Author Interview with Ilima Todd

Photo of Ilima Todd

We are so excited to have Ilima Todd come to WIFYR next week to teach the Two-Day Workshop, “Crash Course in Writing”. Here’s a little about her:

Ilima Todd was born and raised on the north shore of Oahu and dives for octopus with her dad every time she visits—otherwise she’s diving into books in the Rocky Mountains where she lives with her husband and four children. She graduated from BYU with a degree in physics and eats copious amounts of raw fish and avocados without regret. But mostly she loves being a wife and mama and wouldn’t trade that job for anything in the world.

What made you decide to start writing, and why did you choose children’s books?

I’ve always been a big reader and lover of books, and writing a novel was sort of a bucket list of mine. So one year I made a new years resolution to write a book, and after I began, I loved it so much I couldn’t stop. So I wrote another book. And another. I knew writing was something I wanted to do for the rest of my life, so I began to seriously think about publishing and learning the craft of writing. My writing voice just seemed to naturally gravitate to a teen’s voice, and I love how everything in a teenager’s life is passionate, emotional, and full of yearning. I enjoy writing characters who feel so deeply.

What writing advice do you have for someone trying to breakout in the market?

Publishing is difficult, so make sure you continue to write while you’re pursuing publishing. It will keep you distracted from all the waiting and rejections you’re bound to experience, it will allow you to improve your craft, and most of all, it will remind you why you’re doing this in the first place—for the love of telling a story. Everyone writes about people they know.

Who shows up in your books over and over?

My husband tends to show up in all of my character’s love interests in one way or another. And I will steal lines from him that only those close to us would recognize, but is fun to read. So of course I like those characters, but my husband’s sisters sometimes recognize him in my books and say it’s weird to read about their brother.

What is your favorite memory of WIFYR?

WIFYR was the first writing conference I attended, and not only did it teach me so much about how to write, it taught me I still had a lot to learn. I formed a critique group with other students in my WIFYR class, and to this day they are some of my best friends and critique partners, possibly the biggest thing that has impacted my writing career. We’ve cheered each other on through the ups and downs of publishing and have become better writers together.

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote? What was it about?

It was a historical-fantasy-romance set in ancient Hawaii with a commoner girl, a chief that could transform into a bird, and an evil bird-catcher with his eye on the throne. I still love that story.