A Writer in the Spotlight – Michelle Krys

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Hello gentle reader,

I’m delighted to share with you another interview with a YA author! This week it’s Michelle Krys, whose debut HEXED is coming out in June. I “met” Michelle online thanks to the Christmas In July pitch contest she organizes every summer with Ruth Lauren Steven.

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Author: Michelle Krys

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal

Location: Northwestern Ontario, Canada

Website: http://michellekrys.com/

Book: HEXED (expected publication: June 10th 2014 by Delacorte Press)

My interview (24th April 2014)

1. Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

Being a writer was one of those things I always said I wanted to do but never took any steps towards accomplishing. It was always later. When I grow up. When I had more time.

It was only once I began a yearlong maternity leave that things changed. My son slept through the night and took 3-4 hour naps during the day, and I knew that if I was ever going to write that book, I wouldn’t get any better of an opportunity try.

2. When and where do you write?

Now that my son is four and doesn’t nap, all of my writing gets done in the hour between when my husband gets home from work and before we get started making dinner. I also set an alarm every day for 5:30am with the intention of getting up to write before anyone else is awake, but I usually end up pressing the snooze button and going back to bed. But the good intentions are there, so that counts!

3. What do you say to writers who want to be published one day?

I always say the same thing: Be persistent. There will always be rejection in a writer’s life, whether you’re querying your first novel or you’re a New York Times Bestseller pitching your next project to editors. What matters is what you do about it. Keep working, keep learning, keep reading, and don’t let someone’s “No” be what makes you give up on your dream.

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4. To write HEXED, where did you get your inspiration from? (How did you come up with the idea of a cheerleader/witch?)

I got the idea for HEXED from my sister. A few years ago she told me about an adult historical novel she wanted to write, which she’d planned to call “The Witch Hunter’s Bible”. When she later decided not to pursue the idea after all, I asked her if I could use the title for a young adult novel that had been unfolding in my head ever since she first mentioned it to me. Ironically, ‘The Witch Hunter’s Bible’ ended up not being the best fit for the finished product, and we changed the title in the editorial process.

In terms of Indie being a cheerleader, I really wanted to subvert the usual gothic witch stereotype, and I thought a fun way to achieve that would to be for the protagonist to be popular and snarky rather than a quiet outcast. A cheerleader seemed like a great fit for that.

5. Why did you choose to write for young adults?

My first novel was actually for adults. One of the reasons I think it struck out with agents, besides it being my first novel, was that my passion wasn’t showing through on the page. I’d written a book I thought I should write instead of a book I wanted to write. When I gave up on the silly notion of what was a ‘real book’ and followed by heart, that’s when things started falling into place for me. I’m a firm believer that it’s obvious when your heart isn’t in it.

6. What are you working on now?

I’m about halfway through writing the first draft of Dead Girls Society, a YA paranormal thriller about a girl who escapes her helicopter parents by joining a high-stakes dare club, only to find more than just thrills—girls are going missing and she could be next.

DGS is a little bit dark, but it has the same kind of dry, sarcastic humor as Hexed, and of course, there’s plenty of action, romance, and drama. It’s been a complete blast to write!

Thanks so much for this interview, Michelle!

You can pre-order HEXED here or add it on Goodreads here.

A Writer In The Spotlight – Kat Ellis

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Hello gentle reader,

Today I’m thrilled to share with you an interview with another talented YA author! I “met” the lovely Kat Ellis online a couple of years ago and now her debut BLACKFIN SKY is coming out on 14th May.

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Author : Kat Ellis

Genre : Young Adult, Thriller

Location: North Wales, UK

Website: http://katelliswrites.blogspot.co.uk/

Book : BLACKFIN SKY (out 14th May in the UK and 2nd September in the US)

My interview (19th April 2014)

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

Oh, no. Not at all. I think my career aspirations went something like this:

Actress (age 8) …singer (age 10, before I knew I couldn’t sing) …spy (age 12, before I knew my French wasn’t that good) … rock star (age 13, when I learned to play guitar – not well) …racing driver (age 21, after finally learning to drive) …uh, OK, maybe I’ll work in IT (also 21).

So I worked in admin for a bit, then moved into a more IT-ish job, where full-on geekery was obviously a MUST, and ended up falling in love with YA films… then YA books… then YA writing. I think I was about 27 when I knew that I wanted to be a YA author for real.

When and where do you write?

I’m lucky that I get quite a lot of time to write now, and have my very own writing cave at home. The walls are lined with books, and I have my guitar and piano in there to play with when I’m stuck with my writing (or just feel like a skive).

What do you say to someone who wants to be a writer?

HOORAY! (I think anyone who puts in the time and effort to make their dream happen deserves a bloody big HOORAY.)

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(UK cover)

To write BLACKFIN SKY, where did you get your inspiration from?

I started off knowing the story’s hook: I knew that Skylar drowned on her 16th birthday, and that she’d come back 3 months later and act like nothing had happened. So, breaking all my own rigorous plotting rules, I wrote the first chapters without knowing where it would end up. And I hit the mother of all brick walls when I realised I had no idea what had actually happened to her.

So I mulled it over for a while, took a break from writing, and mulled some more. And then, as happens every summer, the circus came to town. I went with my sister and niece to watch the performance, and it was while I was sitting in the stands, amazed at all the stunts going on in the Big Top, that I figured out what had happened to Sky.

Ta-da! The rest is history. Or Blackfin Sky, actually.

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Which authors inspire you now? (=Any books you’d recommend?)

I like to read across the genre spectrum, but have developed recent author crushes on Non Pratt (TROUBLE), C J Skuse (ROCKAHOLIC, PRETTY BAD THINGS, DEAD ROMANTIC), and Patrick Ness (A MONSTER CALLS, THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO).

Some of my long-time author heroes are Lisa McMann (WAKE trilogy, THE MISSING, CRASH, DEAD TO YOU) Michael Grant (GONE series), and Lucy Christopher (STOLEN and THE KILLING WOODS).

As April was UKYA month, I got to catch up on reading a lot of UKYA from my TBR pile, and it’s been fantastic focusing on all the talented authors and amazing fiction coming from the UK right now. Definitely inspiring!

Thank you so much for this interview, Kat!

You can add BLACKFIN SKY on Goodreads here or pre-order it here.

A Writer in the Spotlight – Susan Dennard

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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.

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Author : Susan Dennard

Genre : Young Adult, Fantasy

Location: Midwestern US

Website: http://susandennard.com

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 Ever After

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.

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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! 😛

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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!)

A Writer in the Spotlight – Aimee L. Salter

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This week again I was lucky enough to have a YA author give me an exclusive interview! You may remember I interviewed the wonderful Aimee L. Salter back in November 2012. At the time, she was an agented writer with a book on submission and I asked her questions about her writing process. Since then, Aimee has chosen to self-publish her amazing debut, BREAKABLE, which came out on Monday 4th November 2013. This time, I’m interviewing her about her self-publishing adventure…

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Author : Aimee L. Salter

Genre : Young Adult, Magical Realism

Location: Oregon, USA

Contact: Blog, Twitter, Facebook

Bio: Aimee L. Salter is a Pacific North-Westerner who spent much of her young (and not-so-young) life in New Zealand. After picking up a Kiwi husband and son, she’s recently returned to Oregon. She writes novels for teens and the occasional adult who, like herself, are still in touch with their inner-high schooler. Aimee is the author behind Seeking the Write Life, a popular blog for writers.

My interview (22d October 2013)

Where did you get the inspiration for your book?

In early 2011 I was reading the website www.dearteenme.com, in which published authors write letters to their teen selves. As I kept reading and reading (you know, one of those days when you should be doing something else, but a website catches your attention and you just keep reading “one more post”?) one sentiment was a recurring theme in the letters. Many of them, very early in the piece, said something along the lines of “I know you won’t listen to me when I tell you this, but…”

That got me thinking – what if I could actually talk to my sixteen year old self. That line would be paramount in my letter because I know if we could sit down, she’d nod and smile, maybe even think I was right, but go ahead and do whatever she wanted anyway.

As I chewed that over – what I’d say to try and make her listen; what approaches I might take that might actually get through to her; it just kind of came to me. I could see these two versions of this one person, both with feelings and thoughts based on their point in life. Both with the same hurts and wounds – but different perspectives on them…

Anyway, I started writing that afternoon, more for my own interest than anything else. It was a hard book to write. But I’m glad I stuck with it!

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Your book has just come out. Can you tell us about your (complicated!) path to publication?

Gosh, complicated is right! Well, when I wrote Breakable (then called Listen to Me), I was trying to get another book, an urban fantasy, published traditionally. Unfortunately, I’d “broken up” with my agent the year before, and I was having trouble finding a new agent for it. It took another year to refine Breakable and get an agent for it.

Brittany Howard (AKA: NYT, USA Today, International and everything else Bestselling author, Cora Carmack) picked my book up in August 2012. By November of that year her own author career took a massive leap. We were still working, revising, and submitting to editors when in June of this year she admitted she just didn’t have the time to agent anymore.

But she still believed in my book and wanted to help it find a home, however I chose to do that. So, after a couple weeks of discussing, chewing, praying, and, yes, freaking out, I decided to go ahead and self-publish Breakable rather than look for another agent (there were all kinds of legal rigmaroles I’d have had to jump through, not to mention that with the editors we’d already seen, some agents would be concerned their “pot” had shrunk).

So… here we are! “Cora Carmack” blurbed my book and is busily promoting it to her entire network (can’t TELL you how grateful I am for that!) and Brittany also has a useful network of bloggers and reviewers who’ve jumped on board to help too.

All in all, there’s no guarantees for any kind of self-publishing venture. I know that better than anyone. But I also know my book couldn’t get a better chance than this. So if it doesn’t “make it”, then it wasn’t ever going to anyway!

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Getting your book out there was quite a bumpy ride, did you have moments when you thought of giving up? (If yes, what made you carry on?)

Yes. And yes. And yes. And YES. (Did I mention, &#$% YES?)

I think every writer goes through those moments (or weeks, or months – even years) where they believe it’s pointless. Or just too hard. I certainly have (and do!) but there were two reasons I never actually let go:

  1. I think this is what I was meant to do. I think God wants me to do it. I know I want to do it. And frankly, even if I never tried to publish another word, I’d keep writing – so why not try if I’m going to be carving these worlds out of nothing anyway?
  2. Every time I’d start to feel like giving up, something would happen to encourage me. I’d feel like I just couldn’t get the story to do what I wanted – then someone would read it and rave. I’d feel like my writing was poor, then I’d send the manuscript in for a critique clinic and (besides all the useful criticism) I’d get unsolicited praise for my writing. When I was (nervously) looking for an agent I got a really good response to the query. When I kept getting rejections or R & R’s I wasn’t comfortable with, I attended WriteOnCon and got several new, unsolicited requests. Then when nothing came of that and I was discouraged, I got an offer from a small, independent press. Then Brittany offered to represent me – and she turned out to be PERFECT for me. On and on and on… the number of times I’d start thinking “I can’t do this anymore”, then something good would happen…well, it just picked me up. I had to keep going. Those little stories continue to this day!

What were the challenges of self-publishing your book you didn’t expect?

Hmmm… how much time do you have? I mean, don’t get me wrong, there’s been some pleasant surprises in the self-publishing process. So it hasn’t been all bad. But I’d been researching self-publishing for two years. And I had the advice and foresight of a very successful self-published author. I felt like I was going into it prepared. But there’s some things you just can’t understand until you get into them.

Like, the fact that so many reviewers and bloggers just flatly refuse to look at self-published books. I actually knew this, but I hadn’t anticipated how widespread it was. I even understood why people did it (I have turned down more self-published author review copies than I care to count for my blog, and I don’t run a “big” blog). But being on this side of the coin… it actually made me angry. “What, so just because I have “self published” next to my name, you won’t even look?

I also “knew” that the formatting process was complicated. But when you’re working through it – even with the good advice that I’ve been given ahead of time, and the fact that I’m a genuine, advanced user of the Microsoft suite, I am surprised on a daily basis at how one, tiny little slip or miss can make such a big difference to the appearance or professionalism of my book. It’s frightening actually.

But I’d say the biggest thing, and something I didn’t anticipate at all, is the fear of and sense that I’m “going it alone”. I mean, I went into this with a lot of support. My husband is behind me 100%. I have a bestselling author promoting me and blurbing my book. I have an awesome community of writers and bloggers (like you, Eve!) who are encouraging me and supporting me.

I didn’t anticipate that, when push came to shove, I’d feel so isolated by this process. The success or failure of this book is squarely on my shoulders, because I’ve done all the work. Sure, I’ve had editorial critique, and designers involved. But all the decisions are mine. The final buck stops with me on everything.

One the one hand, there’s something very freeing about that. I can do exactly what I want to do and I don’t have to answer to anyone else about it.

But on the other…no matter what the product, there’s no one actually behind it except me. If there is criticism, I can’t say “well, such-and-such made me do that”, and if there’s failure I can’t say “well, the press should have do thus-and-so.” It’s just me.

Of course, if there’s success, I get the kudos too. But let’s be honest, failure is a MUCH more likely scenario in this game. I’ve had to power through that on a mental and emotional level and prepare myself for it. I do feel prepared now. But I definitely wasn’t a couple months back. It’s an interesting ride!

Thanks, Aimee!

Thanks for having me, Eve.

Add BREAKABLE on Goodreads.

Enter a contest to win BREAKABLE here.

Buy BREAKABLE for Kindle, Nook and in paperback.

A Writer In The Spotlight – Rachel O’Laughlin

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Today I’m delighted to welcome Rachel O’Laughlin on my blog as a part of her Coldness of Marek Blog Tour!

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Coldness of Marek, an Adult Epic Fantasy, is the first book in the Serengard Series and it comes out today!

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Author : Rachel O’Laughlin
Genre : Epic Fantasy
Location: New England
Contact: Website Facebook Twitter Goodreads
Books : Coldness of Marek (2013)

Bio: Obsessed with all things history, Rachel O’Laughlin grew up writing adventure stories and only recently fell in love with fantasy as a genre. She lives in New England with her husband and children, grows roses and tweets often. She adores lattes, The Fray, long drives in the country, and any dark story with a good twist. Coldness of Marek is her first novel.

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My interview (29th July 2013)

On Writing

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

Yes! I always knew. When I was a little kid I used to write picture books, and by the time I was six or seven I was writing chapter books. They were all pretty lame, I’m sure, but I had a lot of fun. One of my friends who has read a little bit of everything I wrote through the years claims my signature event is a kidnapping. “Someone always gets abducted in your stories,” she claims. Glancing through my various drafts, it’s pretty true. Why do I always have a kidnapping? I have no idea. I guess I’m morbid like that, ha.

When and where do you write?

I write for about a half hour in the early morning before my kids awaken, and then again for two hours in the afternoon while they nap. These days I tend to perch on the loveseat with my Netbook. I’ll occasionally go to a coffee shop when I have a babysitter, and a lot of words to catch up on. I’ll end up writing again after dinner if I’m on a deadline. Hubby is a sweetheart and watches the kids whenever he can. WIN!

Do you ever experience writer’s block?

Quite a bit, actually. I always have emotions pouring through me, sketchy visions of what characters are feeling and saying to each other, but I often fail at plots. I can write pages and pages of dialogue that makes no sense whatsoever plot-wise — but it has ALL THE FEELS — and then writer’s block will hit when I’m trying to iron out those details. When NaNoWriMo comes around, I fortify myself with all the chocolate and coffee and push through every barrier, no matter how bad the writing I end up with may be. It’s totally worth it. I fast-draft in spurts throughout the year, and then revise when I can look at things with a cold, critical eye. It works for me.

What do you say to people who want to be writers?

Draft something. Anything. Get your words down, and finish a whole MS. It might not be the one you want to polish and take all the way, but simply writing words will keep your brain going and your craft improving. Someday you’ll write something amazing that you want to share with the world, and all that drafting will pay off.

Is it better to outline and plot your novel or “go with the flow”?

I outlined my first two 100k manuscripts, then I completely went with the flow for COLDNESS OF MAREK. It took a lot a revision AND a full rewrite, but it was nice to just run with it while writing. The second book had a definite outline…but I just tossed half of that outline out the window, so we’ll see what happens. I do have a future novel that I’m outlining the heck out of and I have a feeling it will be the most epic of anything. Needless to say, my process seems to change with each project, and I’m cool with that.

Do you set goals for yourself as you write?

Always. Rewards for reaching 15k, 30k, 50k, 80k, for finishing a revision, for getting through edits, anything. Usually the reward is just a break and an episode of The Mentalist or something, but it keeps me pushing through instead of procrastinating. It’s cool when I have rewards from the outside, too. Like, my sister-in-law brought me a pound of homemade butter for finishing my rewrite. My husband is more of an endless dispenser of chocolate and delicious drinks whenever he sees me getting bogged down.

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On Coldness of Marek

To write this book, where did you get your inspiration from?

I wanted to try epic fantasy when I was about 13 but I was just terrible at it, and I swore off of fantasy.  Then, when NaNo 2011 rolled around, the cliffs and cliff men begging to be written, and I knew it had to be a fantasy. Really, the image was just THERE and I couldn’t shake it. Trzl was challenging. I felt like I knew her, because she reminded me of a tenacious girl I grew up with. Just, boom, she existed, everything about her crystal clear. Maintaining that consistency wasn’t easy, though. I was tempted to change her all the time. I had to force myself to come back to my muse and ask myself what she would REALLY do. Mikel, on the other hand, was this purely fantastical character that was hazily in the back of my mind for years and I couldn’t shake him. I tried to fit him into an apocalyptic mystery, but he didn’t really belong. He definitely belongs in the midst of swords and soothsayers.

What type of music did you listen to when you wrote this book?

I can’t listen to music while I’m actually writing, but I always have a playlist that I listen to in the off-time to give context to certain emotions I want to evoke in the story. When I drafted COLDNESS, I was listening to Norah Jones, Keith Urban, Colbie Callait, and Vanessa Carlton. But during the rewrite? Breaking Benjamin, Switchfoot, and Jewel. Oh, and of course, The Fray. Always The Fray. 😉

What are you working on now?

I’m deep in the sequel to COLDNESS, with a lot of revisions already done. It’s going well! This main character is so different from Trzl. Akkk, I want to tell you so much more, but I don’t want to spoil it, so all I will say is this: NINJA ASSASSINS. That is all.

Reading advice

Which authors inspire you now? Any books you would recommend?

Oh, my. For plots, Agatha Christie, J.R.R. Tolkien and Rafael Sabatini. For writing style, L.M. Montgomery all the way. But those are all old books, haha. I just love classics. In modern lit, I’m definitely inspired by Leigh Bardugo, Geraldine Page, and Michael Crichton. I would recommend anything by Crichton to anyone, any day of the week, but especially his book TIMELINE. If you haven’t read it, you just…you have to. Also, GONE WITH THE WIND (Margaret Mitchell). That book floors me over and over again.

On self-publishing

Why did you choose to self-publish Coldness of Marek and would you recommend self-publishing to would-be-published writers out there?

I chose self-publishing because I decided I’m not interested in having an agent represent me at this point in my career. I want to slowly get to know my audience, what they like about my writing, and what they’d like to see more of. I want Serengard to evolve somewhat organically, and I don’t have that option with an uber-competitive market and a readership that already has certain expectations. That said, I would love to have an agent represent some of my other projects. I believe I can write something that could sell on a large scale — someday — and I might want a major book deal and a wider audience reach.

I only recommend self-publishing if a would-be-published writer is ready to be very dedicated and open. It’s just like being a street musician. You’re basically sitting there with your coffee can, asking for coins for your art, because there’s no way the crowd is going to know who you are at first. You want people to hear you, and you have to be willing to work extra hard for that. Willing to put out cash you might not earn back (pay for editing, invest in a nice cover and promo), and spend endless hours interacting with readers (on twitter, facebook, email, etc). It can be very rewarding, including having the ability to plan and act out every step of the process, but I especially just love the down-to-earth-ness of this process.

Everybody has different reasons for publishing different ways. If you have good reasons for self-publishing and you know you can do it, I’d say go for it.

Thanks for an awesome interview, Rachel!

Thank you so much for having me, Eve!

COLDNESS OF MAREK is available on Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Barnes and Noble. You can order it signed by the author here. And please note the book is also available on Amazon in Canada, Spain, Italy, Germany and France.

A Writer in the Spotlight – Aimee L. Salter

This week again I was lucky enough to have a YA author give me an exclusive interview! The idea behind the “Writer in the Spotlight” feature is that authors are the best source of advice for us, would-be-published writers. So today’s interview is a bit different because Aimee L. Salter is not published yet. However she has an agent and she is awesome, so I couldn’t resist interviewing her any longer!

Author : Aimee L. Salter

Genre : Young Adult, Magical Realism

Location: New Zealand

Contact: Blog, Twitter

Bio: Hailing from the Pacific Northwest, but recently sighted in New Zealand, Aimee is a self-proclaimed coffee aficionado.  She channels the caffeine buzz to wrangle her young son and write books she hopes his high school girlfriend will read. She is represented byBrittany Howard of Corvisiero Literary. While waiting to see what the future holds, she is still writing, studying the craft, and learning more about the rapidly changing industry every day. Her (great) blog Seeking the Write Life shares the things she learned along the way.

My interview (13/11/2012)

On critiquing other writers’ manuscripts (Aimee is an awesome CP!):

Do you think it’s important for writers to have their work critiqued thoroughly and can you explain why?

Quite honestly, I think it’s the most important part of the writing process. Whether your critiques are “professional” (for a fee), or just feedback from experienced writers, what you’re gaining is a skilled reader’s point of view. You’re getting a heads up about where your manuscript is flawed before paying readers take a look. It isn’t fun, but it is very rewarding when you fix those problems and know your book is better for it.

See, whether you get a publishing contract, or self-publish, the end-point is a reader who doesn’t know you from Jack. They haven’t sat down and listened to you talk about your world. They haven’t had coffee with you while you ground your teeth over a tricky scene. They don’t love you and care about your personal success. They’re just looking for a good read. And if your book doesn’t provide that, they’ll move on.

The best kind of critique comes from a writer who has some technical skill, but is also an avid reader. They can assess your book from a reader’s point of view – but offer advice as a writer. They’ll highlight areas of your plot, characterisation or pacing that a reader may find distracting, implausible, or just plain boring.

If you can’t handle the idea of someone telling you your book isn’t perfect, then you want to think really carefully about whether or not you’re cut out for publishing. Regardless of how you publish, you’ll get feedback from readers. Personally, I feel being critiqued in the safety of the hands of another writer who’s helping me make my book better is a much better option than putting my book out there and having readers tell me they don’t like it.

Did you learn anything from critiquing other writers’ WIP?

I learn tons. And I really mean that. The other side of the critiquing coin is that because we’re all too close to our own books (and we know too much about the world and character thoughts / feelings / backstory) we can’t accurately gauge whether our writing is communicating the story we want to tell.

But when we’re reading other writer’s material, we don’t have that backstory to draw on. We don’t know all the little bits and pieces about the world that never make it into the book. We have to take it at its face value. And in that, we can see flaws.

When I’m critiquing I’m often in a position to identify a problem in the manuscript – be it a technical writing issue, an implausible plot, or an unlikeable character. Because I’m analyzing the text, I get to see not just what is wrong, but how the writer delivered that problem.

I can then look through my own writing for that kind of word choice, or plot development, or narration device. Because I’ve seen it in someone else’s work, it becomes easier to identify in my own.

What mistakes do you most often see in the MS you critique?

There are a lot of common themes in the flaws of unpublished manuscripts. I’ve covered some of them in this post. But lately the thing I’ve seen most often is a tendency to over-explain in the narration, or over-state.

Over-explaining is a result of a talented writer (who knows how to “show”), not trusting the reader to understand what they meant. So they quite rightly give all the right cues (body language, dialogue, etc).  But then they round off every paragraph (or sometimes every other sentence!) with a summary of what it all means.

When a writer is over-explaining you’ll get a lot of statements like “I realized he was angry.” Or “If such-and-such was true, then that meant I needed to do this-and-that.”

The solution is to look for any statements that are explaining the progress of the plot or characters and delete them. Just let the character see, hear, smell and (most importantly) react. Your goal is to depict real life. The explaining that’s required in narration is the focal character’s emotions and motivations – not their reaction to the events around them. Those should be shown as a matter of course.

The other common flaw, over-statement, is a result of a writer wanting the reader to understand the impact of something, but not being sure their depiction gets it across. I see it all the time when a heroine meets the hero and insta-love ensues. Suddenly an otherwise succinct manuscript is rife with purple prose describing how gorgeous the guy is, how stunned the heroine is, and how her entire body is consumed with desire / attraction / fear, etc.

My best advice to anyone who thinks they might be falling into that is to pick up a few traditionally published books in their genre and analyze what kind of descriptions are used when the hero / heroine meet (or whatever other gargantuan event occurs). Note that the author rarely (or barely) describes the narrator’s feelings. They focus instead on the stimulus. Be it the strong slant of his shoulders, or the quirk of his eyebrow, the page time is given to the things that create the feelings, not the feelings themselves.

 What are your pet peeves as a critical reader?

How much time do you have? Ha! Lately the thing that’s been bothering me is the “causing” sentence structure. You know the one: “He threw an arm out, causing me to stumble back against the wall.” or “The ripple of his muscles caused my heart to stutter.” While these kinds of statements might be true, they lack real finesse. I far, far prefer a solid stimulus structure: “He threw an arm out. I stumbled backwards, coming up hard against the wall.” or “I couldn’t take my eyes off the ripple of his muscles. My heart hammered against my ribs.”

On getting an agent:

Can you tell us “how you got your agent”?

If you want to go right back to 2009 when I first started trying to get published, I’ve been through well over 100 rejections, an agent who was great but didn’t work out, another thirty or so rejections, then wrote a new (different) book.

I revised my new book a dozen times (including getting eight or nine critiques to help guide my rewrites), wrote a query letter, queried about forty or fifty agents, attended an online writer’s conference, had just over a 30% hit rate on my queries for manuscript submissions. In the end I got offered an independent contract (from a digital-only, royalty paying publisher) and an offer of representation from Brittany Howard (my agent). When Brittany offered there were other agents looking at my full manuscript, but after talking to Brittany I knew we’d be a good fit and I withdrew the manuscript from the remaining agents.

Where are you now in your publishing journey?

Right now I’ve been through one, low-level round of edits for Brittany and am just waiting for her next, more detailed round of edits. Once I’ve completed those (and if I do a bang-up job), Brittany will start submitting my manuscript to editors.

As far as the editing process goes, the thing I like about editing with an agent is I’m confident about the changes. When someone critiques me, or if I were to pay an editor, I’d still be the one in control, so to speak.

When my agent asks for changes I know it’s because she believes those changes will make my book more commercially or technically sound. I’m confident about following her advice, and don’t need to second-guess whether or not I’m going to accidentally shoot myself in the foot.

I’m sure at some point in the future there will be moments when I’ll question advice from Brittany or an editor. But so far, I haven’t hit that. To me, it’s a relief to have someone else guiding the process. Someone with some knowledge of what editors want (Brittany has also worked as an Editor for an independent publisher), who can help me understand why changes are important, and where to focus my energy.

On your book:

What is the genre of your book and what is it about?

My book is currently titled LISTEN TO ME. It’s a YA magical realism (or a YA contemporary with a time-twist, depending on which day you ask). It’s about Stacy, an unpopular, bullied seventeen-year-old who can talk to her future, adult self when she looks in a mirror. Stacy’s dealing with unrequited love, bullying, and a mother who just wants her to be “normal”. The problem is, Stacy has learned that her future self has been lying. A lot. She has to figure out if she can trust her future self’s advice when it appears her future self has been steering her away from all the things she wants (specifically, a relationship with her popular best friend Mark, and popularity / acceptance from her peers). It was inspired by the www.dearteenme.com website, wherein authors write letters to their teenage selves. I love those letters!

When I read some early last year I got to wondering how my teenage self would feel about advice I would give her now if I could. What would happen if we sat down and talked? Would she listen to me? Or would she think I was boring? Would she look at me and think she didn’t want to be like me? Or would she trust my judgment? Needless to say I was inspired and started writing almost immediately. Stacy is a character very, very close to my heart.

Why did you choose to write for Young Adult readers?

I would say I didn’t really choose YA, it chose me. My entire life I’ve always been riveted by high school stories. I guess you could say I never grew out of them. I think it’s because high school was a very negative experience for me. I think I kept wanting to go back and do it differently – or imagine it differently, at least.

My books reflect a desire to rewrite history, to a certain degree. They aren’t “my” stories, but they definitely draw on the feelings, experiences and conflicts I encountered at that time in my life.

What do you think it was THE book that got you an agent? (=what made it special?)

I think LISTEN TO ME has two things going for it. It’s “high concept” (easy to explain in a sentence or two) and there isn’t anything else like it out there right now. It isn’t derivative of something that’s already popular. I know Brittany connected with the story on an emotional level, and that’s what I wanted from an agent. She and I feel the story deeply for different reasons, but she “gets it” like I do. I had several agents who rejected it, but also noted that they’d been moved emotionally by the character and the story. So… I guess it makes people feel. That was always my goal, so I’m excited to see if we can find an editor who feels the same.

On your blog:

You’ve got a successful author platform, what is your advice for writers who are just beginning to blog/tweet/etc ?

Successful blogging takes time, commitment and perseverance. If you don’t have a passion for it, don’t do it. If you do have a passion for it, get focused.My advice is twofold: Focus on what you have to offer other people (not just your own story, but something others can use to benefit themselves) and don’t give up if it doesn’t happen quickly.

On a practical level, use platforms like Twitter and Facebook to connect with people. They aren’t just signposts for your blogposts or your books. They are places to get to know people and let them get to know you. The more time you spend just communicating with people, the more loyal your following will be. And when they’re loyal, they’ll do your promotion for you so you don’t have to.

It took me two years to gain over 500 followers (I’m now just cresting 3000 genuine followers on Twitter, too).  I don’t think my numbers are anything “special”, but they’re solid enough now to create a sense of community. In order to do that I’ve committed time almost every day for two years to talk with people on twitter, comment on blogs, follow blogs / twitter, offer useful information on my blog, and answer emails, etc that people send to me.

It’s a lot of work. But it’s rewarding when you start getting some traction. So, just keep going!

Thanks Aimee!

Thanks for having me, Eve!

A Writer in the Spotlight – Anna Carey

This week again I was lucky enough to have a YA author give me an exclusive interview! The idea behind the “Writer in the Spotlight” feature is that published (and bestselling) authors are the best source of advice for us, would-be-published writers. Today’s interview is with the amazing Anna Carey. Between her busy schedule and emails lost in spam folders, there were times when I thought I would never get this interview, but Anna was SUPER kind and I’m very happy that you can read her answers to my questions today!

Author : Anna Carey

Genre : Young Adult, Dystopian, Contemporary

Location: Los Angeles, USA

Contact: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Books : The Sloan Sisters series (2009), the Eve trilogy: Eve (2011), Once (2012), Rise (2013)

Bio: Anna Carey has been a gift wrapper, face painter, nanny, horrific cocktail waitress, sofa saleswoman and children’s book editor. She graduated from New York University and has an MFA in fiction from Brooklyn College. She currently lives in Los Angeles, where she can be found writing, reading, and doodling on the giant chalkboard in her kitchen.

My interview (08/11/2012)

On writing:

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

I always knew I wanted to be a writer, though it took me nearly a decade to say those words out loud. Growing up I didn’t know any authors, had never been to a book talk or had a writer visit my school. That life seemed like an impossible dream.

When and where do you write?

As much as I try to keep a set schedule, this changes from book to book. My preference is to write at home, on my couch, in yoga pants. It usually takes me eight hours to get five solid hours of work done. I’ve gone through periods where things are different, where I work predominantly in coffee shops or only at night, but the eight hour rule has always proved true.

What do you say to people who want to be writers?

First off, read as much as you can. You learn so much about characters, story, and plot just from reading well crafted books. We’re lucky that there are so many books on writing out there (On Writing by Stephen King, The Faith of a Writer by Joyce Carol Oates, Burning Down the House by Charles Baxter). Add these to your reading list.

Secondly, write as much as you can and finish whatever you start. Strangely, this is the hardest part. Try not to get discouraged by unwieldy first drafts. Try not to judge. Once you finish there will be time to cut, add, rewrite and perfect. Until then…it’s impossible to revise a blank page.

Lastly: Find a few readers you trust. Share your work and learn how to listen to criticism. A useful comment feels like an arrow hitting it’s mark.

On the “Eve” trilogy:

To write these books, where did you get your inspiration from? Were you aware of the coming dystopian trend in YA literature when you wrote “Eve”?

Eve started with a question: What happens when you discover everything you learned is a lie? Would you have the courage to relearn your life?

Publishing is a slow industry. It can take over a year (sometimes two) for a book to go from finished manuscript to published work. That said, once you’re aware of a trend it’s generally too late to write with it. I’m like most of the authors who are writing dystopian now. When I started Eve dystopian wasn’t a huge trend. The first book of The Hunger Games was out, but it wasn’t what it is now. I wrote the story I was interested in, and fortunately the timing was right.

On reading:

Which authors inspire you now?

I just read The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith, which is creepy and magnificent. If I Stay by Gayle Forman is one of my favorite YA reads, my go-to “if you haven’t read this READ THIS”. Right now I’m on a bit of a Gillian Flynn kick. I finished Gone Girl and am now reading Sharp Objects, one of her earlier books.

Thanks, Anna, for an awesome interview!

Anna’s books are available from Amazon here.

A Writer in the Spotlight – Meagan Spooner

This week again I was lucky enough to have a YA author give me an exclusive interview! The idea behind the “Writer in the Spotlight” feature is that published (and bestselling) authors are the best source of advice for us, would-be-published writers. Today’s interview is with debut author Meagan Spooner. Her Dystopian novel, Skylark, is out now. Her science fiction novel, These Broken Stars (co-authored with Amie Kaufman), will be out in 2013.

Author : Meagan Spooner

Genre : Young Adult, Dystopian & Fantasy

Location: Northern Virginia

Contact: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Books : Skylark (2012), These Broken Stars (2013)

Bio: Meagan Spooner grew up reading and writing every spare moment of the day, while dreaming about life as an archaeologist, a marine biologist, an astronaut. She graduated from Hamilton College in New York with a degree in playwriting, and has spent several years since then living in Australia. She’s traveled with her family all over the world to places like Egypt, South Africa, the Arctic, Greece, Antarctica, and the Galapagos, and there’s a bit of every trip in every story she writes.She currently lives and writes in Northern Virginia, but the siren call of travel is hard to resist, and there’s no telling how long she’ll stay there. In her spare time she plays guitar, plays video games, plays with her cat, and reads.

My interview (01/10/2012):

On writing:

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

Yes. As long as I can remember, anyway. I was very young when I first decided I wanted to be an author–about four years old or so. I had one of those little-kid epiphanies where I suddenly realized that real people wrote the books I liked to read, and that blew my mind. You know how it is when you’re small, you never really think about where things come from. Well, when I realized that books were made by actual people, I decided that’s what I wanted to do some day. I’ve always had other aspirations along the way as well, but writing has been the only one I constantly aspired to.

When and where do you write?

Whenever I can/need to, and wherever I happen to be. I know that’s a boring answer, because people love to hear about the routine, but the truth is that once you start juggling deadlines for multiple books and series at every stage of the process, you can’t really afford to be precious about your routine. Ideally I like to write at my desk when I’m alone in my apartment, and that tends to be where I get the bulk of my work done. But I write on my netbook when I’m traveling, and I write by hand occasionally when I’ve got something flowing and no computer nearby. (This happens most often when I’m driving somewhere, and I end up having to pull over to the side of the road and write on napkins and receipts. Seriously.)

What do you say to people who want to be writers? How difficult is it to get published?

That’s kind of a tough question to answer because there are so many factors–it’s not just a level of difficulty on a scale from 1 to 10 that’s the same for everyone. Do you read a lot? Have you been writing for a long time? Do you pay attention to what other authors do and try to utilize those tools in your own writing? Are you talented? Do you work hard? Are you driven and dedicated? If the answer to most of those things is “yes,” then you’ve got a pretty good chance of being published. Yes, there’s luck involved–hitting the right agent/publisher with the right story at the right time–but most of it is hard work and being willing to improve yourself. You have to walk this incredibly fine line between being arrogant enough to keep thinking you can do it even when you get shot down over and over again, while also being humble enough to accept and incorporate criticism, and grow your craft.

 

On “Skylark”:

To write this book, where did you get your inspiration from? Were you aware of the coming dystopian trend in YA literature when you wrote it?

I wasn’t aware, no. I’d read THE HUNGER GAMES but wasn’t really paying attention to the YA market when I got the idea (which you can read more about here), because I wasn’t particularly driven to get published at that time. It was only after I had the idea for SKYLARK that I knew it was The Book, and I started keeping an eye on what was going on out there. The truth is, even then I had no particular view on the dystopian craze, because to me, SKYLARK isn’t really dystopian literature. There are elements that it shares with many dystopian stories, so it often gets called dystopian (even by me when I’m describing it simply) and shelved that way. But structurally it’s the Hero’s Journey, through and through–it’s fantasy, not science fiction.

Why did you choose to write for Young Adults?

Joss Whedon, one of my writing idols, often gets asked why he writes strong female characters. His response is “Because you’re still asking me that question.” Why write for young adults? Why NOT write for young adults? Why would anybody not want to write for young adults? For one thing, you won’t find a more riveted and dedicated audience anywhere. No one reads like kids and teenagers read, with such investment and heart.

But to me, being a teenager is all about having real choices for the first time in your life, and having to make those choices without necessarily knowing where they’ll lead you. And choice is what all good stories are really about, deep down. The choices protagonists make, and where those choices take them.

What are you working on now?

Everything. Okay, that’s not a helpful response, but that’s pretty much what it feels like. I’m revising book two of the SKYLARK trilogy, planning book three, doing copy edits on THESE BROKEN STARS, and writing the first draft of the second book in that series. And yes, all at the same time. If I had extra time, or if suddenly all my contracted work just vanished, I’d be working on a Beauty and the Beast retelling that I began way back when I first sent out query letters for SKYLARK. It was going to be my next project, in case SKYLARK (then called THE IRON WOOD) didn’t land me an agent. Two years later and I haven’t gotten to finish it yet! Someday. 😉

 

Reading advice:

Which authors inspire you now? Which YA books would recommend?

For dystopian fiction, I’d recommend THE GIVER by Lois Lowry. For science fiction, I’d recommend ENDER’S GAME by Orson Scott Card. For fantasy, I’d point you toward THE LAST UNICORN by Peter S. Beagle, or if you want a more recent book, GRACELING (and its companion novels) by Kristin Cashore.

As far as authors go, Tamora Pierce, Robin McKinley, Patricia C. Wrede, and Diana Wynne Jones have always been huge inspirations for me. I go back to them constantly whenever I lose sight of what I’m doing, or why I’m working so hard to do it.

Thanks, Meagan, for an awesome interview!

SKYLARK is available from Amazon here.

A Writer in the Spotlight – Susan Dennard

Something Strange and Deadly, a YA historical novel with zombies and a steampunk vibe, is out TODAY! And I have the pleasure to interview debut author Susan Dennard about the release and her writing process. As a reminder, the idea behind the “Writer in the Spotlight” feature is that published authors are the best source of advice for us, would-be-published writers.

Author : Susan Dennard

Genre : Young Adult, Fantasy

Location: Germany

Website: http://susandennard.com

Official Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bnQuHXPTUP0&feature=youtu.be

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4499623.Susan_Dennard

Twitter: www.twitter.com/stdennard

Books : Something Strange and Deadly series: Something Strange and Deadly (2012), A Darkness Strange and Lovely (2013) from Harper Teen.

My interview (22/07/2012):

On writing

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

I can’t say that I ALWAYS knew. I didn’t start putting my daydreams onto paper until I was around 13 or so. After that, all my dreams of a becoming a marine biologist vanished in my obsession with writing (though I was a TERRIBLE writer). Of course, I was such a snotty teen, though, that I refused to be taught–I didn’t want to learn to write since I thought I was already amazing. Ha! Then, when I went off to school to major in creative writing, I got side-tracked by marine biology. Funny how those things work!

I still love science and the marine world. College and graduate school were amazing experiences. In fact, the only reason I returned to writing was because my husband and I would have to live apart if I pursued my PhD. So–rather than separate–I moved with him to Germany, started writing (and studying the craft of writing) full-time, and the rest is history! 😉

When and where do you write?

I write in my office everyday. Or…I do something writing-related everyday. I’m very strict about this. My rule is that if my husband is working, I ought to be too! So either I’m BICHOK-ing (butt-in-chair, hands-on-keyboard), revising, or working on “administrative stuff” (emails, blogging, self-promotion, etc.).

What do you say to people who want to be writers?

Do it! Sit down and write. That’s the only way to achieve your dreams–but make sure you dream big too! I think success is three-part: aiming high, working hard, and not giving up. It’s so EASY to let dreams slide away when things take a while or don’t work out as you’d hoped. But you CAN’T give up. My mantra before I was published and to this day is: “It’s not a race. You know what you want, Sooz, so just keep on plugging away until you get there.”

I want to share my stories with as many people as possible, and so that’s what I’m trying to do!

On Something Strange and Deadly

To write this book, where did you get your inspiration from? (How did you come up with a historical novel with zombies?!)

Well, the initial premise came from a dream. My brother was missing; I knew I’d do anything to save him; and the only people who could help  mewere a ragtag team of outcasts. I took that idea and fleshed it out. I knew I wanted a paranormal/creepy element, and I settled on ghosts and corpses after rummaging through what scared me most! It sounds so silly, but honestly, I scanned my shelves trying to pick out which books made my skin crawl. If I was scared, then surely I could transfer that fear onto the page–and nothing creeps me out more than ghouls and zombies!

The historical aspect–specifically 1876–came about because I knew I wanted a steampunk vibe (but not 100% steampunk). I adore 19th century literature and history, and after some preliminary research, I discovered the Centennial Exhibition (the first American World’s Fair). I thought, “Whoa! What a great place for walking corpses! What if…what if my team of outcasts are actually zombie-fighters brought in to protect the Exhibition?”

And that, my friends, is how Something Strange and Deadly came to be.

Why did you choose to write for young adults?

I’m not sure I ever consciously set out to write YA…I just knew I wanted to write a book that I would love. And of all the books I’ve read, the ones that stay with me the most are the books I enjoyed growing up and during my teen years. I knew I wanted to write THAT sort of book, and so…I did! 🙂

 What are you working on now?

Right now, I’m writing the third book in the Something Strange and Deadly series (so weird to work on it when book 1 isn’t even out yet!) as well as a novella set before the events in the trilogy. I’m also working on some other projects–Screechers, an epic fantasy in a desert world; an untitled space opera with author Sarah Maas (Throne of Glass, Bloomsbury 2012); and a fluffy, fun contemporary.

You can buy Something Strange and Deadly on Amazon here. And you can enter the Something Strange and Deadly Outbreak giveaway here.

A Writer in the Spotlight – Lisa M. Stasse

This week again I was lucky enough to have a YA author give me an exclusive interview! The idea behind the “Writer in the Spotlight” feature is that published (and bestselling) authors are the best source of advice for us, would-be-published writers. Today’s interview is with debut author Lisa M. Stasse. Her Dystopian novel,  The Forsaken, is already available in the US and it will be out in the UK on August 2d, 2012.

 

Author : Lisa M. Stasse

Genre : Young Adult, Dystopian

Website: www.lisamstasse.com

Official Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GtIwks26SZU

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12987192-the-forsaken

Twitter: www.twitter.com/lisamstasse

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lisamstasse

Books : The Forsaken (2012)

My interview (22/07/2012):

On writing:

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

Yep, ever since I was in high school. Either a writer or a photographer.

When and where do you write?

I usually write on my laptop in the early hours of the morning (or late at night, depending on how one looks at it!)

Do you ever experience writer’s block?

It hasn’t hit me yet. I hope it never does! I figure it might one day, but hopefully that will be many years and many books from now. 🙂

What do you say to people who want to be writers?

I tell them to read as many books as possible (which is some good advice I got from writers I admired when I asked them) and to write a little bit every single day. I read 3-5 books/week–a mix of YA and adult fiction, with a little bit of nonfiction in there too (I love travel books).

Is it better to outline and plot your novel or “go with the flow”?

I plot everything out because I’m crazy obsessive, but at the same time, I leave some wiggle room to come up with cool scenes and surprises along the way. If everything is too well-planned, then writing scenes can get boring and then the story can lose some energy.

Do you set goals for yourself as you write?

Definitely! I usually try to write a certain number of pages per day (depending on the day and the project) and I often reward myself with coffee or chocolate if I reach my goal. Of course, I often drink coffee and eat chocolate even when I don’t reach my goal, so I’m not sure how well my incentive plan is working out for me! 🙂

 

On “The Forsaken”:

To write this book, where did you get your inspiration from? Were you aware of the coming dystopian trend when you wrote it?

When I was writing The Forsaken, a few dystopian books were a big deal (The Hunger Games, The Forest of Hands and Teeth, The Maze Runner) but there wasn’t a huge onslaught like there is now. I pretty much wrapped up most of my book in 2010/early 2011. Books just take a while to come out. Having said that, I kind of love the giant wave of dystopian lit. It means people have a lot of choice in what they decide to read.

How did you come up with your characters? What made you choose teenagers as main characters?

Maybe I’m still a teenager at heart! And I think that that age is so great for writing complex characters–I remember when I was 16, I was a total conflicted mixture of extreme optimism and extreme pessimism. I also think teens make great characters as protagonists in a dystopian novel. Dystopians can deal with really serious and intense issues.

What type of music did you listen to when you wrote this book?

My musical tastes are all over the map, from indie rock (The Dirty Projectors, Ryan Adams, Cornershop, Long Winters) to dubstep (Deadmau5, Skrillex) and dance (La Roux), to old school classic rock (Beatles, Neil Young) and to really weird stuff as well (Salem). I also love Florence and the Machine, as well as a lot of singer-songwriters (Cat Power and Feist).

What are you working on now?

I’m finishing up copyedits on Book 2 of THE FORSAKEN trilogy.

 

Reading advice:

Which authors inspire you now?

Margaret Atwood, Suzanne Collins, James Dashner, JK Rowling, Orson Scott Card, Stephen King, Carrie Ryan, Tahereh Mafi, Jeanette Winterson, Leigh Bardugo, Veronica Rossi, and Veronica Roth.

Any YA books you would recommend?

Divergent, Looking for Alaska, Shadow and Bone, The Hunger Games (obviously!), Paper Towns, The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Shatter Me, Ender’s Game, The Maze Runner (and there’s probably a hundred more but those are the one off the top of my head!).

Thanks for the interview Lisa!

THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME!!! I really appreciate it–it was fun!!! 🙂

The Forsaken will be out in the UK on August 2d, 2012. Buy it on Amazon here.