Saturday, July 26, 2014

3 Author Interviews with Stephanie Diaz, Susan Dennard and Laurie Stolarz!

Stephanie Diaz, Extraction

What was your inspiration for writing this book?

My inspiration for writing Extraction came from a question that popped into my head out of nowhere: "What if the moon were poisonous?" I built a world around that and dropped characters into the middle of it.

How long did you work on the book?

The first draft of Extraction only took about two months to write. But it took another eight months of revising off and on before I finished the draft that landed me an agent. A couple more revision passes happened before the book sold to an editor, and two more happened after that. So, the revision process was by far the longest.

How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?

My road to publication was quite long, but I started young. I finished my first full-length novel at age eleven and started pitching it to agents shortly afterward. That novel didn't fly (and no one else will ever read it), so I wrote another, and then another when the second one didn't land me an agent either. The third one, Extraction, did the trick. I was nineteen when I signed with an agent, and twenty when the book sold to St. Martin's.

What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?

Most of the time I write at home in my bedroom, usually with movie soundtracks streaming through my headphones. If I need a change of scenery, I'll go to the local library or a Starbucks.

What's some advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

My biggest writing advice is to keep writing even when you're afraid your work isn't good enough and to always trust your instincts. Also, read often and widely, anything you can get your hands on.

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Extraction is Stephanie Diaz's debut novel and it arrived on shelves on July 22nd. Visit her website here | Amazon | IndieBound | Goodreads












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Susan Dennard, Strange and Ever After

How long did you work on the book?

This book took me about 3 months to write and revise before I turned it in. In some ways, it was the easiest of my trilogy to write because I was familiar with the characters and knew how the plot needed to wrap up. On the other hand, it was the most emotionally wrenching of the stories. (I must've cried a million tears.)


What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?

I get up at 5 AM every day (weekends too), make a cup of coffee, and write at least 1000 words before breakfast. Then, after breakfast, I head back to work until the early afternoon. :) Some days, the writing is great, I'll write 5K, and I'll save every word. Other days, the writing is awful, I barely reach 1000, and I throw it all out the next day. But I find that a little bit everyday--no matter what--eventually gets me over the finish line.


What's advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

Publishing is a marathon, not a sprint. This was advice given to me by my agent early on in my career, and it really resonated with me. I think writers of all publication stages (aspiring, agented, debut, long career) get impatient--we want to finish this draft now and sell this book now and reach readers NOW! But there's really no rush. Unlike many other professions, you can write until the day you die. Plus, very few authors are successful right out the gate. A solid career takes many years and many books to build.

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Susan Dennard is the author of Something Strange and Lovely, and A Darkness Strange and Lovely with Strange and Ever After hitting shelves this past week. Visit her website here | Amazon | IndieBound | Goodreads














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Laurie Stolarz, Welcome To The Dark House

What was your inspiration for writing this book?

A lot of readers ask me if I ever get my ideas from dreams or nightmares. The truth is that I don't. I don't really dream too much – not that I can remember, anyway. But about two years ago, I did have a nightmare and Welcome to the Dark House is the result. I dreamed about a contest in which horror film fanatics (all of them eagerly awaiting the next film in a certain famed director's cult-followed movie series) enter a contest in which they have to submit their worst nightmare. The winners would get flown from all over the country to see the director's long-awaited, highly anticipated film. As the winners arrive, they couldn’t be more excited. The place where they’re staying has been hand-tailored to all of their tastes. They can’t wait to meet the director and see the film. This is a once-and-a-lifetime opportunity - or so it seems. My nightmare continued, and let’s just say there’s a creepy amusement park involved, but I don’t want to give too much away. You’ll have to read the book;)

How long did you work on the book?

It took me about seven months to write the first draft and then another six months to edit it (delete, add, reconsider, rework, strengthen, tighten, tweak, repeat).

How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?

My initial path to publication was a rough one. I approached editors and agents at the same time, trying to target those who worked with writers like me (namely, writers who wrote in the young adult supernatural/paranormal genre). It took me over a year to sell my first novel. I have a folder filled with rejection letters. My favorite one is from an editor who said: “While this is an interesting project, I do not feel it is strong enough to compete in today’s competitive young adult market.” That same young adult novel, BLUE IS FOR NIGHTMARES, has sold over 200,000 copies, has been translated into numerous different languages, has appeared on many different award lists, and was optioned by Blondie Girl Productions (Ashley Tisdale's production company) in partnership with Mandalay Entertainment, and sold to ABC Family for a TV series.

When I speak to young people and aspiring writers, I always tell them this story, that if I had stopped persevering, after I received my first – or my 40th rejection letter – I may never have been able to enjoy the success of my career. BLUE IS FOR NIGHTMARES came out in 2003 and it's still in print. I followed "Blue" up with WHITE IS FOR MAGIC, SILVER IS FOR SECRETS, RED IS FOR REMEMBRANCE, and BLACK IS FOR BEGINNINGS, all published by Llewellyn/Flux.

I’ve also published several books with Disney/Hyperion: BLEED (2006) and PROJECT 17 (2007); these are companion books to one another, though stand-alone titles. I also published my five-book TOUCH series with Disney/Hyperion, the first book of which is DEADLY LITTLE SECRET (2008), and now WELCOME TO THE DARK HOUSE, the first book in my DARK HOUSE series is also with Disney Hyperion.

I’m grateful to have been very busy with work after publishing my first novel.


What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc.

When I’m on deadline, I write ten pages per week, revising as I go along. I normally work at home, though I can also work pretty much anywhere - coffee shops, waiting rooms, libraries, the car. I don’t have too many requirements, but a cup of strong black coffee is always nice.


What's advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

My biggest piece of advice is to persevere. There are many talented writers who give up after 5, 10, or even 50 rejection letters. Be open to learning and to getting better in your craft. If more than one person criticizes the same point in your work – i.e. your main character whines too much – chances are you need to look at that point again. Never pay reading fees while trying to get published – ever. Do your homework. Know to whom you’re sending your query letter, who that person’s clients are, what that person’s track record is (i.e. the details of his or her most recent acquisitions), and what that person is looking for. Every letter should be personalized and reflect that you’ve done your research. And, lastly, consider joining a writers group. There’s nothing better than being in a group of like-minded writers who can help inspire and cheer you on, and who can provide constructive feedback that can help to strengthen your work.

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Laurie Stolarz is the YA author of the Touch series, with Welcome to The Dark House coming out on July 22nd. Visit her website here | Amazon | IndieBound | Goodreads

3 comments:

  1. Great interviews ladies! Perseverance is really the key! :)

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  2. LOVE the interviews!! Great advice from all!!

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  3. Very interesting interviews. I guess I'd better persevere!

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