Inside the Author’s Cranium: Naomi Canale


I’m delighted to end my 2015 blog series with the lovely, inspiring Naomi Canale. She has been a member of SCBWI since 2007, and serves as Co-Regional Advisor for Nevada. She writes YA and MG and her YA horror, HIS DARK WAYS, released in 2013. Ever since she was young, she’s enjoyed reading any scary book she could get her hands on, and hopes to bring that same joy to those who come across her books. When she’s not writing, she enjoys creating works of art. She’s been lucky enough to showcase her paintings in many places like Ironstone Vineyards, New York’s Rocking Horse Cafe, E3 Gallery, and Dreamer’s Cafe, in downtown Reno. She’s also been published in Direct Art Magazine, My Light Magazine, and SCBWI’s bi-monthly bulletin.

1. What’s your favorite word? Persistence, because when I’ve had doors close on me, or people tell me I can’t, I’ve always persisted to prove them otherwise. I think it’s a very important word to carry with you in any creative line of work.

2. What’s your least favorite word? Can’t. It’s basically the antonym to my favorite word above and something my grandfather told me to never say, especially if one of his mustangs had bucked me off and I didn’t want to get back on.

3. Describe your style of writing: I’m a prose girl, and I often write in first person, present tense. It’s my favorite tense because it’s so immediate and in real time, like watching a movie. I may work on crafting other tenses someday, but for now, this is the style of writing that I’ve grasped because I’m dyslexic and it was this style of writing that helped me become a more avid reader.

4. Describe your work ethic: I wake in the morning and read before my children wake up, and then I pack my children off to school, except one, he’s homeschooled, so during the day it’s like I have a full time job being a teacher, but it’s a wonderful job. In between my oldest having quiet breaks in the day as he works on assignments or projects, I try to take those slices of time to stew on my current work in progress. I think of pacing, character, or issues in the book, and I write free hand in a notebook trying to untangle things. By the time dinner is over and I’ve spent some quality time with my family, I open my laptop and write. I usually write till midnight or later, and my reading from the early morning, and my scribbled notes from the day, propel me right into my work. I’ve found this is the best method for me because I’m not left staring at a wall wondering what to write next.

5. Any tips on how to flesh out a character? A big thing that I’ve learned is that characters can’t simply be fleshed out. Characters should be the first building blocks we reach for when building a story and their worlds should be built around them—it should all be organic, moving the character into their world. If you think of a gift, that’s your character, then wrap that gift up, that’s your world. If a character hasn’t come to you very three-dimensional with a strong voice, then you should reconsider why you’re writing them. I’ve had to learn this the hard way after developing one too many two-dimensional characters. Great characters need arcs, they need to be crushed, have stakes—costs, and horrible disasters in their lives. And after they’ve been put through hell, they need change as well. Great characters have almost always had most of these things.

6. Any tips on developing plot? Pacing, pacing, pacing. A bad plot usually equals lazy writing. Take the time to thread your story. If you ever find you’re bored and want to rush through a scene just because it’s too slow, reexamine why you feel this way. It usually means there’s an issue that needs to be resolved before you move forward. Also, if you’re moving your character from point A only to get to point B, your story is going to feel stale. When you use merely actions or sequences without diving into what really makes the story tick, it’s going to keep you in that two-dimensional place without any depth. Make sure that everything is happening for a reason, everything! A reader isn’t going to know your character in and out like they know their family or a close friend, so you need to develop your characters fluid enough right away so that your reader feels like they can connect to your work.

 7. Who are your favorite visual artists and composers? As far as composers, my son, he’s young, but inspires me daily with his music making talents. Bruno Coulais, Danny Elfman, and John Williams are just a few more. Visual artists are Travis Louie, Shaun Tan, James Christiansen, Leonardo da Vinci, and Georgia O’Keeffe. I can keep going forever though, there’s so much talent in this world!

 8. Who are your real life heroes? My family and friends, and those who risk their lives for others.

9. Assuming there will be an afterlife, who would you like to meet and why? Martin Luther King Jr. I love everything about him. His passion, and the way he spoke the truth and stood up for what he believed in. He was a light in the darkness and had the courage to love—he was awe inspiring. I imagine that if I met him, there’d be a glow to him. He was a beautiful light and I’m sad the world lost him.

10. What is your favorite writing motto/mantra? A quote by T.E. Lawrence sums up my writing mantra perfectly. “All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.”– T.E. Lawrence

11. What motivates you?grew up dyslexic and had a terrible time reading; it was extremely frustrating to go through when I was young because they didn’t know of dyslexia then. I was held back and struggled all through school and heard I was stupid more times than I can count, but deep down I knew I wasn’t. I couldn’t read fluently, but I could see things other kids couldn’t, and that kept me hanging on. It wasn’t till I entered high school when a lot of things clicked for me. I started to get straight A’s (a first for me ever) and I even graduated high school a year early with almost an associate’s degree. I wasn’t well read, but I knew I wanted to make books, especially for those who were like me and were very reluctant to pick up a book. Because of my experience, I’m very motivated to create books for those who’ve barely read a book and found it boring or frustrating because they couldn’t understand it. I want to make exciting worlds for them and get them to fall in love with reading. I hope my books will do just that someday. It’s a big dream of mine. Although, I’d love for all readers to enjoy the books I create, but the reluctant readers have a special place in my heart.

To learn more about Naomi visit http://www.naomicanele.com

About Linda Boyden

Teacher. Author. Artist. Storyteller. Poet. I write a poem a day. A picture book each month. I write novels for kids. I color in and out of the lines. I help young children love words and stories. I believe laughter comes straight from the Creator who put us on this fine Earth so we can help one another do our best.

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