I have been remiss in posting this interview. I meant to put it up when PARANORMALCY launched, but I was all sick and phlegmmy and that is all there is to say about that.
Meanwhile, stay tuned for Kiersten White's insight on:
- what to eat for breakfast if you want to write a rockin' debut;
- the importance of writing a manuscript that suits your talents; and
- the truth about the hard work of readying a manuscript for an editor
I interviewed Kiersten in Los Angeles over breakfast. I am probably making this up, but I believe she had waffles. WAFFLES. So now we know the breakfast of champion debut authors. Make a note of it.
Kiersten has been writing seriously since the birth of her daughter, who's six years old. She wrote an allegedly boring middle grade novel with time travel. It took two years, and she went it alone--without the SCBWI, without critique partners, and probably even without waffles. She sent out a query a month without luck.
In 2008, she had another baby and started working on a YA novel.
She sent out 45 query letters and almost died--not from the letters, which would have been understandable, but from an ectopic pregnancy. Yikes!
When she got home from the hospital, she knew she'd get an agent "because the universe works that way." She got one in November and was so excited, she wrote a companion novel to the book in two weeks. TWO. Then, in January, the inspiration for PARANORMALCY struck.
Hold onto your hairpieces: Kiersten wrote PARANORMALCY in three weeks. Zoinks! The draft was 82,000 words. That's nearly 4,000 words a day, for those of you who enjoy math, or more accurately, those of you who enjoy math that other people have done for you.
Meanwhile, her first novel didn't sell. If it's not just an oatmeal flashback talking, it was because she had an 18-year-old protagonist. As she put it, "Vampires can be 100, but put in an 18-year-old girl and you're pretty much toast." (As opposed to a waffle.)
PARANORMALCY is a YA novel that skirts paranormal and urban fantasy (with a zesty dash of comedy and romance thrown in). About a girl named Evie who may or may not be human, and whose affections are divided between a shapeshifter and her faerie ex-boyfriend. People are nuts about the story, and it might even be made into a movie.
One big thing she did differently that helped her succeed this time around: She read her revised draft out loud before submitting.
"It really does make a difference," she says. "I know the next person is going to read this is an editor. I wanted to get it as polished as you could get it. Nothing else will make an awkward sentence stick out like reading it out loud."
As she read, she marked awkward passages, then went through and changed everything that needed tweaking.
Another tip: As one of her final edits, she reads through a hard copy. "You don’t read as closely as when you read on a screen," she says.
Then, she wrote her own cover letter on behalf of her agent. That very letter became the source of the flap copy.
Since selling her debut, the fingers-on-fire pace of writing has slowed down a bit. The sequel took her several months, because life after a big book deal has become a bit more complicated, and the pressure is greater. But her sequel is done, and a third is on the way--which means fun and excitement for Kiersten and her many fans.
Learn more about the talented and wonderful Kiersten here: