Wednesday, February 23, 2011

First Official Wisdom Wednesday! Interview with Tristi Pinkston

Today is the first official Wisdom Wednesday blog post!  I have an interview with the fabulous Tristi Pinkston.  Not only is she the author of the Secret Sisters Mysteries and several historical fiction novels, she is well known for helping fledgling authors. Rarely does a conference in the Utah valley go by that she isn’t there, teaching and encouraging. That can make all the difference! Where would new writers be without someone like Tristi? Who better to have for the first official Wisdom Wednesday?  Here’s the interview:

1. What is your favorite book?

I have several favorites.  I really love I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith, Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier, Peace Like a River by Leif Enger, Christy by Catherine Marshall.  And the list goes on and on and on ... 

2. What would you say is the hardest part about being a writer?

There are a lot of hard parts.  One of the toughest for me is knowing that I want to be the very best I can possibly be, and yet getting hung up on the same mistakes I make over and over again, or not being able to take this scene I see so clearly in my head and get it down on paper so others can see it too.  Of course, then there's also fear of rejection, fear of no sales, wondering if anyone really likes me, wondering if I really have anything important to say ... you know, all that stuff. 
3. What is the most important thing new writers should know?

New writers should know that it takes a lot of work and study and editing and honing your craft to really get where you're trying to get.  You can't just sit down and write a story and expect success.  You need to pay your dues in research, in editing, in going through draft after draft after draft, and in patience.  But it's very worth it in the feelings of accomplishment you have afterward. 
4. How do you deal with writer's block?

I never force creativity.  If I get stuck, I stand up and walk away from the computer.  I do something else for a while.  I watch a movie, read a book, scrapbook, take a hot shower, run errands - anything to pull my mind out of the problem.  Then, a little while later, the solution will just come to me.  I've tried to jiggle my brain and make it cough up more ideas when it's not ready, and it clamps down and refuses.  I have to coax it by letting it relax.

5. How do you balance life and writing?

Um ... not very well, to be honest.  My housework always takes a back seat, and I do mean, always.  If I start to clean, my kids ask who's coming over.  I sneak in writing in between life, and I sneak life in between writing.  It's all spinning plates, and sometimes those plates come crashing down and I have to get them going again. 
6. What steps do you take in the editing processes?

I very rarely write a whole draft and then go back to edit.  I'll sit down and start the story, and write until I get good and stuck.  Then I'll go back to the beginning and edit it up until the point where I left off, adding details and making corrections as I go.  By the time I get to where I left off, I've usually added a few scenes I realized needed to be there, and I know where I'm going, so I'll head out into new frontiers and maybe make it another twelve thousand words or so before I get stuck again.  So I go back to the beginning and do the same thing.  By the time I'm totally done drafting out the ending of the book, I've been through the first part several times, and then I need to put the ending through the same process.  Then, after it's all done, I let it sit for a long time, usually about a month, and then I come back and do a full edit again.  Then I feel like it's ready. And somewhere out in the middle of all that, I take it to critique group.  That's hugely helpful in the process.

7. Who has had the biggest influence on your writing?

I can't really pinpoint one person.  I was inspired by authors like Ann Rinaldi, Dee Henderson, and Jan Karon.  I was cheered on by J. Scott Savage, Josi Kilpack, Kerry Blair, Rachel Ann Nunes.  I was hugged and comforted by Julie Wright, Shirley Bahlmann, and C.S. Bezas. I was applauded,and yet challenged to do better, by Gordon Ryan.  Every author I've ever met or read has had something to do with my writing today.  I've been molded by good people who cared about my career and wanted to see my success.

8. Who is your hero?

My hero is anyone who writes from their gut. 

9. Of your novels, which was the hardest to write?

Hmmmm.  That's a tough question.  My first novel was really hard because I was trying to figure this whole thing out.  My second was hard because the research I had to do was very disturbing to me - the concentration camps were horrific, and it took me a while to shake off the stories I'd read and the images I'd seen.  Writing did get a little easier for me after that point, not that it ever has become a piece of cake, but I learned how to turn out a manuscript in fewer drafts. I would say that the hardest one is probably one I haven't published yet, that I don't know will ever see the light of day.
The easiest?

The easiest novels by far have been the books in the Secret Sisters Mysteries series.  My characters start talking and I just sit here and type.  I do have to rein them in from time to time - they go on tangents and I have to make them stick with the story.
Your favorite?

Of course, the first novel holds a special place in my heart because it was the first.  The second novel helped me prove to myself that I wasn't a one-hit wonder.  My third is my family history book, and I'm probably most proud of it - if I died tomorrow, I'd die knowing I'd written something really worthwhile.  My fourth was a romantic suspense, something I'd never done before, and it was ground-breaking for me.  My two mysteries are just fun.  So ... which one is my favorite?  They all are!
10. Dark chocolate, white chocolate, or milk chocolate?

For cookies, semi-sweet.  I can do milk chocolate as coating on a candy bar, but I don't like too much of it all in one place. I like white chocolate on a pretzel. 

Thanks for letting me interview you Tristi!
If you haven’t checked out her blog, then shame on you—it’s great!


  1. Nice interview. It's cool to learn more about Tristi and her writing process.

  2. Man, what a great interview. I'm especially glad to know that Tristi still gets hung up on the same mistakes. I do that ALL THE TIME.

  3. Tristi is an amazing woman, to be sure.

    Your comment on her Bumpy Landings blog tour post was your winning ticket to the Blog Tour Grand Prize. Congratulations! Come on over to for the details.