Hello gentle reader,
Today I’m thrilled to share with you an interview with one of my favourite YA authors! You may remember I interviewed the wonderful Susan Dennard back in July 2012. At the time, her debut was just being released. Since then, Susan has published one more book and a novella, and the last book in her trilogy will come out in July. Additionally, she has sold another trilogy: a YA Epic Fantasy whose first installment will be available in Fall 2015.
A writer in the spotlight – 17
Author : Susan Dennard
Genre : Young Adult, Fantasy
Location: Midwestern US
Books : Something Strange and Deadly series: Something Strange and Deadly (2012), A Darkness Strange and Lovely (2013), Strange And Ever After (expected publication: 22d July 2014) from Harper Teen.
Truthwitch series: expected publication Fall 2015 from Tor.
My interview (15th April 2014)
Can you tell us about your writing process for STRANGE AND EVER AFTER? Did you have everything already mapped out before you started drafting or did the book go through a lot revisions and changes?
I had a vague idea of where the series would end up–but VERY vague. Like, I knew Eleanor and the gang would go to Egypt and ultimately face the Big Baddie, but details were totally nonexistent. As I drafted A Darkness Strange and Lovely and new story threads were woven into the plot, my vision for book 3 became clearer. It wasn’t until I started writing book 3 and really set my mind to wrapping up all the story threads and all the character arcs that I fully understood what had to happen. Even then, it took me a half a draft to get a real handle on how everything would actually weave together for an epic ending. What can I say? I’m a bit of pantser…
STRANGE AND EVER AFTER is the last book in the series: how did it feel to part with these characters and this world?
Oh my gosh, it was HEARTBREAKING. I cried and cried and cried and immediately (like the same day) started writing a sequel set 5 years in the future. Ha! I will probably never try to publish that, but it was fun for me to see where Eleanor and the gang were going.
You’ve been writing THE STARKILLERS CYCLE with Sarah J. Maas and posting it on Tumblr. This is such a great project, can you explain why you chose to post it online for free rather than to publish it traditionally?
We just felt like the size and scope of the project was WAAAAY to big for traditional publishing–and that’s not traditional publishing’s fault. A single book that’s 200K+ is never easy to sell, and especially not in today’s market.
More importantly, though, this project is very organic for us and 100% a passion project. With our contracted works, we don’t get much stewing time or revising time. It kind of sucks because we’ both firmly believe that good stories take YEARS to percolate into their full potential. We wanted to be able to do that with STARKILLERS–to take breaks and stew. To go back and change earlier scenes as new ideas arose. Obviously, that would never work in traditional publishing. 😉
The first book in your next series, TRUTHWITCH, will come out in 2015. Did you decide with your agent to work on this particular project? Or did you write the story you wanted before considering whether or not it was something a publisher would be interested in?
Truthwitch was a passion project. All my books are. 🙂 I’m a FIRM believer in writing what you love and not worrying about the market (hence writing a sequel to SS&D that I will likely never share or writing STARKILLERS with Sarah).
Yes, passion projects can backfire if no one wants to buy them, and yes, I’ve written things that the market had no need for…BUT the market is always changing. One day, publishers might decide they want my dark middle grade. Or one day, the market might be perfect for my diesel-punk epic fantasy. The important thing is that I LOVED writing those books while I wrote them, and that passion always comes out on the page.
With Truthwitch, I loved every second I was working on it, and I think that passion is really evident on every page. Best of all, despite having revised/rewritten it until my eyes bled, I STILL love the book. I’m not sick of it because the need to tell this story–and to tell it RIGHT–just burns inside my chest. If I didn’t have that passion, I can’t imagine how miserable I would have been by the 2000th round of revisions! 😛
What are you reading right now? Do you have any recommendations?
I’m reading Royal Airs by Sharon Shinn. I’ve been on a Sharon Shinn binge lately. She’s just SO GOOD at world-building and romance. I highly recommend all of her series!
Thank you so much for this interview, Susan!
You can buy all of Susan’s books here. (You really should!)