What’s your advice for aspiring writers?

It sounds cliche but seriously, write, write, write! Flex your writing muscles every day. Write a haiku about this morning’s breakfast. Make a list. Copy your favorite book/movie quotes into a journal. Similarly, read, read, read! Cultivate things that inspire you, but don’t wait for inspiration to come. Make lists of your favorite books, songs, TV characters, places, etc. Inspiration is everywhere. Don’t wait for it. Create it. I also highly recommend falling into a good writing community or finding some honest, constructive critique partners with similar goals! If writing is in your heart, don’t give it up.

How do you pronounce the name Crescenzo?

Creh-SHEN-zoh! (I get excited about this question because I get to do a mini Italian lesson. The name originates from the Italian verb crescere, which means “to grow”. His last name is DiLegno, which is basically “from wood.” Fitting that he’s the son of Pinocchio!)

Is your book appropriate for my son/daughter?

Only you or your child can be the best judge of this. My best advice would be to preview chapter one or flip to the middle and get a feel for the language, then make the decision for yourself. I do not write sex scenes or use F-bombs in any of my books. I consider The Carver trilogy to be PG-13, whereas Roses in the Dragon’s Den is somewhere between PG and PG-13. For a good comparison, look to Percy Jackson or movies such as Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.

Where did you get the idea for The Carver?

My Masters thesis topic was something called the ‘Peter Pan Syndrome’ in Italian literature. Basically, I had to research books about 30-year-old dudes who still act like they’re children. Peter Pan kept coming up in this research, and so did Pinocchio! One day I kinda zoned out and suddenly I found myself asking, “But what if Pinocchio did grow up, and have a wife and a son and hobbies and leave his childhood behind? What would that even look like?” I got carried away thinking about this, and soon I had imagined that Peter Pan was his next door neighbor, and he had a son, too! I think Peter Pan would have a harder time adjusting…

Did you ever hear the story of how Michelangelo made the Statue of David? He saw a big block of marble one day, and later, he told people that he had seen a man trapped inside the marble. He carved the statue by “setting him free”, and removing everything that wasn’t a part of David. I learned this around the same time that I was in graduate school, and so I put those two ideas together! What if Pinocchio grew up and had a son, and… what if he became a fantastic woodcarver, just like his father or like Michelangelo?

Can you help me with my manuscript/outline?

I’m super sad that I have to say no to this, but I must decline. I get this request quite often, and it is simply not possible to honor them all with my schedule. It’s also a sticky area in terms of legality and copyright issues. However, I’d love to direct you to the resources that helped me the most on my own journey:

  • Scribophile: an online writing community where authors of all levels critique each other’s work to earn points. The feedback you receive, the support you gain, and the skills you develop when you critique somebody else’s work are all invaluable, and I have become very good friends with a number of writers I met on this platform. I cannot recommend it enough!
  • Your First Novel by Laura Whitcomb and Anne Rittenberg: Even if this is your second or third novel, this guide is gold. It takes you through everything from developing an idea and putting down the bare bones all the way up through the day you make contact with an agent or a publisher. My copy is still on my desk, filled with notes and highlights.
  • Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder: Okay, so this is intended for screenwriters, but I’m one of many novelists who swear by it. It teaches you a set of tricks and formulas that can help you perfect any plot and make it great, which is helpful whether you’re trying to write an actual screenplay, a novel, or even a short story.

Find the tools and the community that work for you, and it’s even better than any feedback I can give you! Trust me and stick with this advice, and I hope I’ll be buying your book one day 🙂

Can you come speak at my school?

This depends on my schedule, but you can bet I’d love to look into it! Send me an email (authorjakedevlin at gmail dot com) to discuss rates and possible dates!

What do you do when you’re not writing or reading?

Currently I work at a large public university! It keeps me pretty busy, but when I’m not doing any of the above, I’m probably at the movies, binge-watching something with my roommates, hanging out at Planet Fitness, or eating. Or at Comic Con.

Quick Facts!

Birthday: September 21

Hobbies when I’m not writing (or reading): Spoiling my niece, watching movies, traveling (usually for Comic Cons), listening to music, cooking.

What I’m actually doing: Probably laundry.

Favorite movie(s): Anything in the MCU! Big Hero 6, The Greatest Showman, Stardust

Favorite show(s): The Umbrella Academy, LOST, Parks and Rec, Stranger Things, Queer Eye, Agents of SHIELD

Favorite band(s): Muse

Favorite author(s): Sabaa Tahir, V.E. Schwab, Pierce Brown

Favorite book(s): Stardust, The Name of the Wind, All the Light We Cannot See, An Ember in the Ashes, pretty much anything written by V.E. Schwab

Favorite food: Tacos! Especially the ones my mom makes.

Favorite travel destinations: Orvieto, San Diego, Nashville

Favorite quoteYou’ll never find a rainbow if you’re looking down. – Charlie Chaplin