Why is writing important to you and why do you think it's an important medium for the world? Reading is the closest activity to real magic that I know. Somehow, we translate those little black squiggles into ideas, scenes, emotions, events...and writing is what creates all of it. Writing can turn chaos into something closer to order; it makes sense of the senseless. The world speaks to us, and when we write, we speak back.

What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer's block? The "park on a hill" technique in which you stop for the day before you have run through all your ideas or sentences. Leave the page with an idea of where you will start again tomorrow. It then becomes so much easier to pick up the pen or return to the keyboard.

What is your favorite time to write? I like to write first thing in the morning, when I am still half-tethered to a dream state in which reality is more fluid and feathery. My ideas are wilder then and they flow, one to the next. This is when I jot down the essence of a new poem or get to know one o f my characters better. But I also like to write late in the afternoon: a time of organizing and summarizing. Those hours are useful for editing and re-writing, for making better sense of the morning's freeform musings, for constructing scenes and building pace.

What's the best piece of writing advice you've ever received and would like to impart to other writers? Terry Pratchett's quote: "The first draft is just you telling yourself the story." Otherwise, it is all too easy to get caught up in trying to imagine and predict who might want to read/edit/accept/publish this piece--before it is even finished! Far better to be my own best listener and reader by letting the story unfold all the way to the end. This means silencing my inner critic until that essential first draft is done. And then the rest of the work begins...

What excites you most about being a writer in today's age? The potential for connecting with readers is so much greater than in the years before social media, before it was so easy to find a writer and reach out to them. Rather than sending a letter to a publishing house in hopes it would be forwarded, now readers can email directly to their favorite authors. And hearing from readers is one of the most gratifying parts of writing--to know that your words moved them (or even confused them!) enough that they wanted to get in touch.

Anara Guard's Like a Complete Unknown is out now with New Wind Publishing.