Why is writing important to you and why do you think it's an important medium for the world? Storytelling and reading are always important, no matter what else is going on in the world. Stories reveal emotional truths, and sometimes factual truths too. And the medium of fiction may be truer than truth at times--writers create characters and scenes that heighten emotional reactions. Readers can be surprised by their feelings and moved in a meaningful way that alters their interior landscape. Especially in difficult times, written stories can transport people to other worlds, away from the day-to-day stress of their lives, and they offer a chance to empathize with those who are different.

What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer's block? I don't believe in writer's block! If you get stumped, walk away for a bit. Go outside or exercise to get yourself refocused. Also, try to write something else. If your fiction isn't coming out as you wish, try writing a poem or a bit of memoir. To me writer's block is simply an indication that you need more thinking time or a change of direction.

What is your favorite time to write? I prefer morning. I do need to clear my email inbox before I start writing, so I always do that first, answering any pressing communications. Then I can write with a clear mind. I try not to get on social media until later in the day. Social media is part of book marketing, so I do look at it each day, but I try not to let it suck me in when I should be writing.

What's the best piece of writing advice you've ever received and would like to impart to other writers? Well, I don't adhere to the idea that writers must write every day. Sometimes, off time is very helpful for the deep thinking that needs to occur before the serious writing starts. That being said, I do think writers should seek out peers--develop a network of writer friends with whom to commiserate and share work. Also, seek education, via conferences, workshops and even an MFA if that interests you. Approach the craft with professional rigor and stay on top of industry news and trends.

What excites you most about being a writer in today's age? For me, writing fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction is always about emotional impact. Writing gives me the chance to make readers FEEL things. I want to break people's hearts, really. Written words have the ability to spur deep, complex emotional reactions. That excites me very much!

Sarah Z. Sleeper's Gaijin is out now with Running Wild Press.