Caryn, what was your inspiration for writing SANCTUARY?
I always remember that C. S. Lewis said he started The Chronicles of Narnia with an image of a fawn by a lamp post. That's how my stories start, too: with a single image. In the case of SANCTUARY, it was Kenzie standing at a porthole, watching her father's shuttle return to Earth, wondering if her family would ever be the same, with a horde of superpowered prisoners at her feet. From there the larger story grew. But I always seem to start writing from one single image, line, or character, and this was the one that inspired SANCTUARY.
How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?
This is a story I constantly tell my sixth graders, because I don't ever want them to give up on their dreams. I realized I wanted to publish a book when I was fourteen, and I signed my publishing contract when I was 37. That's twenty three years from dream inception to realization! In more realistic terms, I wrote off and on for those twenty three years, including two finished novels prior to Sanctuary. I got a lot of good feedback on them, but it was "almost but not quite." That can be the most discouraging thing: to have a lot of people interested, but no one bite. You start to wonder if there's a point. You start to consider quitting. I did quit, more than once. But I kept coming back because I couldn't stand to not write! All in all, I would say I spent about ten years writing and seeking publication -- sometimes intensely, sometimes sporadically -- before finding my niche with SANCTUARY.
What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
1. Find a balance between what you love and what sells. If you love to write young adult paranormal, that's what you should do -- but you should also take a look at the market and see if there's any hope of publishing a novel in that category. For example, I love dystopian literature, but the market is so saturated in that it makes it hard to work with at the moment. At the same time, though, I couldn't force myself to write contemporary. There are so many wonderful contemporary novels, I would be doing them -- and myself -- a disservice by trying to shoehorn into a market that isn't my passion. Write what you love, but try to be realistic about it.
2. Don't give up. It's a cliche, but it's valid. Writing is subjective. Publication takes time, and the book world moves at a snail's pace. Don't let that get you down. If this is what you love, keep at it.
3. Find yourself a community -- and take their advice. NOTHING goes to my agent or editor until I've run it past my critique partners. Sometimes the things they tell you will be hard to hear. That's how you know you have good partners. If you're not getting anything but love, you're with the wrong people. My rule is to have two or more critique partners. If one highlights something in my text and I disagree with them, I'm pretty comfortable ignoring it, but if a second critique partner flags it, I have to seriously consider that I'm in the wrong!
ABOUT THE BOOKSanctuary
by Caryn Lix
Kenzie holds one truth above all: the company is everything.
As a citizen of Omnistellar Concepts, the most powerful corporation in the solar system, Kenzie has trained her entire life for one goal: to become an elite guard on Sanctuary, Omnistellar’s space prison for superpowered teens too dangerous for Earth. As a junior guard, she’s excited to prove herself to her company—and that means sacrificing anything that won’t propel her forward.
But then a routine drill goes sideways and Kenzie is taken hostage by rioting prisoners.
At first, she’s confident her commanding officer—who also happens to be her mother—will stop at nothing to secure her freedom. Yet it soon becomes clear that her mother is more concerned with sticking to Omnistellar protocol than she is with getting Kenzie out safely.
As Kenzie forms her own plan to escape, she doesn’t realize there’s a more sinister threat looming, something ancient and evil that has clawed its way into Sanctuary from the vacuum of space. And Kenzie might have to team up with her captors to survive—all while beginning to suspect there’s a darker side to the Omnistellar she knows.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Have you had a chance to read SANCTUARY yet? Are you able to find the balance between writing what you love and writing what sells? Do you have critique partners that you trust? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!
Jocelyn, Halli, Martina, Erin, Susan, Shelly, Kelly, Laura, Emily, and Lori Ann