Welcome to our FIRST EVER author interview on Paper Hangover, for our inaugural post, in conjunction with our birthday book giveaway last week, and the release of the fabulous debut LIKE MANDARIN - Delacorte/Random House - I am honored to have author Kirsten Hubbard with us this week.
Kirsten’s debut Like Mandarin is released tomorrow, March 8th, she took five to give us an inside look at the life of a debut author.
Adrienne: Your agent called you, offered you representation, you screamed, cried, danced around and hugged everyone including the mail man. What is life like after the dust settles on your new agented life?
Kirsten: Everything’s all about revisions! Getting that first revisions letter is totally intimidating, especially if you have a very editorial agent, like mine. But it prepares you for even scarier letters from your editor down the line. There’s also this whole getting to know each other stage: figuring out how casual you can be with one another, how much you can joke, each other’s communications and revisions styles, etc. Early on, I didn’t know how my agent would react when I disagreed with some of her revisions suggestions – I was so nervous! But she was great about emphasizing they really were suggestions, and in every case, we figured out great solutions we agreed upon.
Adrienne: Your agent calls you again...this time that editor you’ve both had your eye on is excited to take on your new book. I’m assuming there’s a repeat of the above emotions, and spontaneous hugging. Does your life start to get harder as you venture towards publication, with all the demands on your time?
Kirsten: It wasn’t so hard, at first. When Like Mandarin sold, it could have been a fall 2010 debut, or a spring 2011 debut, and my publisher ultimately decided upon spring. So throughout the whole process, I had a lot of extra time for revisions and copyedits and so forth. Toward the end, when Like Mandarin stuff started overlapping with revisions on my second contracted book, Wanderlove, while I was also rough drafting my third – then I felt busy. But none of it even holds a candle to how busy I’ve been in the weeks before release.
Adrienne: In the months and weeks leading up to publication what is a typical day like?
Kirsten: Packed from morning to evening with a thousand nagging feelings. There’s just a lot of outstanding stuff. I always have this sense people are waiting on me – bloggers waiting for interviews, guest posts I’ve promised, friends I need to call back, writer pals I need to email. And then there’s launch party planning, and coordinating a bunch of people coming to town, and visiting libraries, and mailing promotional material… the to-do list never gets any shorter. I’m totally not complaining – I love this part! And I know the explosive feeling will taper off after release. But I just have to hope people are understanding when it takes me a few days to get back to them :)
Adrienne: The road to publication is a life long dream for 95% of writers. Any words of wisdom for those who are glaring at the blank screen, those who have a first draft written and are wondering what kind of garbage this is, and those who are suffering the rejections, yet still checking their inbox every six seconds?
Kirsten: For the first: if it’s truly a blank screen, make a list of random things that interest you. Like child beauty pageants. The badlands. Intense female friendships. Small towns. Jackalopes. Some of them should unexpectedly coalesce into an inspiring idea! (The above became Like Mandarin.) You can still do this if you’re partway into a book, or even revising – figure out something that interests you, a subplot, a setting, a character quirk, and work it in there. Fascinate yourself.
For the second: oh my goodness, beta readers! Not optional. Join the forums at Absolute Write and Verla Kay – there are always aspiring writers looking to swap manuscripts. Get at least three. Preferably five. Make sure, above all else, to leave your ego at the door. Critique at this early stage is nothing compared to agent letters, and editor letters, and public reviews.
For the third: write that next book. It’s the best advice I was ever given. Nothing cures rejection blues more than a new project you’re excited about. Promise.
Thank you so much Kirsten for joining us at Paper Hangover, wishing you best of luck tomorrow and in the future.
Like Mandarin - It's hard finding beauty in the badlands of Washokey, Wyoming, but 14-year-old Grace Carpenter knows it's not her mother's pageant obsessions, or the cowboy dances adored by her small-town classmates. True beauty is wild-girl Mandarin Ramey: 17, shameless and utterly carefree. Grace would give anything to be like Mandarin.
When they're united for a project, they form an unlikely, explosive friendship, packed with nights spent skinny-dipping in the canal, liberating the town's animal-head trophies, and searching for someplace magic. Grace plays along when Mandarin suggests they run away together. Blame it on the crazy-making wildwinds plaguing their badlands town.
Because all too soon, Grace discovers Mandarin's unique beauty hides a girl who's troubled, broken, and even dangerous. And no matter how hard Grace fights to keep the magic, no friendship can withstand betrayal.
"A beautifully crafted, bittersweet story about an unlikely friendship that sets two very different people free."
--Melina Marchetta, author of the 2009 Printz Award winner JELLICOE ROAD
Don't go away, we missed an introduction last week! Fridays will mark our 'Flash Fiction Friday.' Each Monday, one of our team will give you a writing prompt, post your entry on your blog on Fridays, link up in the comments section (here on Paper Hangover) and we can all come visit! It's a great way to work on your creativity and meet new bloggers in the process. It doesn't have to be a novel, just 300 or so words, but who knows it may turn into a work-in-progress for you....