Susan Maupin Schmid is the author of LOST TIME, a Golden Duck nominee for excellence in science fiction for children, and is a fellow Iowan! Susan, thank you so much for visiting The Writing Cave.

Thanks for inviting me to share!

I haven’t seen many science fiction books written for middle grade. What were your inspirations?

I’ve always been fascinated with time travel, archeology, and other worlds. I devoured science fiction as a teenager and taught myself to write in hieroglyphics in college. This was back during the touring of the Tutankhamen artifacts in the late ’70s. I had King Tut’s sarcophagus painted on my dorm room door. Lost Time was an opportunity to meld them altogether.

Tell me a little about your writing process.

I believe that writing begins with thinking and that too often beginning writers neglect this step. I spend months (and sometimes years) thinking about an idea and developing it. And then I partner the idea with a specific character and that changes the idea. Because no two people will do the same thing for the same reason once they are confronted with a situation. The rest of the process involves lots of typing, whining, procrastinating, and chocolate…not necessarily in that order. I like to write to silence in an empty house, so I write during the day.

Mmm chocolate. A writer’s best friend 🙂 How have you been promoting your book?

I’ve done events such as SCBWI conferences and the Iowa Author’s Fair. I think one of the biggest favors you can do your book and your career is to be open to doing things you’re asked to do.

What were your three favorite reads of 2009?

I’m a voracious reader. Last year I read 113 novels. So picking three is hard. Here’s a short list of books I thought were exceptional:

Getting the Girl-Susan Juby
Hunger Games-Suzanne Collins
Shiver-Maggie Stiefvater
Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks–E. Lockhart
Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover-Ally Carter
Soul Enchilada- David McGinnnis
Reformed Vampire Support Group-Catherine Jinks
Bloodline-Katy Moran
The Knife of Never Letting Go-Patrick Ness

The book I enjoyed the most last year was Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon; it’s been out for years and isn’t a kid’s book, but the writer inspired me to extreme jealousy with the power of his writing. Oh, to be so good.

Wow, “voracious” is a good description! With all that reading, do you have an e-reader?

I don’t have one. I’m addicted to the smell of printed paper. They could bottle that scent and I’d buy it: Eau de Paper, they could call it. Or some better, Frenchier-sounding version of that. I do understand the lure of Kindle: the portability, the convenience. I just love real books.

Any advice for beginning writers?

Join a critique group and be willing to listen. Find someone who writes better than you and take their advice. Stubbornness is the death of many a good talent. Last year I received a multi-page letter from an editor telling me everything that was wrong with one of my manuscripts. I thanked her for investing that much time and effort in improving my work. (And then I started the whole whining-typing-chocolate thing again.)

Ooo, good advice. What’s rotating through the typing and chocolate cycle now?

I’m finishing revision on a Young Adult fantasy about a princess trapped in the body of an old crone. (Not that I’m old enough to know how a crone feels, it’s the imagination at work here. Really.)

Sounds exciting, and a good use of imagination :). Since I’m a cheese freak, I have to ask: what’s your favorite cheese and why?

Gouda. Smoked gouda sliced really really thin and laid lovingly on a multi-grain cracker. (Not chocolate, but close.)

Mmm, I had this five-year aged Gouda once that was just beyond description. Thanks so much for all your insight and advice, Susan. Check out LOST TIME if there’s a SciFi fan in your house!