Saturday, November 8, 2014

0 Chelsea Pitcher, author of THE LAST CHANGELING, on finding where you're story begins

What is your favorite thing about THE LAST CHANGELING?
  
My favorite thing about THE LAST CHANGELING was getting to explore the different ways people can stand up to injustice, whether they’re planning an elaborate battle in Faerie, or dealing with bullies in the halls of high school. Growing up, a lot of us fantasized about what we would do if faced with a power-hungry monarch, a fire-breathing dragon, or a demon from below. But when it comes to real-world bullies, oppressive systems, and neglectful adults, it can be so much harder to figure out what to do. So while Elora, the faerie daughter of the Unseelie Queen, is struggling to take down her mother’s corrupt court, seventeen-year-old Taylor is dealing with a fragmented family and bullies at school. Apart, both Elora and Taylor have difficulty solving their problems, but together, they might just be able to take down the tyrants in both their worlds.

What was your inspiration for writing THE LAST CHANGELING?
   
I was fascinated by the idea of a faerie attending a human high school without being able to rely on her powers. How hard would it be for her to fit in? Would she assimilate quickly? What kind of observations would she make about the human world that we might take for granted?

After that, the details started to unfold. I figured out why Elora had to survive in the human world, and what kind of friends she would make there. And when a human love interest appeared—the absolute last person her family would ever allow her to be with—things really got interesting!

What scene was really hard for you to write and why, and is that the one of which you are most proud? Or is there another scene you particularly love?
   
The opening! For the longest time, I thought the story began in Faerie. I wrote countless versions of Elora conspiring with the person who would send her to the human world. But it came off as too weird, too unusual—too high fantasy for a story that takes place mainly in the human world. So, after numerous revisions (and numerous rejections!) I finally decided to start the story when Elora enters the human world, and weave in details about why she’s there throughout the first few chapters, adding an element of mystery. And in the end, the opening is much stronger, much starker, and much creepier than anything I’d tried before. I’m really happy with it!

What book or books would most resonate with readers who love your book--or visa versa?
       
 I would definitely recommend Holly Black’s “Modern Faerie Tales” series. Black has such a talent for blending creepy, fantastic fantasy with believable real-world situations. I would be honored if my work even came close to that.

How long did you work on THE LAST CHANGELING?
    
Ha! This is the million-dollar question. I actually worked on the book for seven years. It’s the longest I’ve ever worked on a single novel (and I probably won’t be sharing the terrible early drafts any time soon!) but I’m really, really happy with how it turned out. This is definitely “the novel of my heart.” My labor of love. I put so much of myself into this book, and I’m so excited to share it with the world!

What did this book teach you about writing or about yourself?

Never give up. I know it’s cliché, but there were so many times during the seven years of writing this, so many times during the three years of querying, that I could’ve thrown in the towel. I wrote countless versions of the manuscript, and probably a dozen versions of the query. And this wasn’t even the book I got an agent with! It wasn’t until after I wrote THE S-WORD, got an agent, and went on submission to editors that I went back and rewrote THE LAST CHANGELING one more time. And that was it! That was the rewrite that made it the book it was supposed to be. So seriously, if you’re thinking of giving up, don’t. Even if it takes years, and working on new books, and rewriting until you’re blue in the face, you can reach your goals. I believe in you ☺

What do you hope readers will take away from THE LAST CHANGELING?
   
That connection is important. Connection to friends, family, significant others, all of it. Connecting to other people is important.

But it’s equally important to trust yourself, believe in yourself, and know that you can accomplish great things on your own.

And once you truly believe in yourself, and find others you connect with, you can move mountains. You become unstoppable.

How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?
    
Before the time period that I’ll refer to as The Seven Years of Changeling, I wrote a full-length novel at age twenty-two (now trunked), a previous one at eighteen (also trunked) and about 100 pages of one at sixteen (oh-so-rightfully trunked!) So I’d been writing novels for over ten years before my first book was published! Of course, the trick is that I really love writing, so I’ve enjoyed myself the whole time.

Was there an AHA! moment along your road to publication where something suddenly sank in and you felt you had the key to writing a novel? What was it?
   
The truth is, every time I have an AHA! moment, the universe throws me a curveball. So I guess the key to writing a novel is that there’s no key! Each book is different, and just because I get a great draft during NaNoWriMo one year doesn’t mean that’ll happen the following year. Different novels tend to have different personalities, and some pour out of you in a matter of weeks. Others take months or years to get right. The thing to remember is to trust your instincts. If you feel like writing the story in a non-linear fashion, do it. If you want to write the ending first, go ahead! (I actually did this with THE LAST CHANGELING’s sequel, and it worked out strangely well.) Don’t ever worry that your process is weird or unusual. Only you know what works best for you.

What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?
   
I tend to work in total silence, or listen to music if it’s the right kind. I find both Ellie Goulding and Florence + the Machine really good music to write to, especially for a faerie book! And I definitely, absolutely require lots of caffeine!

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
   
Celebrate your accomplishments! It can be easy to focus on the rejections, the hardships, the hiccups. But remember to reward yourself for every awesome draft, every pain-staking revision, every “Yes!”

What are you working on now?
   
I just turned in my sequel for THE LAST CHANGELING, and now I’m working on a contemporary YA murder mystery. I really enjoy creating a list of suspects and planting all the clues!

ABOUT THE BOOK


The Last Changeling
by Chelsea Pitcher
Paperback
Flux
Released 11/4/2014

A Kingdom at War . . .

Elora, the young princess of the Dark Faeries, plans to overthrow her tyrannical mother, the Dark Queen, and bring equality to faeriekind. All she has to do is convince her mother’s loathed enemy, the Bright Queen, to join her cause. But the Bright Queen demands an offering first: a human boy who is a “young leader of men.”

A Dark Princess In Disguise . . .

To steal a mortal, Elora must become a mortal—at least, by all appearances. And infiltrating a high school is surprisingly easy. When Elora meets Taylor, the seventeen-year-old who’s plotting to overthrow a ruthless bully, she thinks she’s found her offering . . . until she starts to fall in love.

Purchase The Last Changeling at Amazon
Purchase The Last Changeling at IndieBound
View The Last Changeling on Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chelsea Pitcher is a native of Portland, OR where she received her BA in English Literature. Fascinated by all things literary, she began gobbling up stories as soon as she could read, and especially enjoys delving into the darker places to see if she can draw out some light.

Her debut novel “THE S-WORD” is available now from Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster.

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