Today I am so excited to have an interview with the winner of the Dear Cassie Diary Entry Contest, Monica Fumarolo. Her diary entry as Amy Pond from Doctor Who was chosen as the favorite and published in the final version of Dear Cassie.
You can read her winning entry here.
Tell me how you started writing
I have absolutely loved stories for as long as I can remember, and I would write them sometimes when I was little. (Such standouts were “The Dancing Raccoon” and “The Adventures of Tina the Tiny.”) I have also kept a journal for a number of years and have literally written everyday since March 7, 2011.
As for writing fiction and longer stories, that also started in spring of 2011. A story idea popped into my head, and for once instead of brushing it off I actually decided to try writing it and see what happened. Four months later, I had a 62,000 word first draft and I’ve been hooked ever since.
Who are some of your influences?
I grew up part of the Harry Potter generation, so of course J.K. Rowling! As for people whose styles have definitely shaped mine, Sarah Dessen, Stephanie Perkins and Elizabeth Eulberg rank up there. I also love John Green whose amazing talent leaves me in awe. And I must give a shout-out to Shakespeare and Jane Austen – I have always adored them both, but her novels especially have been close to my heart since I was a teen and I love rereading them every few years.
What is your writing routine?
I’m definitely a planner, not a pantster, so when I have an idea I tend to sit on it for a very long time to decide if I can really make something of it or not. If I think I can, then I make endless notes for myself. A huge part of my process is coming up with a playlist for that story – it helps me think of the mood and tone I want, along with getting into a character’s head. However, despite how much music influences me, I usually need to write in silence so I can focus.
How did you get the idea for the piece you submitted to the Dear Cassie Diary Contest?
I actually tried writing entries for a few different characters but nothing was fitting. Around the same time, Amy Pond made her final appearance on Doctor Who (the Doctor’s companions come and go, and her time was up), and I was watching her early episodes, mourning the loss of this character I’d come to love so much. Writing her diary entry was my way of dealing with some of those feelings, I sent it in, and here we are!
How did you feel when you found out you won? And who was the first person you told?
I could not have been more surprised. I’ve been stuck in Queryland for so long, so when I got the email, I was absolutely and completely shocked! I immediately called my mom (who was also thrilled) and texted my dad. Then I sprinted from the library in the school where I work to another department office where my friend and fellow teacher Camille was and we freaked out together – it was such an incredible feeling!
How did you feel when you saw your name in print?
Again, shock! It didn’t fully hit me that this was really happening until I had the book in my hands for myself. Then it really hit me again when people who watched my video about release day on my YouTube channel and live in other states and countries said they couldn’t wait to read Dear Cassie and my story, too. It’s a lot to wrap my head around, but it’s great.
What are you working on now?
What happens when the cynical descendant of the real Beauty & the Beast finds herself trapped in what anyone else would call a Cinderella story? That’s what my current work in progress tries to answer, and while it’s been very slow going (I recently had to scrap 100 pages and start over again), I’m having a lot of fun with it. =)
Monica Fumarolo received her B.A. in English and M.S. in library and information science, both from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She lives in the Chicagoland area where she is a librarian by day and writer by night. Visit her online @mfumarolo.