First up is Caterina Torres (AKA Cat). She is the author of Zombie Whisperer and a friend of mine I met on my favorite website Agent Query Connect. You can find her on there as well as on Twitter @CaterinaTorres and Facebook here. She has a short story segment on her site as well.
1. When did you start writing?
I started writing when I was 13 years old. I started Zombie Whisperer last year and through hard work and perseverance, finally published it yesterday. But I hope to one day revisit the book I wrote at 13 and rewrite it.
2. What made you want to write?
Nothing really made me want to write, I think it had more to do with having a large imagination that was fueled by reading fiction. Finally one day I wanted to put my imagination down on paper and thus my dreams began.
3. When did you decide you wanted to write to be published (as opposed to writing just to write)?
It was actually the same time as I started writing; at 13 years old. I always knew I just wanted to share my crazy ideas and see others enjoy them or help make them better. I love to make people smile.
4. What genre(s) do you write?
I write Science Fiction as of this moment. I hope to stick to it, but I also want to see if I can do a bit of Fantasy or Science Fiction Romance. Who knows until I try, right?
5. Why that(those) genre(s)?
I'm not sure. I guess I really love trying to logically quantify the moment and make it as realistic as possible, as if it could really happen in our lifetime. Otherwise I feel like I'm not doing my readers justice.
6. Do you have any particular ritual when you write? (A specific way things are done during the process)
Hmmm, I'm not sure if I could call what I do a "process." Usually when I start writing, I have no clue where I'm going or how the story is going to end. I let my characters talk to me and tell me where they want to go, and what sounds most exciting. Then I just write, write, write until it's finished and send it off to someone to tell me if they liked it. Then it's off to a ton of revising and editing of my own before giving it to a professional editor. With some final spot checks, I send it off to publishing.
7. Do you use an outline, or do you just start writing?
There is absolutely no outline whatsoever, except maybe a general timeline to keep track of the days. I literally do not know how my story is going to end, or what characters will pop up until I write into the story.
8. Is there anything you MUST have when you're writing? (Aside from the typical writer tools-laptop, pen, paper, etc)
Confidence. I need to feel comfortable with where my story is going and if it makes me happy, otherwise I get major writer's block.
9. Do you write out your story on paper then transfer to a computer, or straight to the computer?
It goes straight onto a computer. No hand written notes whatsoever, unless I need to calculate something to gain some perspective (such as a timeline).
10. How many books/short stories have you written? (Published or not, even those that you wrote and then thought, what the hell is this?)
Well, counting the one I wrote when I was 13, two books total plus the half written book #2 of the Zombie Trilogy. I have one short story that is continuous on my website and I might have written several one-off short stories that never saw the light of day.
11. Is there, or has there been anyone in your life (real or online) who thought being a writer is/was just another hobby, or that you are/were wasting your time as a writer?
In the beginning, several people close to me thought nothing of it when I began to write. My mom thought it was cute and my husband didn't understand my obsession, but now that it is published it's almost as if a light clicked on in their brains. My close family/friends actually see what I've been doing as a real business and not just a hobby.
12. Do you do Social Media sites? If so, which ones and if not, why don't you?
I use twitter - @caterinatorres
And Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003333249962&sk=wall
And AgentQueryConnect, although I don't use it to market my book but to gain perspective on my projects.
I also use Goodreads.com which is an excellent way to see reader reviews.
13. Any advice for writers that makes you cringe every time you hear it? (Obviously there is some cringe worthy advice that you still follow, so, only some you don't)
Cringe Worthy Advice? "Try not to pay attention to everyone's opinions." I completely understand there will always be nay-sayers out there that hate what I wrote, but I can't help but hang on to their every word. Especially since I have such thin skin when it comes to hurtful words. BUT there is something good out of those nay-sayers - it gives me some insight on what is not liked in my story and what I might or might not change later. If 2 out of 100 people don't like one part, who cares. But if 80 out of 100 people didn't like something, I better listen up.
14. Why do you write about zombies?
I write about zombies because they are one of my greatest fears: a world where the apocalypse has struck the nation and those around me are turned into the undead. My main character might kick butt, but I am just your average american girl. I can't shoot a gun more than I can lift an elephant.
15. What would you do (how would you react) if an apocalypse happened and everyone around you started turning into the undead?
Freak out! I would gather my family and barricade ourselves in someone's house. I guess I would try to be logical about it and treat it like a natural disaster: gather enough supplies for weeks, try to make sure we had outside contact, make sure we had enough water for months; etc. But ultimately, I would be really scared.
16. Do you think you would be one of those people who got infected, or would you be able to survive?
Hmm I can't give an honest answer because I have never been put in a life threatening situation before. I would love to say I'd survive, but considering I don't know how to shoot a gun who knows.
17. If you survived, who is the ONE person in your life you would want to survive with you?
Apologies to families and friends I don't mention, but my husband of course.
18. What would you have in your survival pack (no bigger than an average backpack) is a zombie-filled apocalyspe struck?
Wow, just like a page out of my recent blog post: Would You Survive a Zombie Apocalypse?
In a situation I had no shelter and a simple backpack filled with the tools I needed to survive, it would be filled with - Weapons (like a knife or handgun); Food/Water (plastic bottle of H2O and food bars); Rechargeable Crank Radio (to keep up with what's going on in the rest of the world); One extra pair of clothes; Paper Towel (for obvious reasons, but could also be used as toilet paper); First Aid Kit (which should have been listed first, but it's on the list none-the-less); One Blanket; and a small water purifier that fits on water bottles. I'm sure I could fit more, but those are the most obvious things I would need.
19. What do you do when you aren't writing?
Working, LOL. I'm a full time worker and wife. I do my general 40 hours per week and then come home to cook for my family. I also try to spend time with my family because they mean the world to me.
20. Any words of wisdom for anyone who is thinking of becoming a writer, or just something you think all writers should know?
Do what you love, and love what you do. Plain and simple. Who cares if others tell you it's a waste of time or if rude people say you suck. If you love to write, write.