VIP Interview: Zoe York

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I wrote my first book when I was five; it helped that my mom was a writer, and she helped me a lot with that first story! And then I did the classic “teenager discovers poetry by day, Harlequin categories by night” thing, and I’ve been writing ever since. But it wasn’t until my early thirties that I thought I might be able to pursue fiction in a serious way.

What inspires you?

First responders, especially paramedics; the beauty of the Great Lakes, where I grew up; and motherhood in all its highs and lows.

How much research do you do?

Not as much as my husband thinks I should! Sometimes I’ll write a whole scene without knowing if it takes place in a restaurant or a diner or someone’s kitchen, and I litter my manuscript with hashmarks and “look this up later” notes. I recently won the use of a research librarian in a charity auction, and it’s the best present I could ever have bought myself.

Why do you write?

Same reason as a lot of other writers, I think: the stories are in my head, and very loud. If I didn’t write them down, they’d probably just get louder. I lose myself in daydreams all the time.

Do you have a writing routine?

Is procrastination a routine? I do that. Spend most of the day doing anything but, and then frantically dive into words at the last minute, an hour before my kids come home from school.

What advice would you give to Aspiring Writers? Emerging Writers?

Gather trusted advisors around you. Don’t listen to people who aren’t excited about what you want to write.

What do you find most challenging about the writing process? Favourite?

When the ideas are spilling out of me faster than I can write them down, and it feels like I might lose them; also equally challenging, when the muse goes silent, and I’d do anything to have that mad rush of ideas back… So it’s not a surprise that my favourite part of the process is when I hit that sweet spot in a book where I know the characters and the plot unfurls logically, and I get to really sink into the feelings. That’s the best.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started?

The power of a niche. Sticking with one thing, and leaning into it in every way; it’s not how I want to write all the time, but the longer I can focus in one spot, the more success I find. (It’s so hard!)

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given? The worst?

Best: There are no “shoulds” in writing. Worst: Show don’t tell.

All writers have ‘a voice’. How would you describe yours?

I don’t know! It’s a good question. Raunchier than expected? Definitely wholesome at times. Wholesome smut? Endearing, kind, with little punches of humour and filth.