Today’s newest member is a debut YA author…
Erin has spent most of her life telling stories. It is rumored that her first words were not “Mama” or “Dada,” but “Once upon a time.” In middle school, when kids were going off to sleep-away camp for the summer, Erin was attending writing camp and penning short stories. When not writing, Erin can often be found far away from the computer (hiking or camping), or geeking out over letterpressed stationery, good typography, and everything Harry Potter. She drinks a lot of coffee, buys far too many books, and is not terribly skilled at writing about herself in the third person.
Erin lives in New Hampshire with her husband, better known as The Engineer. You can stalk her online via twitter and her blog, and her debut YA novel, Taken, will be published by HarperTeen (Winter 2013).
Gray Weathersby has spent the last seventeen years fearing his eighteenth birthday. In his isolated hometown, where dust outnumbers grass and crows rival clouds, all eighteen-year-old boys are lost to a phenomenon the villagers have come to call the Heist. After his older brother, Blaine, meets this mysterious fate, Gray’s fascination with the Heist becomes an obsession. He craves answers. About the Wall that surrounds his town, a towering structure that no one can cross without dying. About the Council leaders and their obvious secrets. About the nature of the Heist itself.
During his search for answers, Gray enlists the help of Emma, a healer’s daughter and a girl he has admired since the day he first stole a wooden toy from her hands as a child. What they find leaves Gray with ideas. Dangerous ideas. Maybe Blaine hasn’t been lost forever. Maybe Gray can find him. Maybe it’s as simple as climbing the Wall and maybe, just maybe, Gray’s fate won’t be the same as everyone that has climbed before him.
1. So we all want to know: when you started writing Taken, which came first for you–the characters or the plot?
It was definitely the characters. Well, at least the main character. Gray came to me nearly fully-formed. I could see him before I wrote him, hear his voice before I transcribed even a snippet of dialog. I knew how instinctive he was, and how he valued his brother far more than himself because his brother could reflect on things before reacting. I also knew that Gray had a streak of curiosity in him, and while he wouldn’t even know it himself at the beginning of the story, that curiosity was a dangerous trait that when fed, would cause him to hunt down answers and truths no matter the cost.
It was a blessing really, knowing all these big picture things before I started writing. With his personality so clear in my head, everything else fell into place as I wrote. I absolutely had ideas of where the plot would go, and how Gray would fit into them. But I kept those ideas loosely outlined and when the situation arose on the page, I let Gray tell me if my initial thoughts were correct.
2. Wow, Gray sounds kinda amazing. And how cool that you just “knew” him! So taking a step back, what was your journey to publication like?
I’ve been writing stories since I could scribble with a crayon, but after college, my writing sort of slowed down. I think it had to do with moving to a new city, and working my first “career” job, and getting engaged, and all sorts of wonderful life milestones. I was super busy, and the only writing I seemed to find the time for was short stories. Then, I got laid off a job…a month before my wedding.
I was really devastated and chose to spend that month just prepping for the wedding, spending time with family, and not job-searching. But something amazing happened in the quiet moments when everyone was at work: I started writing again. And not just tiny bursts of prose. I had ideas. Big ideas. I started writing a novel, got married, and when I came back from our honeymoon, I kept writing. I didn’t let up even when I got a new job. I carved out the time, and soon I had a novel. I revised it, and in the middle of revising, this massive idea fell into my lap. That idea was Taken. I wrote, and revised, and revised some more, and after reading everything I could find online about queries and agents and publication, my CP convinced me it was time to send the MS out.
I began querying at the start of 2011. I signed with my agent at the end of January. Taken was bought by HarperTeen in April. It’s been incredibly surreal. But the entire process always amazes me because I honestly don’t think I’d have a book deal, or even written this book to begin with, had I not lost that job before my wedding. Everything happens for a reason. Some doors close so new ones can open. I truly believe that.
3. We’re firm believers of the “Everything happens for a reason too”–all of us have followed journeys that are exactly what they needed to be. 🙂 What’s your next writing project?
I’ll be starting on the sequel to Taken very soon, and I am so excited to dive back into Gray’s world. Oh, how I’ve missed him!
I also have two WIPs that I play with during downtime. One is fully drafted and in need of a revision, but I’m really excited about where it could go. The other is just five rough chapters at the moment, but it is so new and shiny that I smile every time I work on it. (You know how it’s always hugs and sunshine at the beginning.)
4. Oh, we know, we know. Darn story-lust. 😉 When you’re working, what’s a typical writing day look like for you?
I work a day job three days a week. The other four days go something like this:
7 — Wake up and read in bed
7:30 — Debate if taking a shower is necessary. (Showering is terribly inconvenient.) Grumble. Take shower, get dressed, wander downstairs.
8:00 — Breakfast. Coffee. Words with Friends.
8:30 — Emails. Read blogs. Check Twitter. Email some more. Tweet some more.
11:00 — Write!! (drafting, revising, etc. It can really be anything depending on what stage I’m at in a given MS)
2:00 — Realize I haven’t eaten. Decide eating is nearly as inconvenient as showering. Prepare whatever is easiest and quickest.
2:15 — Write some more while shoveling down food.
5:30 — The Engineer gets home! (((hugs)))
6:00 — Make and eat dinner. (How inconvenient!)
7:30 until bed — Return to writing or draft a blog post or read a book (or ms for CP) or watch TV/movies. It really just comes down to what I feel like at this point.
Some days I have to run errands and those always through my schedule off. I am one of those writers that does best when she locks herself in a room and types for hours on end without distraction. People that can churn out successful drafts over 1hr increments amaze me.
5. It looks like it all boils down to the self-motivation, huh? Go you. And do you have any final words of advice or inspiration?
There are a million and a half different ways to write. None of them are wrong. Be inspired by everything you read online, but don’t feel like you have to follow every piece of advice. And always take time to recharge your creative batteries. Sometimes the words are a challenge because the well has run dry. Go do something else: read, run, hike, travel, laugh with friends, eat new foods, stare at the stars. The words will come eventually.
6. Too true. Recharging is critical. Now, mix us a literary cocktail! What elements would you include in your ideal book?
I’ll take a Read-Through-The-Nightini please:
garnished with plot twists
7. Oooh, a round of Nightinis for the whole pub, please! Final question: got any good literary pick up lines?
Pretty much anything from “Ryan Gosling Reads Young Adult” is gold. But I think this one is especially effective:
Oh dear, Erin, hotcha, hotcha, HOTCHA…Anything with Ryan Gosling is okay by us. 😉
That’s right–Erin has an advanced copy of this dystopian YA, and she’s gonna pass it along to one of YOU. All you have to do is fill out the little raffle form below, and we’ll announce the winner NEXT WEEK (on Tuesday)!
And, be sure to tune in tomorrow, when we introduce our next new member (and offer more fun swag!).