Q & A with YA author Mina Chara

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Hi Mina, thanks for taking the time to chat with me. Congratulations on the publication of your first novel! Where did you get the inspiration for Hero High: Figure in the Flames?

Well as a lover of YA I just wondered why there weren’t many superhero YA books. There are some, but they’re usually graphic novels, or don’t deal directly with the term superhero, they just talk about people with powers, or “abilities”. I wanted to get rid of any ambiguity, and write about superheroes, but more specifically I wanted to write about superheroes for teen girls. My inspiration was really mid two-thousands teen movies and pop music, like Hilary Duff, Sky High, and S-Club. If you can imagine 2000’s bubblegum pop playing in the background while reading, Hero High, I’ve done it.

blog_herohigh_fullcoverpicIn reading about you, I learned that Hero High: Figure in the Flames is the third novel you’ve written. What did you learn from writing those first two novels that helped you polish and eventually publish Hero High?

I learned a lot from the others; I learned to set a deadline, or else revisions will never end and I learned that if you’re going to write a book with someone else, you should make sure you’re both on the same page! But I think the most important thing I learned was that you can’t just jump in and start writing unless you want to spend the next two years on the same book. Structure is everything. You have to make sure you know exactly what you’re doing before you write. It seems obvious, but I don’t think I realized how important it was to think and plan before you write.

What is your writing routine? Do you outline/plot or do you free-write to see where it takes you?

If I ever free write it’s just for practice or for scenes I won’t put in the book, otherwise, I never free write. I always outline and plot. I guess as a writer, you don’t have to, but I think you’d be surprised by the outcome if you did. As for the specifics, I have to know the ending first, think about the moral and themes in the story, and then start building a scene weave, and lay out everything I need in the book, move stuff around, come back to it later, and finally settle on an outline before I start writing.
As for my routine, I either write early in the morning, or late at night. I try to average about three to four thousand words a day when writing the first draft.

Thank you for speaking out about your experience with dyslexia in a way that inspires others to pursue their dreams no matter what challenges they face. I see that you are currently in a creative writing program. Does constructive feedback from fellow writers/students on your writing help push you forward? If so, in what ways?

Constructive feedback is hard to work with in a way, because it makes me want to go back and change things rather than move on. There are parts of Figure In The Flames I don’t like, or that I think could have been better, so criticism helps to push me forward by reminding me, if I listen to criticism I’ll get better but I have to move on to another project to prove that.

Do you think the characters from Hero High have more to say? Is a sequel in the works? Any other projects you’d like to share?

Things aren’t done with Hero High, and something tells me they won’t be for a while. I’m putting the finishing touches to a 100 page novella about Ashley, one of the main characters in Hero High. I’m also working on the outline for the next full length book in the series, creating my scene weave. Writing will start around Christmas and of course I’ll keep readers up to date on social media. I post regularly on Tumblr and I have a relatively new web site www.minachara.com where readers can sign up to get posts by email and keep up with everything related to Hero High.

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