Hey folks, I’m MarcyKate Connolly, author of MONSTROUS which will be out from HarperCollins Children’s Books in Winter 2015. I grew up in New Hampshire (which was not very exciting), then I went to Hampshire College (yes, that place that doesn’t give grades), where I wrote an opera as the equivalent of a senior thesis. It didn’t take long for me to realize it was rather difficult to get paid for writing music, so I went back to school at Boston University for an MS in Arts Administration with a focus on performing arts organizations. Now I literally know how to run the show.
Of course all that behind the scenes work did not satisfy the itch to create. I started writing novels seriously in 2008. The first few fizzled out but after years of querying, my seventh novel, MONSTROUS, finally got an agent (the delightful Suzie Townsend at New Leaf Literary) who soon after sold MONSTROUS to my equally delightful editor Rosemary Brosnan at HarperCollins Children’s Books.
That’s the short version. There were bumps in the road at every step. Figuring out how to plot a book. Trying to grasp voice. Querying three of those seven novels and picking myself back up to do it again every time until the fourth attempt finally got real traction. 300+ rejections from agents over the course of 3.5 years.
It was enough bumps that I almost didn’t query MONSTROUS. It was a book I wrote for me. It was wonderfully weird and broke a bunch of rules. The first page appeared in my head while I was stuck in traffic on my way to dinner with friends, and I was utterly distracted the entire evening. I could not stop wondering who would say that and what would happen next. As soon as I got home, I plotted out most of the book and wrote down that first page that wouldn’t leave me alone. And oddly enough, that first page hasn’t changed since. I revised the book more times than I could count, until I finally got the nerve to query it (in large part thanks to the very first Writer’s Voice contest and some not-so-gentle shoves from CPs). And, well, let’s just say I’m very, very glad I did. 🙂
Since I don’t have official copy yet, here’s the blurb from PM:
MarcyKate Connolly’s debut novel, MONSTROUS, about a girl recreated from the parts of her broken body, the wings of a raven, the tail of serpent, and a cat’s razor-sharp vision, and given the mission to avenge her own death and stop other girls of the countryside from suffering the same fate, pitched as Frankenstein meets Brothers Grimm.
It’s been a crazy journey, and I can’t wait to share this book with everyone!
MarcyKate Connolly is an author and arts administrator who lives in New England with her husband and pugs and writes weird little books. She’s also a coffee addict, voracious reader, and recurring commuter. She blogs about all those things and more at MarcyKate.com, and can often be found on Twitter. Her debut upper MG/Tween fantasy novel, MONSTROUS, will be out from HarperCollins Children’s Books in Winter 2015.
I had the good fortune to interview OneFourKidLit author Louise Galveston on the occasion of the release of By the Grace of Todd, her very funny, very gross, middle grade debut novel.
About BY THE GRACE OF TODD:
Perfect for fans of Andrew Clements and The Borrowers, By the Grace of Todd is the laugh-out-loud answer to what happens if you leave dirty laundry on the floor . . . and don’t follow your mother’s instructions to clean your room.
Twelve-year-old Todd has created life through sheer grossness.
How did he become an accidental god?
Ingredient A: A worn athletic sock Ingredient B: Dirt from the Great and Powerful Todd himself
Instructions: Leave under bed for months. Do not clean room.
Yields: 50 ant-sized Toddlians
BUT WATCH OUT! When school bully Max Loving puts the future of the tiny Toddlians in jeopardy, Todd will have to do everything in his power to save the race his very negligence created.
MM: Todd Butroche (Buttrock to his enemies) lives in such filth that an entire civilization springs up on his gym sock and begins to revere him as something between a god and a leader. Which came first for you: the characters or the story? What was the first little nugget of an idea that made you want to write this book?
LG: My editor actually pitched the concept of a slovenly kid who spawns a civilization to me, and I thought it was a fabulously funny concept. The characters really developed with the writing and from my own life as well: I had a son Todd’s age (much less messy), a daughter Daisy’s age, and I’m kind of a mix between Todd’s and Lucy’s mothers. And yes, I had poodles growing up, although none were as diabolical as Todd’s mom’s dog, Princess VanderPuff.
MM: In the first chapter alone, you’ve got the Toddlians munching on dandruff and eating dead skin cell and toe jam sandwiches. How did you manage to unleash so much grossness in one book?
LG: Um… I have eleven kids (five of them boys). I’ve pretty much seen it all. The only thing I can’t deal with is hair in a drain. My first school visit, I was reading that bit about the toe jam sandwiches and the entire group said, “EWWWWW!” so I knew I’d hit the mark. But truthfully, even I shuddered as I wrote some of the ickier parts.
MM:By the Grace of Todd is not only gross, it is also very, very funny. What makes you laugh the hardest, and what are some of your favorite funny books?
LG: Thank you! Well, no one can make me laugh harder than my husband, who is the funniest guy on the planet. I’m probably going to lose respect over this, but my favorite movies are Elf, What About Bob, Nacho Libre, and Napolean Dynamite (I was an 80’s child.) I also love funny stories set in England before 1900–one must have balance, after all.)
The books that have truly made me laugh out loud: Alice in Wonderland, the Wimpy Kid books, the Vordak the Incomprehensible series (Scott Seegert is a genius,) Dickens, Gaskell, and of course, Austen. I like absurd, characture-y characters and intelligent humor as well as schtick. I tried to offer both in By the Grace of Todd.
MM: As it turns out, Todd is actually a pretty terrible god/leader at first. Thankfully, he gets a lot of help from his friends, his baby sister, and the Toddlians themselves. Was there a particular character that was especially fun for you to write? Any who were tougher to get a handle on?
LG: I LOVE writing Daisy (Todd’s evil genius baby sister). I just finished drafting the sequel, and she gets even more page-time because it’s just so much fun to write a brilliant and devious one-year-old. Lucy was another favorite, simply because I was such a science geek as a kid and was (and still am) fascinated with bizarre phenomenon, like spontaneous human combustion. (Lucy’s a lot smarter than I am, so I had to do quite a bit of research for her material.) Persephone, the self-styled cowgirl Toddlian was also a blast, particularly because my dad is a huge John Wayne fan and I love to read Louis L’Amour. And I don’t know what it says about me, but Max (the bully) was very fun to unleash.
Todd was the toughest character to get right, because he’s so clueless about some things. I have a tendency to inject sarcasm into main characters, because that’s an unfortunate trait of mine. But I never wanted him to seem mean or cruel, just forgetful and thoughtless at times. I wanted to be sure the reader was always rooting for him, even though he was such a lousy leader at first.
MM:By the Grace of Todd is a self-contained story, and yet, you still managed to give the book a cliffhanger ending! Can you give us any hints about what the Toddlians will get up to next?
LG: In the next book, Todd slides back into his former neglect a bit because he gets his first crush. He’s always off to what the Toddlians call the “enchanted kingdom of The Mall” in search of the beautiful new girl at school, Charity. Problem is, Max is gaga for her as well and still hasn’t forgotten the Toddlians or forgiven Todd for humiliating him. The Toddlians are feeling so forlorn they consider pledging their loyalty to Lucy instead of Todd, and so as not to give away any surprises, I’ll just say it all goes horribly wrong.
MM: And finally, as this community is fearless, we’d like to know something you’re afraid of and something you’re not afraid of.
LG: I’m terrified of popping noises: balloons (birthdays are torture for me!), guns, fireworks… The Fourth of July made me hysterical as a child. I’m not sure where that originated, but it could be because I have really sensitive hearing. I was in a play in college where flash pots had to go off all around me. My screams were very real in that scene. 🙂 And it was children’s theater, so we had 14 performances. My nerves where shot at the end of the run!
What am I not afraid of? I’m not afraid of failure anymore. As a perfectionist, I used to worry that my best wouldn’t be good enough. But as long as I know I’ve put my heart in soul into something, the results are out of my hands, and I can be satisfied. (Well, failure isn’t nearly as satisfying as success, but I’ll know it wasn’t because I didn’t try hard enough.)
Thanks so much for the interview, Louise, and congratulations on your debut!
Louise grew up on horseback in the Midwest. The only thing that could pull her out of the saddle was a great book or a game of Star Wars. The lone girl in her neighborhood, she always got to play Princess Leia, thus her mad lightsaber skills. (Yes, she had the cinnamon roll side-bun hair.) Louise even cleaned her room on occasion, but never found anything but a rogue hamster under her bed.
Louise still lives in the Midwest. When she’s not writing, she directs children’s theater and dabbles in watercolor. She is proud to say that some of her eleven children have inherited her horsey genes and all of them love Sea-Monkeys. (Her first obsession with tiny creatures.)
Mary McCoy is the author of DEAD TO ME, which will be published by Disney-Hyperion in February 2015. She loves books where crime is perpetrated and/or solved, secrets are buried and/or uncovered, and vengeance is sought and/or justice is won. She lives in Los Angeles.
So pleased to share with you an interview with the insightful and brave Courtney C. Stevens, author of the YA debut Faking Normal.
Here’s a description of the book:
Alexi Littrell hasn’t told anyone what happened to her over the summer. Ashamed and embarrassed, she hides in her closet and compulsively scratches the back of her neck, trying to make the outside hurt more than the inside does.
When Bodee Lennox, the quiet and awkward boy next door, comes to live with the Littrells, Alexi discovers an unlikely friend in “the Kool-Aid Kid,” who has secrets of his own. As they lean on each other for support, Alexi gives him the strength to deal with his past, and Bodee helps her find the courage to finally face the truth.
CJ: This is a book that takes on quite a few serious topics. Did you go into the writing thinking you wanted to tackle these specific issues or did the problems come from the characters?
CS: The original concept of the book was born out of several things, among them the question, “Why can’t I say no?” I wanted a character who deals with boundary issues as that’s something very personal to me. That question led to issues of sexual abuse and recovering trust. I decided it would take a special boy to see through the walls of this girl; that he would have to be someone who truly understood abuse, which is what added the layers of Bodee’s background. From the inside, it didn’t feel like an issue-driven book. I was trying to find the puzzle piece character that fit perfectly beside Alexi.
CJ: The book also has a few mysteries in it. Was this part of the book hard to figure out how to write properly? To have the reader wondering but not quite knowing the answers?
CS: The hardest aspect of writing the mysteries was a question of when to reveal the truths. In the original plot, Alexi didn’t reveal who hurt her until Act III. I had a long conversation with my critique partner one day and she encouraged me to move that particular reveal up to the end of Act II and let the characters have time to deal with the truth. She’s a wise woman.
As for the mystery of Captain Lyric, that storyline emerged in the effort to create juxtaposition between a negative mystery and a positive one. It’s the lighthearted part of the book, (which desperately needed a light side) but I also believe music is a language Alexi could understand from her position of pain.
CJ: Do you have other books in the works? Are they similar to your debut in theme or tone or not?
CS: Yes. I have a novella that releases the Tuesday following Faking Normal (3/5/14) called The Blue-Haired Boy. It is a prequel to Faking Normal, written from Bodee’s point of view.
I also have a second book that is scheduled to be released in fall of 2015. I won’t say too much about it right now except it deals with the power of truth in friendships.
All of my projects are realistic contemporary in genre, and I believe that whether they are “big issue” books or not, they will be tonally similar and feel like the same person crafted them.
CJ: Did you ever consider telling the book in a dual narration structure? Since the character of Bodee is almost as present as Lexi? Did you do any freewriting from his perspective?
CS: No. I never considered two POVs, and I never free-wrote from Bodee’s POV until a year and half after I wrote FAKING NORMAL. Bodee presence has to do with the way Alexi sees him. Is he perfect? No, but he’s perfect to Alexi. Keeping that aspect sacred was very important to me. It is Alexi’s view of Bodee that makes him accessible to the reader. If we were in his head too, I think that accessibility would have decreased.
Alexi, by nature, is harder to relate to because she can’t clearly see herself. While that’s realistic for someone who has been through her circumstances, I wanted to craft someone very transparent to sit opposite her. Bodee fit the bill.
CJ: As someone in the throes of a revising process myself, I’d love to hear a bit about yours. How much drafting did you do for this novel? Did it change much from the selling point to the final version?
CS: I’ve said in the past, some books come out of the author like old, dead syrup and some like Niagara Falls. FAKING NORMAL was my Niagara Falls. Concept to completion occurred between August 8th and October 18th and the story sold by the following June. The biggest revision was to remove the first four pages of the novel. My agent suggested that those four pages belonged to me instead of the world, and I agreed. We removed them, and from there I partnered with my editor to make the language and characters stronger. For those who read an early version of “23” as it was then called, they wouldn’t see many noticeable changes.
That said, everything else I’ve worked on has been old, dead syrup and revision has actually been re-writing and re-visioning. The Blue-Haired Boy took me five complete drafts; tossing 200 pages of writing in January alone. My second book has also had four complete re-writes, (1200 plus pages of circular file material), and it hasn’t made it to my editor yet … so I’m preparing for more.
Someone asked me for a quote on revision recently and this is what I said:
“Revising is like getting a washing machine for Christmas. It sucks as a gift, but it’s a necessary evil if you want things clean.” – Courtney Stevens
CJ: Is there anything else you would like our readers to know about you or about Faking Normal?
CS: I’d love for them to watch the youtube video if they have three minutes. Here’s the link:
CJ: And, lastly, as this community is fearless, we’d like to know something you’re afraid of, and something you’re not afraid of.
CS: I’m terribly afraid of being afraid. Truly. i.e. I don’t pass out over needles or pain (I have tattoos), but I recently passed out at the doctor before he ever hit me with the needle because I was scared it might hurt. It didn’t, but I still passed out.
I am not afraid of revising.
CJ: Thanks Courtney!
Cordelia Allen Jensen graduated with a MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts in 2012. Cordelia’s YA Novel in Verse, SKYSCRAPING, is forthcoming from Philomel/Penguin in early 2015. Cordelia was Poet Laureate of Perry County in 2006 & 2007. She’s a Writer in Residence at The Big Blue Marble Bookstore in Philadelphia where she teaches creative writing classes for kids & teens and does author interviews for their blog. Cordelia is represented by Sara Crowe of Harvey Klinger, Inc. You can find her at www.cordeliajensen.com and on Twitter @cordeliajensen
Hi! I’m the author of THE ONE THING, my YA contemporary debut with Disney-Hyperion, coming in 2015. I’d like to say that I’ve always known I’d become a writer. But the truth is, I sort of toppled into writing when my main character, Maggie, weaseled her way into my brain and refused to leave. That said, I began writing THE ONE THING because I wanted to get Maggie’s story out of my head. (By “get Maggie’s story out of my head” I mean scratching illegible words onto lined paper, napkins, grocery store receipts, and the backs of envelopes. I was rather organized.) Several months later, I leafed through my high-tech notes and quietly closet-wrote THE ONE THING. I was surprised to find that everything actually gelled into something I truly loved and wanted to share. As of yet, I don’t have an official blurb for the story, but here’s my Publisher’s Marketplace announcement:
Marci Curtis’s debut THE ONE THING, about a blind juvenile delinquent whose life falls apart when she uncovers the truth about the precocious young boy she’s grown to love, to Emily Meehan at Disney-Hyperion, with Laura Schreiber editing, at auction, by Kathleen Rushall at Marsal Lyon Literary Agency (World English).
I’m not going to lie, writing this story was challenging. I couldn’t just slap on a blindfold, fumble around for a few hours, and understand what the visually impaired go through on a daily basis. It took a lot of research, brainstorming, and imagery to keep everything in check—and to keep Maggie’s visual impairment from becoming the focus of the novel. Because THE ONE THING is not a story about being blind. It’s a story about resolve, about tenacity, about digging deeper than you ever thought possible to stand up to what life hands you. And above all, it’s about discovering that adversity doesn’t change you and it doesn’t define you—it reveals you.
In my other life, I work in radiology as a mammographer/MRI technologist. Translation: I squash squash SQUASH breasts and cram people into small, noisy tubes. The plus side? Severely uncomfortable people are happy to show you…erm…true character. And seeing real, honest-to-goodness character comes in rather handy when writing novels. Given that most of my adult life has been spent in a lab coat, I feel oddly as though I’ve tumbled out of a third-story hospital window to arrive where I am today—blinky-eyed and awestruck and thrilled, standing alongside this talented group of Fearless Fifteeners.
Marci Curtis grew up in Northern California, where she went to college, met an amazing guy in a military uniform, and then proceeded to follow him around the United States until he married her. Two college-aged kids and one dachshund later, she lives in Maryland, where she laughs too loudly and eats peanut butter off spoons. Her YA contemporary debut, THE ONE THING, comes out in 2015 via Disney-Hyperion. Learn more about her at Marcilyncurtis.com.
So excited to share our interview with OneFourKidLit author Gayle Rosengren, whose MG historical, WHAT THE MOON SAID, comes out today!
About WHAT THE MOON SAID:
Thanks to her superstitious mother, Esther knows some tricks for avoiding bad luck: toss salt over your left shoulder, never button your shirt crooked, and avoid black cats. But even luck can’t keep her family safe from the Great Depression. When Pa loses his job, Esther’s family leaves their comfy Chicago life behind for a farm in Wisconsin.
Living on a farm comes with lots of hard work, but that means there are plenty of opportunities for Esther to show her mother how helpful she can be. She loves all of the farm animals (except the mean geese) and even better makes a fast friend in lively Bethany. But then Ma sees a sign that Esther just knows is wrong. If believing a superstition makes you miserable, how can that be good luck?
KV: Congratulations on the release of WHAT THE MOON SAID! What inspired you to write it?
GR: Thanks so much, Krista. The release date seemed so far away for so long that I can hardly believe it’s really here!
The story was inspired by the sharp contrasts I observed between my mother’s and my grandmother’s parenting styles. My grandmother lived with us for most of my childhood and looked after me while Mom was at work, so in a way she was a part-time mother to me as well as a grandmother. And although she was never unkind, she wasn’t warm and cuddly either.
My mother, on the other hand, was generous with hugs and kisses and often said “I love you.” At some point it struck me that my mother’s frequent demonstrations of affection to my brothers and me were possibly a reaction to not experiencing these signs of love herself when she was a girl–and having missed them. l didn’t realize it at the time, but this was the first tiny seed of inspiration for WHAT THE MOON SAID.
KV: As a budding genealogist, I love how this story is a product of your heritage. Can you talk a little more about the influence that your mother and grandmother had on WHAT THE MOON SAID?
GR: My grandmother emigrated from Russia when she was eighteen and brought all kinds of superstitious beliefs with her, just like the character of Ma in my book. When I got older I came to realize that the often gruff and never cuddly grandmother of my childhood in truth loved her family very deeply. She was just unable or unwilling to show it. I wondered if perhaps her superstitions were what caused her to hold back. And thattriggered the plotline for the story.
KV: Could you share with us the names of some children’s authors, and perhaps some titles, that you especially admire?
GR: There are many, but at very least my list would have to include Sharon Creech (Walk Two Moons and Wanderer are special favorites), Kate DiCamillo (I adore Because ofWinn Dixie), Lois Lowry (Number the Stars, The Giver, and too many others to list), L.M. Montgomery (Anne of Green Gables), Louisa May Alcott (Little Women was the first book to make me cry!), Karen Cushman (Catherine Called Birdy is so unique and funny), Katherine Applegate (The One and Only Ivan is sweet and amazing and important all in one) and Kathleen Ernst (Hearts of Stone–so moving and powerful!) Beautiful writers and amazing storytellers all!
KV: Esther is a sweet girl you can’t help but root for. Was her personality also inspired by your mother, or did you draw on other sources to flesh out her character?
GR: Esther is based on my mother’s character as I knew it–a kind-hearted lover of books with a great sense of humor. Of course, I didn’t know her as a child, so I had to imagine additional details–the cartwheels and love of make-believe for example. I couldn’t help slipping in some of myself here and there too (her love of horses and dogs), and more of Esther ‘s character developed as I saw her experiencing and reacting to the incidents within the story. Ultimately though, despite all obstacles, Esther always remains true to herself and follows her heart–just like my mother did.
KV: Esther’s mother is extremely superstitious. Are you superstitious, and if so, what about?
GR: It’s embarrassing to admit it but yes, even though I know absolutely that there is no truth to it…I still can’t help following the instructions that my grandmother ingrained in me as a little girl! If I spill salt, I toss some over my left shoulder. I never bring an open umbrella indoors. I absolutely will not under any circumstances put shoes on a table. And I never ever tell a dream before breakfast–unless I want it to come true. 🙂 Oh, and for good luck I always eat herring on New Year’s Eve or Day.
KV: Breathing life into a historical world is almost as difficult as breathing life into a made-up one. How did you go about researching the time period and bringing it to life?
GR: My research began with interviewing people who had actually lived during the same time and in the same places that the story occurs–in particular my mother, but others as well; then I moved on to reading books about the early years of the Depression; and finally I turned to the internet to seek out very specific details–from crop schedules to the price of a stamp to the storyline of the Rin Tin Tin serialized film that Esther watches in Chapter One of the book. (There’s actually a link to the film on my website so readers can watch the same episode that Esther did!)
KV: As this community is fearless, we’d like to know something you are afraid of and something you are not afraid of.
GR: I’m afraid of flying (No amount of scientific explanation will ever entirely convince me that an enormous and HEAVY airplane should be able to stay in the air!) but I don’t let my fear keep me from flying–I just make sure I have a good book to read so I’ll keep focused on the pages and won’t notice the clouds outside the window.
Some things that I’m not afraid of are big dogs, hard work, and chocolate chip cookies–no matter how big they are! 🙂
KV: Thanks for joining us, Gayle! We wish you the very best of luck on your debut day.
For more information about Gayle and WHAT THE MOON SAID, including discussion questions and teacher resources, you can find her at her website, www.gaylerosengren.com, and on Twitter, @GayleRosengren.
Krista Van Dolzer is a stay-at-home mom by day and a children’s author by naptime. She holds degrees in Mathematics Education and Economics from Brigham Young University and lives with her husband and three kids in Mesquite, Nevada. She is the author of a forthcoming-but-as-yet-untitled debut (G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, Winter 2015) and the forthcoming DUEL/DUET (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, Fall 2015).
Hi everyone! I’m Gail. I wrote DON’T FALL DOWN, which is a middle grade novel about a figure skater who says all the wrong things and finds herself starting over with a new coach and a new rink. (You can read the official blurb here.) It’ll be published by Aladdin/Simon & Schuster next spring.
I’m one of those writers who steals nooks and crannies of time to do what I love best — write. I have a day job (I’m a lawyer), a toddler (I’m a single mom), a house to keep in halfway-decent shape, and nine million other things to do. Probably just like you! After I had my daughter, I realized that if I wanted to pursue this crazy writing dream, I was going to have to make it happen. For me, that meant getting up at five o’clock in the morning to write (and yes, I’m writing this blog post at 5 a.m.!), because my brain was too fried at night to create any coherent words and time during the day simply did not exist. So, this previously non-morning-person now drags herself out of bed at insane hours to make the words happen.
But let’s rewind just a bit… I started writing DON’T FALL DOWN when I was pregnant. I’d always wanted to write a figure skating book. I’d tried once already, but that was my first manuscript, and frankly — it wasn’t very good. I pretty much grew up in a rink, and just really, really wanted to share my love of the sport through fiction. The idea for DON’T FALL DOWN came from watching skater after skater put on that brave face after a devastating competition, when you just know they’re falling apart inside. I wondered what would happen if a skater — particularly a younger, less-established athlete — said what she really felt. So I wrote it (obviously), found an agent, and now am so, so lucky that DON’T FALL DOWN will be actual book!
The publishing journey for this book has been an absolute thrill ride. And literally, too — I drove a Zamboni for research! So scary, and so exciting at the same time — and that pretty much sums up this entire process. I’m over-the-moon to be in this place and on this journey with all of these incredible Fifteeners, and I can’t wait to share DON’T FALL DOWN with everyone!
Gail Nall lives in Louisville, Kentucky with her family and more cats than necessary. She spends her early mornings writing, her days practicing law, and her evenings trying to stay up past eight o’clock. She chats about writing and figure skating on her blog Writing and Stuff, and spends too much time on Twitter. Her debut contemporary MG novel, DON’T FALL DOWN, will be out from Aladdin/Simon & Schuster in Spring 2015.
There has been only one time in my life that I was seriously tempted to steal a book.
Every job I had in college had something to do with books– book making, book selling, and book lending. (I might be a little obsessed.) The book-selling job was at a used bookstore, and it was a blast…especially the part when it was my turn to sort and price the boxes of old, moldy books people dug out of their attics and tried to sell us for exorbitant prices.
I learned really fast that “old book” usually equals “worth a penny online.” Really, a penny. That’s what some of these cracked-spine, losing-pages hardcovers went for. Which meant, sadly, I got to add them to the toss pile. But one day, I found the dirtiest, crappiest, most expensive book I’ve ever laid my eyes on.
I almost threw it away without even looking it up. The cover had come completely off and the pages were falling out. Pubbed in 1792. But I looked it up, and got dealt a jaw-dropper. It was not worth a penny. It was worth over $3,000.
And why is that, you may ask? Because it’s Jane Austen’s disputed first work in print.
The Loiterer is a periodical published by Jane Austen’s brothers when they were at Oxford together. All 60 issues were bound in two volumes when the boys graduated. Jane was about 13 at the time, and many critics believe, based on the style, that a letter from “Sophia Sentiment” in the 9th issue was hers.
I’m not going to lie. I came this close to logging it as a throw-away item and sneaking it home in my bag. Okay, not really. One time I stole a decorative rock from my uncle’s garden and the guilt tortured me for two years before I finally absolved myself and gave it back. I don’t think I could’ve lived with that book on my conscience.
Besides, the near-fainting freak-out I got to see my boss do when I told him was totally worth it.
For a brief time, I got to touch and read and smell a book by one of my idols– a woman who had been dead over a hundred years, but whose books had formed a small part of who I am. And that, my friends, is why I love books. Why I love to read them, and write them, and help people find the books that will form a small part of who they are.
It’s my biggest dream that someday, my book THE UNHAPPENING OF GENESIS LEE will help shape a person in some small way. Until then, at least I know it’s shaped me.
Shallee McArthur originally wanted to be a scientist, until she realized she liked science best in fictional form. Her debut YA sci fi, THE UNHAPPENING OF GENESIS LEE comes out November 2014 from Sky Pony Press. Her other adventures have included wrangling a group of volunteers in Ghana, changing her hairstyle way too often, and raising two small nerdlings with her husband.
Today I had the wonderful privilege to interview OneFourKidLit author Ryan Graudin, whose debut ALL THAT GLOWS launches today.
About ALL THAT GLOWS:
Emrys—a fiery, red-headed Fae—always embraced her life in the Highlands, far from the city’s draining technology, until she’s sent to London to rejoin the Faery Guard. But this isn’t any normal assignment—she’s sent to guard Prince Richard: Britain’s notorious, partying bad boy and soon-to-be King. The prince’s careless ways and royal blood make him irresistible for the dark spirits that feed on mortals. Sweet, disheveled, and alive with adventure—Richard is one charge who will put Emrys’s magic and heart to the test.
When an ancient force begins preying on the monarchy, Emrys must hunt through London’s magical underworld, facing down Banshees, Black Dogs and Green Women to find the one who threatens Richard’s life. In this chaos of dark magic, palace murders and paparazzi, Emrys finds herself facing an impossible choice. For despite all her powers, Emrys has discovered a force that burns brighter than magic: love.
JT: You write such a beautiful well-imagined world. What was the inspiration for the story?
RG: Why thank you! My inspiration was a blend of many things—traveling to England, touring Buckingham Palace, riding the London Eye, hiking the Scottish Highlands, studying Old English in college, reading lots of Arthurian lore and fantasy in general as a child. All of this got tied together into one story when I found out about a short story prompt to write a “sexy, modern fairy story.” I started thinking about what modern fairy godmothers would do and the book just took off from there!
JT: I’m always interested to know how much authors blend research and imagination. Did you do research into the real royal family? How much of your fae mythology is your own imagination?
RG: Much of my research was based on the daily lives of the royal family—ie. What do they eat? Where do they go on vacation? Where do they go to school?—rather than specifics on Charles or William or Harry. I used that as a framework and let my imagination guide the rest. As for the Fae mythology, a lot of the creatures in ALL THAT GLOWS are based on actually British Isles folklore. The Green Women, Banshees and Black Dogs are all portents of death/ demonic soul eaters in their respective districts. A lot of things like the Fae’s aversion to technology and the caste system are common threads throughout fairy story archetypes, but I added my own liberties by tying things in with Arthurian folklore and in the way they cast spells!
JT: Emrys is such a strong female protagonist. Is there a little bit of you in her characterization?
RG: Thanks! She’s very loyal and stubborn when it comes to the people she loves, which I see a lot of in myself. She also internalizes things a lot and tends to overthink them, which I’ve found myself guilty of. But there are things about her that I can’t identify with. Emrys breaks the rules a lot without much fear, and I’m a big rule follower!
JT: How was the debut process? Any great advice to bestow on the Fearless Fifteeners?
RG: The debut process is different for everyone! But one thing that stays the same all across the board is the rollercoaster ride of emotions! Having something you’ve worked on alone for such a long time out in the world for all to see is thrilling and terrifying all that once! I think though, my biggest piece of advice is to have things in your life outside of writing to diffuse the craziness that is the debut process! It’s a lot of emotional stress and sometimes distractions are needed. Like knitting or watching Doctor Who on marathon!
JT: Prince William or Prince Harry? Kate or Pippa? I just have to know!
RG: I always was more of a Prince Harry girl myself. And I love Kate’s fearless elegance.
JT: And finally, as this community is fearless, we’d like to know something you’re afraid of and something you’re not afraid of?
RG: I’m afraid of not making a difference in the world. Dying without leaving a mark. BUT, that’s being said, I’m not afraid of living: traveling the world, seizing the moments, chasing dreams. I’m also not afraid of rats. Just cockroaches.
Thank you so much for the interview, Ryan, and congratulations on ALL THAT GLOWS!
Jessica Taylor is an author and fashion industry professional. She adores sleepy southern settings, unrequited love, and characters who sneak out late at night. She lives in Northern California with a sweet-yet-spoiled dog and several teetering towers of books. Her debut, INVINCIBLE WILD, a young adult magical realism novel, is slated for Fall 2015 release from Egmont USA.
I’m the author of Hello, I Love You, my contemporary YA debut with Thomas Dunne/St. Martin’s, about Korean pop music, first love, and family.
I’ve been writing books since high school but never thought I’d get published one day, so this has been a surreal experience to say the least! I actually entered the YA world as a book blogger, where I was quickly hooked on the romance, excitement, and creativity that young adult books offer. Sometimes, I miss receiving ARCs in the mail, but I’m happy to be on this side of the publishing industry. 🙂
I’m a Southern girl from Atlanta, raised on corn bread, grits, and sweet tea. But last year, I traded all that for Yorkshire pudding, Earl Grey, and custard cream biscuits (yum!) when I moved to England. I work for a Christian charity called Operation Mobilisation, and my job gives me the opportunity to visit a lot of amazing places, which only feeds my addiction to travel.
My writing is heavily influenced by the places I go, and Hello, I Love You was actually inspired by one of my visits to Asia, where I got completely hooked on Korean dramas and pop music. Many months (and hours marathoning dramas) later, I had a book that merged my love for all things YA with my new Korean pop culture obsession.
I can’t wait to share my book with everyone! I don’t have an official summary to share, but here’s what my announcement in Publisher’s Marketplace looked like:
Katie M. Stout’s HELLO, I LOVE YOU, a teenage girl from a famous country music family, after a rough year at home, attends a boarding school in Korea only to get swept up in the K-pop fandom when she falls for a teen idol, to Kat Brzozowski at Thomas Dunne Books.
I never did shake my love of chatting books after I quit book blogging, so you can still find me on Twitter fangirling about my favorite reads. I also frequently haunt Tumblr, where I flail over things like “Sherlock,” the KPOP band CN Blue, and my only *slightly* creepy obsession with Korean actor Kim Woo Bin. Let’s be friends!
Katie M. Stout is from Atlanta, Georgia, but now lives in the north of England, where she works in social media for an international charity that sends her to fun countries like Spain, South Africa, and Singapore. When she’s not writing, you can find her drinking an unhealthy amount of Starbucks and working on her goal to fill up every page of her passport. Her debut novel, HELLO, I LOVE YOU releases in 2015 with St. Martin’s Press. Visit her on Twitter to chat books, KPOP, and all things “Sherlock.”