Tuesday, January 8, 2019

0 Abigail Johnson, author of EVEN IF I FALL, on writing a synopsis first

We're excited to have Abigail Johnson stop by to tell us more about her latest novel, EVEN IF I FALL.

Abigail, what was your inspiration for writing EVEN IF I FALL?

Every book idea I’ve had has come from a different source whether it was a single scene that popped into my head of a girl sitting on her roof at night talking to the boy next door (If I Fix You) or an article about a DNA test that accidentally revealed an unknown sibling (The First to Know). The inspiration behind Even If I Fall came from the simplest of writing prompts from one of my critique partners: write a summer love story. At the time—several years ago—I had no idea that little 700-word flash fiction story would become the basis for a novel or that so many of the details and even exact scenes and lines would find their way into the final book.

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?

Without any spoilers, there’s a scene towards the end of the book where Brooke is visiting her brother in prison that gutted me to write. I probably tried a dozen different versions of it—some went too far, others didn’t go far enough—before hitting on the version that made it to the book. There is so much emotion from both of them, unbearably hard stuff that they both have to feel and find a way to say out loud. It was one of the most challenging scenes I’ve ever had to write but I'm really proud of the way it turned out.

What book or books would most resonate with readers who love your book--or visa versa? 

I was so fortunate in getting some amazing authors to blurb Even If I Fall including Tamara Ireland Stone, Jeff Zentner, Elizabeth Eulberg, and Mindy McGinnis and I highly highly recommend their books to everyone. Beyond those, I’ll wildly flatter myself and also mention anything by Jenny Han, Morgan Matson, and Sarah Dessen.

How long did you work on EVEN IF I FALL?

I drafted Even If I Fall in about three months, spent two more editing, and then maybe one more for final polishing. So about six months from start to finish.

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

If I Fix You was the first book I wrote (not counting an adult action/adventure novel that I started and abandoned about 1/3 of the way through). It was the only novel I’ve ever queried and it was the first novel of mine to be published. None of that means my road to publication was quick or easy though. It took me six years to write If I Fix You and I made every mistake you can possibly imagine while writing it. I then queried my mistake-filled manuscript waaaayyyy too early and started getting what would become 80+ rejections before finally landing my dream agent after spending a year in the query trenches. I’m eternally grateful to the agents who took time to offer feedback and even Revise & Resubmit requests because I was able to revise and revise and revise until I got the offer—and the agent—that I’d been hoping for. Harlequin Teen (now called Inkyard Press) bought the book a few months after I signed with my agent.

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?

Yes! I wrote my first book completely blind without any idea where the story or characters would end up (the book I wrote after If I Fix You, which will be published in 2020, was written blindly too) and it took me FOREVER! When something significant needed to be changed I had to re-write half the book. Plus, there’d be days where I wasted so much time just trying to figure out what to write that I’d barely write at all. My Aha! Moment came when I needed to submit a new book proposal to my publisher in the form of a synopsis and the first three chapters. I’d written a synopsis before, but never prior to completing a first draft so this was an entirely new experience for me and it changed everything! I was able to write my entire story in ten pages or so and then changing something that wasn’t working was as simple as rewriting a few pages instead of a few hundred. I was able to work out all the kinks in my story before I started drafting and I had a roadmap to follow once I did start drafting. No more wasted time! I can write a full book now, start to finish including edits, in six months versus six years! For me, writing a synopsis first is more efficient and much less stressful and I’ll never go back to writing without one.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Even If I Fall
by Abigail Johnson
Hardcover
Harper Collins
Released 1/8/2019

Brooke and Heath should never have become friends, let alone fallen in love

A year ago, Brooke Covington lost everything when her beloved older brother, Jason, confessed to the murder of his best friend, Calvin. Brooke and her family became social pariahs, broken and unable to console one another. Brooke’s only solace remains the ice-skating rink where she works, but she no longer lets herself dream about a future skating professionally.

When Brooke encounters Calvin’s younger brother, Heath, on the side of the road and offers him a ride, everything changes. She needs someone to talk to…and so does Heath. No one else understands what it’s like. Her brother, alive but gone; his brother, dead but everywhere. Soon, they’re meeting in secret, despite knowing that both families would be horrified if they found out. In the place of his anger and her guilt, something frighteningly tender begins to develop, drawing them ever closer together.

But when a new secret comes out about the murder, Brooke has to choose whose pain she’s willing to live with—her family’s or Heath’s. Because she can’t heal one without hurting the other.

Purchase Even If I Fall at Amazon
Purchase Even If I Fall at IndieBound
View Even If I Fall on Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Abigail Johnson was born in Pennsylvania. When she was twelve, her family traded in snowstorms for year-round summers and moved to Arizona. Abigail chronicled the entire cross-country road trip in a purple spiral-bound notebook that she still has, and has been writing ever since. She became a tetraplegic after breaking her neck in a car accident when she was seventeen, but hasn’t let that stop her from bodysurfing in Mexico, writing and directing a high-school production of Cinderella, and becoming a published author. Visit Abigail online at abigailjohnsonbooks.com and follow her on Twitter, @AbigailsWriting.

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Have you had a chance to read EVEN IF I FALL yet? Have you ever turned a short piece of writing into a novel? Does writing a synopsis first help you draft a book? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy Reading,

Jocelyn, Halli, Martina, Erin, Susan, Shelly, and Kelly

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