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?

It’s pronounced 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”. Crescenzo’s father is Pinocchio, who, as you might recall, had some interesting experiences related to growing… 🙂

Where did you get the idea for The Carver?

My favorite question! So, a year ago, I was presenting my Masters thesis at the University of Virginia, and my research 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 (sort of trying to decide if they want to be boys or men, or if they’re somehow both). 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?

That idea turned into a short story, and that’s what you see on my blog right now! I never meant to write anything more, but one great friend read the first chapter and said, “You have to write more! What happens next?” A few months later, I had the first draft of a novel full of fairy tale characters, and it’s been my very favorite story to work on. The characters have really grown into my heart and I’m so glad that I get to continue their story with at least two more books planned!

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!

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): Arrow, Flash, LOST, Parks and Rec, Stranger Things

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

Favorite food: Tacos!

Favorite travel destinations: Orvieto, San Diego, Nashville

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