Sep 30, 2009
Sep 28, 2009
Sep 27, 2009
Sep 25, 2009
Rambling to Interviews: When and how did you decide that you wanted to write this book?
Aprilynne Pike: In the summer of 2007, I was in kind of sticky position. I had an agent, but the book she had been shopping was going nowhere. So I knew that if I wanted to continue with my dream of being a writer, I needed to write another book, and basically start the process over again. So I was trolling agency sites one day, and I found an agent's blog who had reported that Barnes and Noble was expecting faeries to be one of the new trends in YA lit. I felt like I had been hit by lightning. I have always loved faeries, for as long as I could remember, and I love YA. I don't know why I had to get thunked on the head with the idea of putting those two loves together before I made the connection. But I remember sitting there staring at the computer screne thinking, "Faeries? Oh my gosh! *I* want to write a book about faeries!!!" and something in me knew that I had to do it Right. Now. I turned the first draft of Wings into my agent six weeks later.
RI: This wasn't you first novel. Your website states you had written three novels before Wings, which were all rejected by agents. Was the second round of agency rejections easier or more difficult?
AP: *laugh* No this certainly was not my first novel. But honestly? By the time I started querying my second novel, I had racked up over 100 rejections, so I think I was actually used to it by then. It did help, however, that I had a much higher request rate with my second book. Mostly, I think, because I learned how to write queries better.:D
RI: Many authors assume it's easy to land an agent. Could you share with us how many rejections (queries, partials, fulls) you faced before finding yours?
AP: Wow, those are some dusty numbers! Let's see, on my first book I sent out about 140 queries (I queried *everyone*), I had probably 20 requests for the partial and 7 or 8 requests for the full. For the second book I sent out about 40 queries and had about 25 requests for the partial and I think four requests for the full. Eventually, I signed with my agent with my first book.
RI: Are any of your characters based on real people?
AP: Only one, and I didn't mean for him to be more than a two or three line character. There is a character in the first book named Ryan who is based on my brother-in-law, Jared. Mostly because I picture him and very tall with dark hair, just like my brother-in-law. However, now that Ryan figures pretty heavily in the second and third books, I still sometimes have to pause and think, "Ryan, not Jared." In fact, even into the second round of revisions my editor found a place where I had typed the wrong name.
RI: Did you have a favorite book growing up?
AP: It's really hard for me to pick just one, because I read so much as a kid, but when I read the question, the first book that popped into my head was Avi's The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle. I still read that book about once a year.
RI: Do you plan on working on more books in the future?
AP: Oh, absolutely! I have simmering idea for my next series as well as two stand-alones, and I have a non-Wings book that is currently in negotiations at Harper, which is really exciting to me! I'm a fairly prolific writer, so I am always working on something new!
RI: Do you have any advice for young writers?
AP: Read! You will learn more about writing from reading than any other single thing. Also, finish a book. As in, finish writing a book. Being able to say, "I finished a book!" is such a huge thing. Because if you can do it once, you can do it twice, and three times, and that--ultimately--is what it takes to be an author. Finishing books.
RI: What’s the one question no one ever asks you, but you wish they would? (Plus the answer!)
AP: I always want someone to ask me about Orick (the town where Laurel's cabin is.) It's a fascinating little town that literally is in this pocket of land just off the road in the middle of Redwood National Forest. It's a neat little place and no one ever asks about it.
3 Quick Facts:
3 things that make you feel better-
Hot baths, chocolate, working out.
2 things that are considered weird-
I love vinegar. Rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar, Balsamic vinegar. Love it!!! I also love broccoli.
1 thing that you can't go a day without doing-
This may sound sappy, but kissing my husband. I have a really special relationship with my husband and even after being together for almost ten years, I still miss him when he leaves the room.
Sep 24, 2009
Rambling to Interviews: Did you always want to be a writer?
Janni Lee Simner: I always wanted to write (and always did write), but I don't think I realized that maybe I could write for publication until around the time I graduated from college. I didn't know if I would ever sell my work, but I spent the last of my student loan money on my first computer and told myself that I would write something -- even if it was only a few words -- every single day. The thought of writing a whole book was overwhelming, but the thought of those few words wasn't as scary -- I knew I could do that. (I didn't yet know how much work it would be to revise those words into something others would want to read, but there was time for that later!)
RI: What is your goal as a writer?
JLS: To keep getting a little better with every book I write -- there's always something new to learn, which is part of what I love about writing. It always challenges me, and I never get bored with or tired of it.
And of course, I also hope to keep selling those books, so that they can make their way out into the world where others can read them!
RI: What is your writing style? Outline or no outline?
JLS: No outline!
If I have a choice, anyway. I'm happy to write an outline when I need to present one as a sales tool, but it's not the way I prefer to write. I prefer to jump in and find the story by writing it. The first draft, I often tell the entirely wrong story, actually. Then the next draft gets closer to the right story, and then I spend several drafts after making that story compelling and readable. It's sort of like the first draft is the exploratory draft (where I'm finding out what characters and tensions are available to me), the second draft is the incoherent draft (where I tell the right story, mostly, but it's pretty rough and rambly), and the third draft (and the several drafts after that) are where it begins to come together. By the fourth draft or so, I'm compressing the story and adding details; by maybe the fifth I'm polishing the language.
I do think whether or not to outline is a really individual call, though. Writers all think and work so differently--the important thing is for each writer to find a process that works for us, and then to make the most of it.
RI: Faeries have been a major trend lately, yet your book manages to take a fresh spin on the subject. What made you come up with such an interesting post apocalyptic world? Was it the main character whispering to you as you've mentioned on your website?
JLS: The whole story really did come from that opening scene. I wrote it fifteen years ago now, and I still don't entirely know where it came from! I was already fascinated with faeries, and had been reading lots of early urban fantasy, and the opening ... just happened, with its image of Liza (I wasn't even sure of her name yet) describing how her baby sister was set out on a hillside for the faeries to take. I loved that opening, but it terrified me, too, because I didn't know what came next, or how to write a book worthy of those first few pages. So I went off and wrote other things, and worked on becoming a better and better writer until I was finally ready to tell the rest of the story.
It's funny -- when I started writing Bones of Faerie, no one was writing about faeries anymore, and I kind of worried there'd be no place for a book about them. I had no idea lots of other people were writing faerie books too, and that by the time Bones of Faerie sold, they would be a trend! Sometimes I wonder what it is that makes many writers decide to write about the same things at the same time without realizing it. And what's really fascinating is how when we do that, we all still wind up telling very different sorts of stories -- I love how that happens!
RI: The romance is intriguing and subtle. (Sorry, don't want to contain spoilers) Did you draw from some of your own experiences when it came to the characters?
JLS: Interesting question! I think not directly ... but I am very much a fan of relationships that begin as friendships (I'm also lucky enough to be married to my best friend), so that probably did have some influence. I figure if you're not friends, what's the point? And I also think romance doesn't always begin with sparks flying the moment your eyes meet -- sometimes it sneaks up on you while you're busy doing other things, and I like seeing that in fiction, too.
RI: For those of us wanting to learn more about Tara, Caleb, Kate, and Matthew, can you tell us anything about a sequel? (Due out in 2011)
JLS: I can't say much mostly because I don't know much yet! I'm still in the middle of one of my early "incoherent" drafts, so even the things I think I know are likely to change. I can say that we'll be back in Liza's point of view, probably during the winter after the end of Bones of Faerie. I want to know more about all the characters, too, which is one reason I'm thrilled to be writing a sequel -- writing is a process of discovery for me, and I'm learning things right along with Liza.
RI: The querying process generally deals with loads of rejection. Was your first novel picked up quickly or did you face a lot of, "While your story sounds interesting, I'm afraid it isn't right for me"?
JLS: I've definitely gotten letters like this for most of my books, and for many of my short stories, too. The book I sold before Bones of Faerie (Secret of the Three Treasures, which is aimed at kid rather than teen readers) received a large collection of rejection letters that mostly said, "I love this book, it's perfect, but I don't think I can sell it" before I received an offer. Bones of Faerie is the first book I sold with an agent, so it found a home a little more quickly, but there were still publishers who liked the writing but thought the book wasn't right for them. (But given how much I love working with my editor, I really don't regret those rejections at all -- his enthusiasm and concrete suggestions for how to make the book better have both made a huge difference.)
RI: Any advice for those looking to land an agent?
JLS: Be persistent. Do your research, and try to find out both what various agents are looking for and what sorts of books they tend to represent -- www.agentquery.com is a good resource, and many writers also acknowledge their agents in their books as well. Query agents who genuinely seem a good fit, and don't give up if the first few tries you get turned down.
Also, start working on your next book even while you're querying the first one. If the book you're working on turns out not to be right for anyone, possibly the next book (which, because we're all always improving as writers, will probably be a better book) will fare better.
RI: What's the one question no one ever asks you, but you wish they would? (Plus the answer please!)
JLS: Q: What's your favorite apocalyptic poem?
A: Richard Wilbur's "Advice to a Prophet" ( www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15485) -- I was reciting bits of it aloud long before I knew I'd be writing a post-apocalyptic novel. I'm also fond of the eerie imagery of W.B. Yeats' "The Second Coming" ( www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15527)
3 Quick Facts:
Madeleine L'Engle (started reading her as a teen and still turn to her books for comfort now)
Books you're reading at the moment-
Kathleen Duey's Sacred Scars, Kate Messner's The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z, and The Illiad
Bad movie you secretly love-
Do old (70s and 80s) Doctor Who episodes count?
RI: Yes, it does! Again, thanks so much for the wonderful interview!
JLS: Thanks for having me here, and for your good words about Bones of Faerie!
Sep 20, 2009
Sep 18, 2009
The Latest novel from "Da Vinci Code" author Dan Brown, "The Lost Symbol," broke one-day sales records, its publisher and booksellers said. Readers snapped up over one million hardcover copies across the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom after it was released on Tuesday, said publisher Knopf Doubleday, a division of Random House Inc.
"We are seeing historic, record-breaking sales across all types of our accounts in North America for 'The Lost Symbol," said , editor in chief of Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Knopf Doubleday is a division of Random House Inc.
Amazon.com Inc, the world's largest online retailer, called the book its bestselling first-day adult fiction title ever, including pre-orders.
Barnes & Noble Inc said "The Lost Symbol" broke its previous one-day sales record for adult fiction.
The success of the Dan Brown's latest is a boost to publisher Knopf Doubleday and booksellers, which have endured sliding sales in the midst of the recession. Booksellers have anxiously awaited a popular title that will resonate with readers and fuel the same sort of frenzy seen earlier this decade with the "Harry Potter" series, from author J.K. Rowling.