Anna-Marie McLemore on #MyWritingProcess

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AMroadWPHi, all! I’m Anna-Marie McLemore. We haven’t been officially introduced (my introduction is coming soon!), but in the meantime I’m stopping by to join the #MyWritingProcess blog tour. I was tagged by Kelly Loy Gilbert, who’s not only one of my favorite people, but also a fellow Fifteener, and author of the heartbreakingly realistic, startlingly funny debut CONVICTION.

You can find Kelly’s post here. She also tagged fabulous Fifteener Sabaa Tahir, whose post you can find here. And here’s a little about what I’m up to:

What am I working on?

I’m wrapping up revisions on my debut THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS, about two teens from rival families of traveling performers who fall in love despite a longstanding feud.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

My stories often involve cultures coming up against each other, how the folklore of one tradition diverges from and entangles with that of another. But writing about cultures meeting isn’t just about clashing, it’s also about overlooked commonalities. In THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS, one family is Latino and the other is Romani. Though in some ways the Mexican-American background I come from contrasts sharply with Romani tradition, in others, they have more common ground than I ever imagined before I started researching for FEATHERS. Those differences and that overlap may not be the center of the plot, but they’re an undercurrent, a kind of steady hum throughout the story.

Why do I write what I do?

I didn’t realize I was writing magical realism until other people told me I was. I probably had that blind spot because of the cultures I come from. Magical realism feels natural. It feels like the stories I heard as a child and the traditions I grew up in. It feels like home.

How does your writing process work?

I did a lot of traveling with my dad growing up, and for each trip, he always created a dizzyingly detailed itinerary. Right down to what bus we’d catch. What museum opened its rare book room on Monday mornings. What route we’d take when we were walking from one town to the next. But then he wouldn’t stick to them! Let’s get a later train! How about that museum? Why don’t we stop at that other village over there?

It drove me crazy. Why put so much work into a plan if you’re just going to scrap it? But now, in my writing, I do the same thing. It takes me almost as long to plot out a story as to get the first draft down. Yet inevitably, about halfway through, I’ve thrown out the outline. A roadmap can be liberating rather than limiting. My dad’s itineraries gave him the plans he could stick to or stray from. My outlines hold my hand until I find my footing in the story.

Next on the #MyWritingProcess tour, I’m tagging:

Mackenzi Lee, who writes some of the most gorgeous and innovative historical YA I’ve ever read.

Diversity-promoting superhero Kaye of Watercolor Moods, her blog of reviews, book recs, writing updates, and generally wonderful posts.

Thanks for stopping by! Happy writing and reading!

Anna-Marie McLemore writes from her Mexican-American heritage and the love for stories she learned from her family. She lives in California’s Central Valley with a boy from the other side of the Rockies. Her debut novel THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS, a YA contemporary love story with a magical twist, will be released in 2015 from Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press. You can find her on Twitter @laannamarie.
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