Monday, November 22, 2010

8 In Stores This Week (with Interviews & Giveaways)

This week features two intriguing historical fiction books by Jenny Davidson and Esther Friesner, as well as a dystopian mystery by Orson Scott Card. Read on for author insights on their journeys toward publication and be sure to scroll down and enter to win Jenny's new book!

This week's interviews

Invisible Things by Jenny Davidson
  • From Goodreads: In an alternate 1930s Europe, sixteen-year-old Sophie and Mikael, now more than a friend, investigate her parents' death, setting off a chain of events that unravels everything she thought she knew about her family, and involving them in international intrigue and the development of the atomic bomb.

How long did you work on this book?
Well, it's a slightly deceptive question! Let's just say that all books take much, much longer from start to finish than the writer can possibly imagine.... I first started thinking hard about The Explosionist (to which Invisible Things is a sequel) in the summer of 2003. I drafted that novel in the first half of 2004, then rewrote it several times before I ended up with a two-book contract. I was thrilled with that, but it was still tough coming back to write the sequel after several intervening years of life: I guess I wrote the initial draft over the summer and fall of 2008/winter of 2009, then revised it pretty heavily over that winter and spring. I am certainly very happy that it is now seeing the light of day!

How was your journey to publication? Long, short, how many rejections?
I think the hardest thing is finding an agent - they seem to have become the main gatekeepers, so that once one has an agent, it is more likely that the book will find a publisher. The journey to publication is always rough, though - the rejections feel painful, the acceptances come with further obligations and complexities that never feel that easy (but one can't complain without sounding like an utter ingrate!). The hardest thing I ever did in my life was get my first novel published (that was Heredity, which appeared from Soft Skull Press in 2003) - nothing to do with The Explosionist or Invisible Things was quite that harrowing...

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
Be patient! You have to go back to the book again and again to make it right, and sometimes you might even need to move on altogether from a project in which you've invested a great deal - but you'll always take something away in terms of skills and techniques learned. Don't write on the basis of what you think others will want, think about what you really like to read - read a LOT - and listen to the advice others give you. If their attention flags when reading, it's probably not them, it's your job to fix those bits and make the reader really stay with you!

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
It doesn't make anything feel that different! But really, no, it is still a thrill - I still remember the huge kick of getting my first ISBN, what an amazing thing!

Pathfinder (Serpent World #1) by Orson Scott Card
  • From Goodreads: From the internationally bestselling author who brought us Ender’s Game, a brand-new series that instantly draws readers into the dystopian world of Rigg, a teenager who possesses a secret talent that allows him to see the paths of people’s pasts. Rigg’s only confidant is his father, whose sudden death leaves Rigg completely alone, aside from a sister he’s never met. But a chance encounter with Umbo, another teen with a special talent, reveals a startling new aspect to Rigg’s abilities, compelling him to reevaluate everything he’s ever known. Rigg and Umbo join forces and embark on a quest to find Rigg’s sister and discover the true depth and significance of their powers. Because although the pair can change the past, the future is anything but certain…

How long did you work on this book?
Such an ambiguous question. There were long stretches where it was pure play; lots of work happened before I knew that the book was going to be. But I suspect you are asking how much time I spent typing - to which the answer is about 140 hours (averaging five pages an hour), which works out to about 35 writing sessions of 3 to 5 hours each. Toward the end, there were two sessions a day, so in total I'd say four weeks (i.e., 28 work-days). There were days off in the midst of the project, however.

I'm not sure that's a terribly useful number, though. There are projects that I've worked on for decades, if you count "thinking about" as "working." Others practically fly onto the paper the moment I think of them (Enchantment; the Women of Genesis books). All the readers see - or need to see - is the finished product, and the gestation time and the writing time are as unimportant as knowing how many days the actors rehearsed before putting on a play. Either the play is good, or it's not. No excuses, no apologies, no explanations. Ditto with books.

How was your journey to publication? Long, short, how many rejections?
This book existed only as a cool idea (a colony world divided into 19 different regions separated by walls, so that humans could evolve 19 different cultures and have a full range of human history in each) when I sold it to Simon & Schuster as a YA novel. Ironically, I had created the proposal for Scholastic, which had been asking for a sci-fi book for years. But when push came to shove, Scholastic passed on the project, and Simon & Schuster took it. So before I wrote word one, the book was under contract. As I thought about the book, the character of Rigg began to emerge, as also the character of Ram, the pilot who brings the colony ship to the new world. I began to develop reasons for those 19 regions to exist. But it was not until I developed the Expendables in writing the Ram sections that I understood just how the main novel should begin - with the death of Rigg's father. Once I understood that, then the rest of the book flowed pretty smoothly. Even though I was winging a lot of it - that is, constantly revising my outline as better and better stuff came up along the way - and there are major characters who existed in none of my plans, the core idea was absolutely fulfilled. And now I'm writing the next book in the series - you know, the one where I have to start showing some of those 18 OTHER cultures!

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
It depends on which writers you're talking about. For instance, if you're talking about Patrick Rothfuss, then my advice is, Get Me The Sequel To 'The Name of the Wind' or ugly things will start happening to the squirrels in your yard. Similar advice/threats/pleas should be relayed to many other writers whose work I'm following.

Then there are the writers who wrote something wonderful years ago, and now I don't see their name in print anymore. My advice is: Just because you didn't get rich from it doesn't mean you should stop! You were doing wonderful work! Get back to it! Even if we only get a book every ten years, your voice needs to be heard!

But if you're talking about writers who are still struggling to get published, my advice is: 1. If you've been in the same writing workshop for more than a year, quit it at once. You already learned everything you're ever going to learn from those people, and now it's just a support group, social club, or crutch. Settle down and write your novel.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
No withholding of taxes. That was a killer. If there was no such thing as tax withholding, I can promise you, Americans would never stand for this income tax thing. When you actually see it come into your bank account, and then watch vast portions of it go back out again, you'd get really serious about electing Congresspeople who would keep that income tax rate down around ten percent.

Additional Releases


Threads and Flames by Esther Friesner
  • From Goodreads: It's 1910, and thirteen-year-old Raisa has just traveled alone from a small Polish shtetl all the way to New York City. It's overwhelming, awe-inspiring, and even dangerous, especially when she discovers that her sister has disappeared and she must now fend for herself. She finds work in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory sewing bodices on the popular shirtwaists. Raisa makes friends and even--dare she admit it?--falls in love. But then 1911 dawns, and one March day a spark ignites in the factory. One of the city's most harrowing tragedies unfolds, and Raisa's life is forever changed. . . . One hundred years after the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, this moving young adult novel gives life to the tragedy and hope of this transformative event in American history.
 Giveaways

Thank you, Jenny Davidson for kindly offering a copy of INVISIBLE THINGS to one lucky reader! Please fill out the form below and leave a comment on this post for a chance to win. The contest is open until midnight on Wednesday the 24th and is open to US residents!

Happy reading,
Martina & Marissa

8 comments:

  1. I didn't know Orson Scott Card had a new one coming out! Thanks! :)

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  2. Interesting interviews. I've never read an interview by Orson Scott Card. His new YA series sounds good.

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  3. These all sound like great reads. Boy, I love this weekly post. :D

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  4. I love that you asked the authors how long it took to write the books. Excellent. A very exciting week.

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  5. Once again, great job with the interviews- I love hearing about the authors' backgrounds and writing process/timeline!

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  6. Great interviews; I love reading these. I really liked what Orson Scott Card mentioned about outlining and writing his book: "...constantly revising my outline as better and better stuff came up along the way." It's so important to be flexible, and find the neat surprises that pop up along the way!

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  7. Awesome. You guys do the best interviews. Thanks. :-)

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  8. You got an interview with OSC? Wow. Nice. I love his answers, it's so very, "Why, yes, I've been around this business longer than you may have been alive, now what?" In my head I hear a "punk" added, but I'm sure Mr. Card is way more polite than that. :D

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