Questions and Answers, part 1

Hope everyone is having a lovely Monday/July 4th!

For those of you just tuning in, I'm answering some reader questions this week. If you have a question, you can leave it here and I'll try to tackle it.  I'm answering them in no particular order, since some are longer answers then others, so if one of your questions isn't here, it'll be in Wednesday's post.

And here we go!
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Diane (who happens to be a family friend) asked two questions:

Just why did you get into your mother's fingernail polish when you were three? 

*sputters* It was in the little-kid contract! Get into lipstick and/or fingernail polish by age three, cut your own hair by age five. It was TODDLER LAW!

from Rants, Raves and Random Thoughts.
(My nephew preferred Crisco to fingernail polish, but the same principle applies.)

Really...Who inspired you most to write?

I came to writing slowly, over years and years of trying to do other things instead. But I can pinpoint a few people who really made an impact.

1. My dad

My father is primarily responsible for my love of stories. Mostly because he actively encouraged me to read, read and discussed books with me my whole life and never took a book out of my hands once I was reading it.

2. My high-school English teacher, Mrs. Mallery

We did a LOT of short story writing in Mrs. Mallery's class, and when she saw how much I enjoyed it, she helped me start a writer's group at my school. She was the one who taught me you could actually BE a writer, that it wasn't some impossible, mythic task only special people did.

3. Really awesome authors

Every time I read a great book, a lose-yourself-in-it, put-it-down-with-a-sigh book, I'm inspired to write. To go back to my keyboard and create a world that's THAT AWESOME. Every time I pick up a book like that, I'm reminded of the power of storytelling, how it can open up the world, change and heal people. And I fall in love with stories and writing all over again.
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Helen asked:

How did you come up with the name for your book?

The concept came first actually. I was reading a lot about geishas at the time, and I was also reading a novel about the early life of Guinevere, who was being "groomed for" King Arthur, though she didn't know it. And I started to think, what if there was a whole organization/estate dedicated to "grooming" girls, raising them to be all kinds of different things?  What would such an place be called?

Eventually I came up with The House of a Thousand Dolls, and it was such a delightfully rich and creepy name that I used it as the title too.
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Josiphine asked:

Did you write as a young child? Did your friends write?

The answer to the first question is, surprisingly, no. Not really. I wasn't that into writing as a little kid. I was into reading, anything and everything I could get my hands on. I enjoyed writing assignments at school, and when I was seven I did write a book for my little sister's birthday. (It was about a princess and a hollow dragon.) And I told myself stories all the time, especially at night when I went to bed. But I never really wrote.

I don't remember if any of my (few) childhood friends wrote. I don't think so. I put together a writer's group in high school and most of those people were friends. But I seem to remember they were primarily into poetry.  And I was the only person I knew of back then who was actually writing a book.
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Thanks for the questions, folks! I'll tackle the rest on Wednesday.

Enjoy your week!

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Fabric art in the header by Carol Riggs.