Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Author Spotlight--Lena Coakley

My Bucket List
by Lena Coakley

Aspiring novelists put so much of their energies into the dream of being published that when it finally happens, there is sometimes a letdown. Unpubublished authors might find this hard to believe, but it certainly happened to me. After the book launch and the tweeting and the first flurry of reviews, I realized that getting published didn’t make me a different person, or solve any of the problems I was secretly hoping that it would. In fact, now there was something missing. I had lost the number-one goal on my bucket list—writing and publishing my first novel—and it left a hole.

By necessity, writers are a self-motivated bunch, which is why it’s important that we keep moving the finish line forward for ourselves by making new goals and finding new dreams. Now that I’ve written and published my first novel, the #1 item on my bucket list has changed to:

--#1 Write and publish an even better novel. 

Since I have my first speaking engagements coming up in the fall, my #2 had better be:
--#2 Learn to speak in front of a crowd (gulp!).

But life isn’t all about work! There are places I want to go and experiences I want to have that have nothing to do with my writing. For the next eight of my top ten, some I expect to cross off my list this year, some may be on my list for many years to come (like #7 for instance), but the important thing is to keep replacing them with other goals and dreams so that I’m always moving forward.

--#3 Learn another language.

I’m always making half-hearted attempts at this one, and over the past two years have taken introductory courses in everything from Spanish to ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. (Really!) But I have a “sticking to it” problem. Maybe Mandarin?

--#4 Get my diving certification.
I’ve always loved snorkeling and after taking a submarine trip in Cozumel a few years ago, I decided that SCUBA diving is something I’d really like to try.

--#5 Go to the Galapagos

--#6 Go to China (#3 will come in handy!)

--#7 See a narwhal.
This has been on my bucket list since I was eight years old and my grandmother took me to the Cloisters Museum in New York to see the narwhal horn that was mistaken for a unicorn horn.

--#8 See the northern lights. (This can probably be done in conjunction with #7.)

--#9 Volunteer on an archeological dig. (Mostly because I’m a huge fan-girl of Time Team.)

All right, I don’t usually tell this one since it’s a bit cheeky, but here goes: My final and (until now) secret goal is to have a book on the New York Times bestseller list—

which brings me to my conclusion: Dream Big!

What’s on your bucket list?

Lena Coakley was born in Milford, Connecticut and grew up on Long Island. In high school, creative writing was the only class she ever failed (nothing was ever good enough to hand in!), but, undeterred, she went on to study writing at Sarah Lawrence College.

She became interested in young adult literature when she moved to Toronto, Canada, and 
began working for CANSCAIP, the Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers, where she eventually became the Administrative Director.

Witchlanders, her debut novel, was called “a stunning teen debut” by Kirkus Reviews and was the winner of the SCBWI Crystal Kite Award for the Americas region. She is now a full-time writer living in Toronto.