Why is writing important to you and why do you think it's an important medium for the world? For me, writing is all about creativity--using words to paint a picture, to draw the reader into another world, to force that creative flame that burns inside you onto the page. Writing also serves as a means to enlighten and educate others, getting them to think about something in a whole new way, which I hope my work in true crime has done. Writing is communicating, whether it's an idea, or simply to entertain. I wouldn't want to be in a world that didn't have writing and books. Such a world would be a very barren place.
What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer's block? My tried and tested jump-starting tool is to start reading some books. It doesn't matter if these books bear no connection whatsoever to the kind of content or genre I'm working in. There's just something about the act of reading that fires up my brain. Either that or it's the guilt factor - in that I'm reading another author's finished book, and I feel guilty that I should be getting my own book finished too!
What is your favorite time to write? Oddly, I used to be a night owl with my writing. Now it's the opposite. I find that early afternoon up to just before the evening begins is when I can finally get cracking with an unbroken period of time in which to work. Plus that's also when I've (hopefully) finished dealing with the other business of the day and can finally don my writer's hat and focus.
What's the best piece of writing advice you've ever received and would like to impart to other writers? I'm trying hard to think of any specific piece of writing advice I've been given, particularly in the "best" category, and I'm stumped. Perhaps it's because I've usually been the one to offer writing advice to others, such as when I was teaching the subject at university and in my creative writing workshops. So over the years I've taken my own writing advice - don't give up if you really believe in yourself and your talent. But also be realistic. I think it's important to remember that not everyone has what it takes to be a writer, especially a good one. The desire to be a writer doesn't always equate with having the talent and ability (and the stamina) to actually be one. Having said that, just because your work might be rejected (and rejected several times), don't accept that as proof that you're no good. Editors and agents can be highly subjective in what they accept. If this is your calling and you are confident that you're good at it, then keep banging on those doors until one of them finally opens.
What excites you most about being a writer in today's age? To be honest, I'm just excited that people are still buying and reading books! I do find it encouraging that there are some newer independent publishers appearing on the scene - publishers that are interested in offering readers a wider variety of content from a wider variety of voices. We hear so much about the closed-door world of publishing, so having more innovators in the industry is something we very much need in order to keep books alive and get more people interested in reading them.
Mitzi Szereto's The Best New True Crime Stories: Unsolved Crimes & Mysteries is out now with Mango Publishing.