Saturday, August 16, 2014

3 Author Interviews with Adele Griffin, Tom Leveen, Jessica Spotswood and Justina Chen! Plus a GIVEAWAY!

Adele Griffin, The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone

What was your inspiration for writing this book?

The book was inspired by Edie: American Girl by Jean Stein. Which is still a great book.

How long did you work on the book?

From concept to design, it took about a year-- a focused, high-energy year because there were a lot of movable parts.

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

If I had any advice to give a writer, it would be to get to the end and see what you've got. That was particularly true with Addison!

Website | Amazon | IndieBound | Goodreads

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Tom Leveen, Random


What was your inspiration for writing this book?

The inspiration for RANDOM came from the true story of the suicide death of Phoebe Prince, and the students who were later charged with crimes associated with it. The story was covered deeply by Emily Bazelon on Slate, which I followed closely while it unfolded. There were so many angles to approach the tragedy from. I think that’s where the idea to tell a similar story from a bully’s point of view came from—what makes a person say and do terrible things to another person? When authors ask questions, books are usually the result.

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

RANDOM is my fifth published novel; my sixth will be out a year from now, also with Simon Pulse, called SHACKLED. I don’t want to jinx it, but as of this writing, I’ve sold everything my agent has actually pitched. Having said that, yes, I have a ton of manuscripts lying around on my hard drive that will probably never see the light of day – not in their current incarnations, anyway.

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

My writing ritual (writual?) typically involves spending 8 to 10 hours a week at an indie coffee shop to get brand-new writing done. No revision, no research, no internet, no email…it has to be fresh writing. Sometimes, that’s a page a day. Sometimes it’s 10. Afternoons I use for revision and business-y junk at home, where I’ve got a huge white board on my wall. Total blessing, I highly recommend them!

I used to listen to music while writing, but now I find it distracts me. But I do still build a playlist for every book; something emblematic of the story or characters or mood. RANDOM had lots of Azure Ray, for example.

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

My current advice is less about actual writing and more about life: If you have life partners, people you are beholden to – spouse, kids, parents, whatever – make sure you carve out time for your writing. You deserve it. Work it out with whoever you have to. Maybe it’s only for an hour on Tuesday morning from 5 to 6. Fine – but then zealously guard that time. I’m not saying to get a divorve over it – don’t! – but do come to some kind of agreement with the people in your life who rely on you. Again, you deserve that time. You really do.

Website | Amazon | IndieBound | Goodreads

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Jessica Spotswood, Sister's Fate

What was your inspiration for writing this book?

Here's my "love list" for the book, in no particular order: a Cahill Christmas scene; a sexy scene that echoes Cate and Finn's first kiss, with the feathers (but not with feathers); a rich, handsome newspaperman who's very liberal but very much a product of his time when it comes to women; a witch who won't put up with his nonsense, and the banter between them; a public hanging; Cate becoming the most wanted witch in New London; Cate dreaming about throwing Maura and Elena through a window (she deserves a little revenge fantasy by this point); a Christmas bazaar, inspired a little bit by GONE WITH THE WIND; a city on fire (also GWTW); and two heartbreaking deaths.

Website | Amazon | IndieBound | Goodreads

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Justina Chen, A Blind Spot For Boys

What was your inspiration for writing this book?

Confession: I went to 13 proms. Yes, 13. I remember telling my agent, Steven Malk, that in passing in one of our conversations, and he started laughing. As in chortling. When he finally collected himself, he said, “That’s your next novel.” But going to 13 proms actually sounds a little like the set-up for a horror story, no? But the kernel of that idea morphed into A BLIND SPOT FOR BOYS. Take one man magnet, give her some heartache, put her on a Boy Moratorium. And who does she meet? Her match. A lacrosse guy who is on a Girl Moratorium. Love at first clash.

How long did you work on the book?

It took me a little over a year to research and write A BLIND SPOT FOR BOYS. No, I didn’t serial-date a ton of men as research, but I did hang out with some pest control experts and meet a real live adorable and wonderful bedbug sniffing dog. You’ll have to read the book to understand why I now have a true aversion to bedbugs. And I also traveled to Machu Picchu and was transformed by that place. No, correction: not transformed. Rearranged. And I think the place rearranged Shana in the book, too.


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

I had a pretty typical path to publishing: I wrote and wrote and wrote and was rejected, rejected, rejected. Shortly after I sold my first picture book, a character started pestering me as I dreamed at night and ran in the morning. I jotted down the first three chapters of what would become my first YA novel. My agent was miraculously able to sell those first 75 pages or so at auction for a two-book deal. But not everything I write gets published. I just finished working for seven solid months on a book idea that’s been haunting me for the past decade—and I am not sure it will ever see a bookshelf over than mine. Even so, nothing is wasted. And I learned so much about plotting and pacing in those seven months.

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

I typically try to give my early, predawn mornings over to meditation and prayer. That just sets the right tone for my writing day. I’m plugged into a higher purpose and don’t get as ruffled when a sentence refuses to heel or a scene feels like a muddled mess. When I write first draft these days, I need to have complete silence. I find that I can hear my character’s voice much clearer in quiet. As exciting as it is to move to a new home, which I did just about two months ago, I haven’t found my “spot.” So I’m being very feline now, writing wherever the sun goes in my new home. 


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

I may be the last person to give advice since I feel like I’m a novice with each book that I write—I’m learning about the process, I’m learning about myself, I’m learning about what really challenges my worldview. But perhaps the one piece of advice I can give is as applicable to writing as it is to life: enjoy the good moments. Sometimes, I feel like all I’m doing is rush, rush, rushing. Hurry up and throw breakfast together so I can run over to my computer to write. Hurry up and throw laundry into the wash so I can run over to my computer to write. Hurry up and… Well, you get the picture. I think we sometimes have to slow down to the good moments that are always unfurling before us. Like: the conference where a teen girl gasps in utter astonishment, grabs her friend by the arm and whispers, “I think that’s Justina Chen!” Here’s the thing: the very next book signing I attend, maybe two people will show up. So relish those those wonderful highs because the lows will come and they will be humbling. Even worse, the lows can dash you and squelch your creative spirit…unless you hold onto the good.

Website | Amazon | IndieBound | Goodreads

3 comments:

  1. Lots of great advice here. I love the story of the 13 proms. I can't imagine. The books all sound great.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great interviews!! I love hearing the writing advice and the stories behind the books. It gives me such hope!!

    ReplyDelete

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