I hope you guys enjoy this interview with Shiloh– she’s a fantastic blogger and writer- and if you do enjoy the interview don’t forget to stop by and check out her blog which will be linked below.
1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your blog.
My name is Shiloh Carozza, and I am a chronic overthinker. While this can lead to needless stress in my personal life, I find this trait is the lifeblood of my creative existence. Many of my best ideas come from noticing a pattern in the outside world or in my own thought process, and then asking why. Why is this a pattern? Why do people keep coming back to a particular issue? Why does my mind return again and again to a particular interaction with someone? Why does this scene from a particular book or movie haunt me?
You will find that my books explore these questions through the eyes of my characters, in a narrative approach. My blog, however, takes a more conversational approach to this exploration. The Inquisitive Inkpot is my platform for three basic activities:
1) raising questions about particular stories
2) drawing connections between storytelling and real life
3) giving my reades an inside look at my own creative works and journey as an author.
Other fun facts about me include the fact that I play the banjo, was featured on America’s Funniest Videos for falling into a bathtub (fully clothed, mind you), and I have the unusual talent of being able to pick up very large rocks off the bottom of lakes using my toes.
2. When did you create your blog and what pushed you to start blogging?
Creating a blog was something I had long avoided, because in my heart of hearts, I am a storyteller and not a conventional blogger. What I didn’t realize, though, was that author blogs are actually some of the most interesting ones out there, and that blogging and storytelling are quite compatible (case in point, Pooja’s “six word stories”). The Inquisitive Inkpot began in the summer of 2019 as my platform for sharing bits of historical research and background information about my historical fiction novel, The Exile. It didn’t take long to realize that there was so much more I wanted to write about, so it quickly became the online hub for sharing all things related to my creative projects, lessons I’ve learned in the writing/publishing process, and commentaries on the connections between life and storytelling.
3. I think you’re the first children’s author I’ve interviewed on this blog which is so awesome. Tell us a little bit about what inspired you to write children’s books.
In all honesty, it’s a bittersweet story. I had never intended to write children’s books– in fact, I had such little exposure to kids that the idea was rather terrifying. But a dear friend, who knew me perhaps better than I knew myself, told me I should try writing one. And so the adventure began! I wrote the story, we revised it together, we storyboarded it together, and a matter of months later we were no longer in each other’s lives. The birth of the story and the loss of this friend were so closely interwoven that I found it hard to move forward with the publishing process, but meeting the right illustrator changed everything. The artwork breathed new life into the project, and I knew this story had to reach children. Since publishing The Misadventures of Melvin the Missing Sock, this book has actually built new bridges with some of the dearest little friends in my life right now– and seeing kids enjoy the book has shown me that my friend was right all along. I needed to write children’s books. And if that friend could see me now, I know they would be proud.
4. What is the most difficult part about writing for children?
This is a great question. As a writer who usually prefers to imply things, I have to remind myself that children are not able to make sophisticated inferences in the same way adults can. This means I have to work to make the themes of the story more obvious than I normally would– and yet if they are too obvious, then the book feels preachy and overwritten. It’s about finding balance. I want to challenge kids by strengthening their reading and critical thinking skills, without important elements of the story going straight over their heads.
I would add that one of the most rewarding parts of writing for children is seeing them learn. A recurring pattern in my first series of children’s books is the use of alliteration (i.e. using consecutive words that begin with the same letter). I use this particular literary device to introduce new words to kids in a fun way, which means they are more likely to remember the word and use it themselves. For example, in The Misadventures of Melvin the Missing Sock, the story begins with Melvin the sock feeling “mediocre” because he is just a plain, white sock who lives in the middle drawer. Later on, when he is separated from his match, he feels “melancholy.” It’s always a blast seeing kids light up when they realize what these words mean, and then hearing them use the words later on!
5. You also write a number of other things like historical fiction which as a history major is one of my favourite genres. What inspired you to write historical fiction?
I have always been fascinated by what life in different time periods was like, and the gradual development of ideas that we take for granted today. But more than that, I love exploring the more obscure parts of history where there is a lack of recorded events. For instance, I was drawn to early medieval Scandinavia as the setting for The Exile because of the mystery surrounding the pre-Viking time period. Before the Vikings, there is actually very little recorded about the Nordic people and their clans. While we can assume that the way of life was very similar to their more famous (or infamous) successors, most of the land’s early history is mingled with legend and shrouded in uncertainty. I see this type of ambiguity as a goldmine for creativity. Where known facts end, imagination begins.
I also believe historical fiction is a beautiful way of connecting with peoples of the past. While the characters may be fictional, thorough research enables you to create a very believable world in which the reader feels for the characters and identifies with their struggles. Each era and culture certainly has its own challenges, societal expectations, and worldviews– but at the end of the day, every person who ever lived has had to face some of the same questions and struggles that define what it means to be human.
6. What are some of your future goals for your writing and your blog?
While I plan to continue writing both historical fiction and novels, I plan to take my writing into film production as well. I had the privilege of writing, directing, and producing some stageplays as well as small-scale films while in college, and ever since have been infected with “the bug” of scriptwriting. Success in connecting with professional producers depends largely on having a visible body of work that you can point to, which speaks to your versatility and quality of writing. This is not to say, of course, that writing books translates easily into writing scripts (they are very different). You will need to submit complete, properly formatted scripts to any film producer you are contacting. But, as with unpublished manuscripts, you don’t leave your scripts hanging out in public view on the internet– you only send them in as solicited by an agent or producer.
Yet having an entire library of content that you have developed over the years (i.e. your blog) can help make a professional impression on anyone who is considering the work you have submitted.
My current emphasis with The Inquisitive Inkpot is to continue sharing with my readers the valuable insights I have learned firsthand in the writing and submission/publication process. I have repeatedly found that some of the best advice and practical pointers I have received came from authors who take the time to share their experiences with readers. If I can be that sort of a resource to someone else, it is well worth it to me.
7. What is one thing you love about blogging?
Stumbling across a perspective I haven’t encountered before! In the blogosphere, you encounter plenty of people who echo the same concepts and principles– which can be a helpful reminder that what they’re saying is true, but it can also grow monotonous. I like running across an article or blogger who evaluates something from an unconventional angle– not for the purpose of being nonconformist, but for the purpose of raising important questions that many of us overlook. Two bloggers who consistently do this well are Sam Kirk and Saania Saxena.
8. What is one thing you hate about blogging?
Staring at a computer screen! I already do a lot of digital work for my full-time job, so by the end of my work day, spending more time in front of a screen is not exactly Number 1 on my list of preferred activities.
I also have to laugh at the times when an article that I thought was a knock-out doesn’t receive the response I thought it would… while one of my more “lame” posts generates tons of likes and feedback. Your audience can keep you on your toes!
9. What is your favourite food?
This is probably the easiest question: Italian. I’m probably biased because I am Italian, but it is a core belief of mine that garlic can improve just about anything (except for desserts).
10. As a historical fiction writer what is one century/period of time you wish you could experience?
Although none of my stories (yet) have taken place in this setting, I would love to have experienced the golden age of Rome. The level of technological advancement, art, and education this society reached is truly astounding, when you think of how long ago this was. Granted, you would only have benefited from these aspects if you were of some means. Slaves didn’t have the best of lives, but the standard of living for the common man was still much higher than it was for peasants of subsequent centuries.
For all the attention that the Middle Ages and the more “rugged” time periods receive, I think we forget that life back then would have been very harsh, dangerous, and full of disease. We are still dealing with the effects of a pandemic today– imagine what it was like for those trapped inside cities during the Bubonic Plague!
The plunge from Rome’s pinnacle also fascinates me because it reminds me how civilizations are capable of regressing as well as progressing.
If you enjoyed this interview don’t forget to stop by Shiloh’s blog by clicking here.
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