Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Author Interview: Lily Elderkin

Dancing with the Pen is an anthology of young writers' works. Please give a warm welcome to one of the authors, Lily Elderkin! 
Lily Elderkin is a freshman in high school in Park Ridge, Illinois. Besides writing, she loves to read, act, and be with people she loves. Her short story “Lyrical Fragments” appears in the debut anthology from Write On! Books youth publishing company: Dancing with the Pen: a collection of today’s best youth writing. The book features stories, essays, and poetry by more than 60 young writers from all across the U.S. and even abroad. Learn more at www.writeonbooks.org.
Describe your story that was published in Dancing With The Pen. How did you get your idea for the piece? Take us through your writing process.
My piece is called “Lyrical Fragments,” and I wrote it for my middle school’s Young Authors Contest last year. I had, earlier that year, suffered the loss of my 
grandfather, and it was really hard for me to come to terms with. The way I managed to deal with it was through writing my experiences, which has ultimately become my own personal form of counseling myself. “Lyrical Fragments” is the story of a girl who lost her very close family friend who was like an aunt to her. I used many of my own experiences, although with many differences, in “Lyrical Fragments”. After developing the central plotline of the death of Naomi, I added in the main character, Celine, having a real aunt who ran away from home. I thought that it added more drama to the piece, and the thought of seeing someone whom you’ve only heard stories about, or haven’t seen for a very long time, is a fascinating idea to me. I actually came up with the idea in the middle of writing the Naomi part, and I was able to fit it in nicely.
Have you been writing for a long time? What do you like about writing?
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. My favorite thing about writing is that it is my form of self-expression. I can write exactly what I think without fear of interruption, and I can write how I’m feeling whenever something has happened to me. When I’m sad, I work out my feelings through writing. When I’m hurting, I write. When I’m angry, I write. When I’m happy, I write. It gives me a way to manage my feelings and events that seem unmanageable in my life. It’s like a medicine; it always makes me feel better.
What does it mean to you to have your story included in this book?
I was ecstatic when I found out I would be in it! The first step on the road to publishing a novel in the future. When I got the book in the mail, I just couldn’t get over it. My form of celebrating was reading the book cover-to-cover and seeing what talented authors I was in the company of!
Do you have any advice for other writers, or for other young people going after their dreams?
Don’t ever stop! It’s definitely a hard, scary thing to put your work out there and hope that it goes somewhere and that people will like it, but guess what? They do like it! If you keep working hard and going after what you want, you can achieve anything.
Can you share a few of your favorite books or authors?
My all-time favorite book is Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. I also am a big fan of the Harry Potter series. Another author I really love is Markus Zusak, who wrote The Book Thief and I am the Messenger. Also Gail Carson Levine, who wrote Ella Enchanted, Wish, The Princess Tales, and many other amazing books.
What inspires you?
My family. Not only does every member of my sizeable family have so many interesting stories to tell, but each of them also love and support me at all times. My parents have never discouraged me from going after what I want, and my siblings are all so enthusiastic about my accomplishments. I don’t know what I would possibly do without them.
What are you working on now?
I’m currently writing a novel that I’ve so far called “Living My Life Freestyle”. I’d love to get it published, but I’m still in the editing phase, and it has a long way to go. I’m also constantly writing more short stories about anything and everything. Once I finish high school, I plan to go to college and focus on creative writing, journalism, or an editing career. Hopefully I’ll keep writing forever and someday you’ll see my name on the cover of a book!
Anything else you’d like to add?
I’m so grateful for the opportunity to be in Dancing with the Pen, and Write On! Books is an amazing organization. Thank you to everyone who worked on this book for making it such a great experience for me! 
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