Another reason I'm giddy is the fact that you have a chance to win a free ARC of Wings. All you have to do is leave a comment, question, thought, or kudos for Pike in the comment section and you'll be entered into the giveaway. Ahhh, you lucky ducks!
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I've always written here or there, and I remember inklings of wanting to be an author scattered throughout my childhood. I even have a degree in creative writing! But I think the point at which I really knew I wanted to be a writer was right after my daughter was born and I sat down to write a book, almost on a lark, and I came up with a story that I just adored. And for the first time ever, I realized I actually had enough story to write a whole book! I think the moment that I had that realization is when I truly wanted to be a writer.
How long did it take to finally commit to the dream?
It took about two years after that. Life got busy and about 100 pages into my first novel, I let it fall by the wayside. But I really committed to writing as a business about two years later when I came up with an idea for another book. I wrote it, edited it, and then sent queries out. That, to me, was the moment of commitment, even though that wasn't the book that I eventually sold. I was committed to making it happen!
What aspect of Wings are you the proudest of?
I am proudest of the fact that I can honestly tell people that they have never seen faeries like my faeries. My faerie mythos came first with this series. I didn't even have a plot when I sat down to start writing WINGS. (I learned very quickly that I needed a plot, but when I started, I just had the mythos.) It's something I worked really hard on and did a ton of research for and ultimately, it is the part of the story that is always the most difficult to write. Keeping things consistent, coming up with new challenges for Laurel, thinking about ways in which the kind of faerie she is affects her daily life.It's a constant challenge and I am so proud of it!
What do you feel is your top writing strength?
Dialogue. My editor is always asking for more scenery more description, more character, but she generally loves my dialogue.
What writing quirk of yours makes your family laugh?
I always come up with my best idea in the shower or tub. So I'll be soaping up, get this great idea, and as soon as I can wrap a towel around me, I am out of the tub, dripping wet, running to my husband or mom, depending on where I am, and expounding my brilliant, if soggy, idea.
You write a lot about your husband, Kenny, on your blog and how he makes your writing better. Can you talk a bit about the importance of an editor versus a rah-rah cheerleader?
Honestly, I think it's really important to have both. But for me, I really need someone who lives with me and can hash things out face to face, who can be my critique partner. Kenny never lets me get away with "good enough." It *always* has to be the very best I can do. This summer, for example, I wrote my sequel too fast. I was concentrating more on my word count than my plot/pacing/etc. So in the end I had a mess that I was totally ready to send to my agent (which would have been a horrible mistake!) Instead, Kenny read it, sat down with me, and told me it wasn't good enough. Not nearly good enough. And then he made about a zillion notes on the manuscript for me and helped me come up with an outline so I wouldn't get so off track again. It took me longer to do my edits from Kenny than it took me to write the entire book to begin with. But it was so much better. Unbelievably better. When I wrote it originally, I was too excited and wrapped up with WINGS to notice that I was screwing up the sequel. I needed him to pull me out of the clouds. A cheerleader puts you up in the clouds, which is really great! But it takes a true critic to pull you back down and make your work shine.
How has being a mother influenced Wings?
Wow! No one has ever asked me that before! And I actually do have an answer. I have a great relationship with my mother. I have the kind of relationship that I hope to have with my kids someday. And ultimately, I don't think I am the exception. I think most teenagers have pretty good relationships with their parents. Because of that, I feel like the tendency toward parents being either dead or completely absent in YA books is a little strange, and sometimes off-putting. It's not normal. So I consciously set out to write a book in which the main character has a real relationship with her parents. They are involved in her every day life.
That doesn't mean she doesn't lie to them like a politician.;) But they are there. I wanted them to be there. Because I wanted to show that having a good relationship with you parents is normal. I want MY daughter to read it someday and feel like the relationship she (hopefully!) has with me is not weird.
Plus, Laurel's parents are quirky and fun!:)
What advice do you have for authors seeking representation?
Two things. First, through the web, authors are more accessible than ever. You can email them and get responses and even become friends! How cool! Don't squander this opportunity by dropping their name when you haven't been given permission. Agents and editors check back on that and if they find out you have used a name without permission, it is an auto-rejection. I'm not saying you can't say, "I'm a fan of So'n'so's work who you represent/edit." But don't say "Famous Author recommended me!" when they didn't. You will get yourself black-balled and lose the author as a friend. You don't need an in, you just need a great story.
Secondly, (and anyone whose query I have critiqued is going to think this is directed at them, but it's not! I see it happen all the time which is why I am pointing it out.:)) learn how to describe your book using details instead of meaningless dramatic words. I can't tell you how many queries I see that have some permutation of this. "A heart-wrenching saga of love, magic, and adventure!" How many books can you think of that THAT describes? Cuz I can come up with twenty of the top of my head. Phrases like that sound dramatic, but they don't mean anything. No agent is going to steal your plot, so let them have it! Share details! Share twists! Share bad guys! That is what will make an agent ask for more!
And when you do send that partial or full, please spell check. :)
Many thanks to Aprilynne Pike for an awesome interview! Make sure you leave your comment so that you'll be entered into that free giveaway...