy details. Welcome to Creativity Portal, Erin!

Q: What was your first job as a young woman?

A: My very first job was a "river rat" assistant for a rafting company. I scheduled trips and tagged along on the river whenever I could.

Q: When and how did you first discover that you wanted to be a writer?

A: I was seven years old and couldn't stop the flow of story ideas in my head. I would pretend play as often as I could, but couldn't shake the characters from my mind. Too young to write well, I employed my older sister to transcribe my thoughts onto paper.

Q: Aside from your writing, you are the mother of a young son, and you work several day jobs. What is the most significant challenge you have faced in balancing your creative work with other parts of your life? How are you working to overcome this challenge?

A: The biggest challenge is finding the energy! Raising my son is my first priority. When he naps, that's my time. It's tempting to clean house or nap myself. I have to give myself a little treat before writing, such as a soda — which I never drink, or a bite of brownie. I take this to my office and tell myself I have to earn those treats. It gets me in the office, and usually from there I can get motivated.

Q: Do you have a set schedule for writing, or a certain ritual or routine for beginning work on a project?

A: I write 4 days a week, for approximately two to three hours, depending on the length of my son's nap. I try to do simple "pre-writing" items, such as organization of materials or article research when my son is awake, but this is limited. It may not seem like much time for writing, but because it is so condensed I don't have time to sit at my desk and think about working. I dive right in.

Q: I understand that you have been working on a new novel, and also revising "Moonshine Murder," your young adult historical novel. Can you discuss the differences/challenges inherent in creating a new work, versus editing something that is more complete?

A: There is a certain kind of energy that comes from creating something new — a bit of anxiety and excitement in getting those ideas out of the head and onto paper. Almost like the first day of school — you're excited to be there, but nervous to see how things will turn out.

Editing takes a completely different mindset. To edit, you have to be brutally honest with yourself. It's more tedious because you are taking apart this creation you've made and piecing it back together, better and stronger. I personally love editing because I discover I am capable of taking something I thought was great and making it amazing. It's a great feeling.

Q: Which do you enjoy more, creating a new work or refining some existing project?

A: I can't say that I love one more than the other. There is certainly a rush about writing that new idea, but seeing your talents grow during revision is very satisfying.

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