As you can see, Maya is an experienced and accomplished writer. Let me summarize a few of her insights and share my reactions (I'd love to hear your's as well).
1. The writer’s skill set rests in the way they use the tools available to them.
Maya loves to interact with words. That’s her passion. Before plot, characters, setting, and dialogue (all of which she also mentioned), she talked about tinkering with words and language. All are important, and she excels at each, but the answer to that question is very telling, because it reveals so much about a writer’s style. Imagine Dan Brown answering the question... “The plot comes first.” Jane Austin? “Characters bring the story to life.” And maybe Jack London? “The setting must be realistic and believable.”
Each would answer the question differently and yet in the same breath tell you that the entire toolbox is critical to the overall story. But, when you read an artist's work, notice the details of how he or she manipulates each component, utilizing their unique skill set.
2. Creativity comes from everywhere.
Maya's first vision for The Meri came to her in a dream. Other writers eaves drop on conversations and watch people interact. Some tell about their own experience. Nothing defines creativity.
3. There’s a science to good metaphors?
I loved Maya’s advice on metaphors. How many of us sit in front of the computer wracking our brains for a metaphor? Now, sit back and follow Maya’s advice. Find parallels. Keep the parallels consistent (i.e. don't mix your metaphors). Be cautious with clichés. Don’t go overboard.
4. You mean...he didn't write that?
The Writer recently ran an article about ghostwriting. Does it hurt a writer’s brand? Help it? How does a reader feel when they learn that a book was ghostwritten? I feel like I would be reluctant ghostwrite or allow someone to ghostwrite for me. I would plant myself firmly within the “J Sherer” brand and stay there, but as Maya's experience has suggested, it can be a valuable process for both writers.
5. “Two heads are almost always better than one.”
After looking at the first point again (listed above under 1. The writer's skill set...) regarding style, it's easy to see why collaborating makes sense. Let’s say one writer’s skill is in crafting exciting, "can’t stop reading" plots. A second writer’s skill is in developing characters and defining the setting. Put those two together and you’ve got quite a combo. It's something that would allow the writers to encourage, strengthen, and learn from one another, but I think Maya's advice is well thought out: someone has to be the decision-maker.
I thoroughly enjoyed Maya’s interview, and I’ve got two more writers lined up for interviews, so stay tuned for more thoughts and discussion points. In the meantime, how do the points above hit you?