Author Interview: Trina Boice, part three – Secrets of Nonfiction

Thank you for joining us for part three of our exclusive conversation with author Trina Boice. If you missed parts one or two, click these links to catch up.

Trina, you’ve written several best-selling nonfiction titles for the LDS market. What is the secret to writing interesting nonfiction?

Well, I don’t know that I’ve found a secret, but I definitely try to give people their money’s worth! Many people simply don’t have the time to research everything they want to on a given subject and so they ask me for ideas. I love the Internet. There is so much great information to be found there! I also check out a ton of books from my local library, write from my own personal experiences, interview tons of people and send out questionnaires. I like to talk to people to find out what they would want to read and learn about in the subject my book is addressing. I know people buy my books with their hard-earned dollars, so I feel a great sense of responsibility to make sure they get their money’s worth! I try to pack in as many ideas as possible so they get the most bang for their buck. Most of the time I write so much that my publisher has to delete a lot in order to keep the page count down to a reasonable price. When that happens, I try to create blogs or web sites where I can give my readers the ideas that didn’t fit inside the book.

Do you have any tips for how to keep research notes organized? I need this more than anyone!

Hmmm….That’s a good question. I’m sure every author has his own method of madness. When I begin a book I start to brainstorm, creating folders on my computer for various categories of thought. Sometimes I think a book will look a certain way, but then it begins to take shape differently as I create my folders. Sometimes I have to print what I’ve written to see how I want it to look on paper before I can organize it. I usually have a “research” folder and a “draft under construction” folder for each topic I want to include in my book. My kids say that my desk looks like the Starship Enterprise or something from Star Wars because I have three monitors where I spread out my work and move information around from “research” to “draft” to “final edit” stage of writing. Tristi, sell one of your kids and get another monitor or more!

Interesting thought . . . trading offspring for electronics. They’d have a field day with that on eBay, I’m sure!

What made you start writing?

My elementary school teachers! I was fortunate enough to have teachers who responded well to my creative writing and made me feel good about what I had put down on paper. Of course, when I read those early works now and see how terrible they really were, I realize how overly generous and kind those teachers were. The impact a supportive teacher or adult can have on a child is incredible. As a little girl I loved to read and would often miss the call to dinner because I had disappeared into a faraway world in some book while reading in my bedroom. In second grade my teacher created a book worm that wrapped around the room, made of big paper circles that represented books each student had read. Most of the circles were mine and the teacher put gold stars on my circles for books I had read that were especially difficult or thicker than what everyone else was reading. My goal was to read every book in the library. (Gee, get a life, kid!) I competed on the Speech & Debate team in high school and in college and have always been fascinated with words and the clever use of them. I dated wordsmiths in college. I appreciate good literature much more than I am able to produce it!

Thanks, Trina!

We’ll conclude our interview with Trina Boice tomorrow. In the meantime, be sure to check out her website and learn more about her.

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