I am so excited. My post today is an author interview with YA author Natalie Whipple.
Natalie’s debut novel, TRANSPARENT, came out this May. I was lucky enough to read an ARC that Caryn Caldwell passed along to me.
What a delightful book! One of the things I loved most about it was the characters. They are nice, interesting people. Often with YA I feel like I’m reading so much angst that I don’t really want to spend time with the characters in the book.
When I finished Transparent, I was GIDDY to find out Natalie is releasing a sequel, BLINDSIDED, coming out in January, 2014. I really felt invested in the Natalie’s fascinating world, and I wanted to spend more time with these characters. I devoured the book in about a day on a camping trip, and I heartily recommend it to all of you!
Natalie’s third novel, HOUSE OF IVY AND SORROW, will be released on April 15th, 2014, and is available for pre-order on Amazon, now.
If you’re a fan of Natalie’s work, or if you’re about to become one, Natalie is doing a book signing at Orem Barnes and Noble with some other local authors on Saturday, September 14th, from six to nine PM. Come on over and meet her with me. I’m looking forward to meeting her in person. She has been so gracious about doing this interview today.
Also, check out Natalie’s blog. Her road to publication has been of the long and winding variety, and is inspiring to me, personally. If you want to read about someone who has followed her dreams in spite of all the obstacles, go read her posts. You won’t be sorry.
So, without further ado, let’s get on with the interview questions:
1. What books and / or authors are most inspiring to you as a writer?
Growing up I think the two biggest stories for me were the Narnia series by C.S. Lewis and The Giver by Lois Lowry. Those stories opened up my world and taught me more about thinking outside the box. Now, I’m inspired by a lot of contemporary writers, actually—Sarah Dessen, Stephanie Perkins, Gayle Forman, Julie Halpern, L.K. Madigan, etc. There’s something about contemporary that just gets me. I think it’s the deeper character studies.
2. We would love to know more about your road to publication.
Particularly, let us know one surprising thing, one disappointing thing, one thrilling thing.
One Surprising Thing: Just how LONG publishing takes. Everything takes forever. Like, if you’re an aspiring author, you should probably double or triple your assumed time. Publishing is that slow. It took me 2 years to get an agent (and 8 books), 2 years to SELL a book to publishers (that was book 10), and 2 years for that book to come out after it sold. And I’ve heard of longer stories than that.
One Disappointing Thing: Just one? Ha. Unfortunately publishing can sometimes feel like an endless reel of disappointing. But I think the most disappointing moment was when I realized my first novel on sub wasn’t going to sell. It had been out 15 months, and even after a detailed revision with an editor it didn’t sell to that house. It was very hard—and I admit to losing it after. I did have a mental breakdown due to publishing. That was my low point for sure.
One Thrilling Thing: Of course selling my first novel, TRANSPARENT, was pretty thrilling, especially after so long! But one thing I didn’t expect to happen was that TRANSPARENT went to auction in the UK. That was very fun to experience, since I only had one offer in the US. And it was totally stress free because I’d already sold. My UK publisher has been so wonderful to work with—the sequel to TRANSPARENT wouldn’t have existed if they didn’t ask me to write it!
3. Describe your writing process / writing schedule. I’m not sure I really have all that intricate a process. I mostly just sit down and write until I get to the end. Usually during naptime. I do as much as I can before I have to feed my family dinner, rinse and repeat the next day. I don’t snack while I write, but I have water on hand. I usually listen to music. As far as how I write—I’m mostly a discovery writer, figuring stuff out as I go. Then I revise my butt off.
4. In a recent interview on Literary Rambles, you mentioned that you do a lot of rewriting and revisions, and that your first drafts are far from perfect. This is comforting to someone like me. What advice do you have for aspiring authors about revising to make your book the best it can be?
I guess I’d advise aspiring writers to revise about 300% more than they think they need to. For a long time I didn’t change and rework my stories like I needed to, and that prevented me from finding success. Finding good criticism and following it is hard, but it’s worth it. I promise you won’t break your story—I have never once regretted a revision, even when I rewrote an entire novel from scratch (that was TRANSPARENT, which made me a published author).
5. If you had one tip to give to a writer just starting out, what would it be?
Get comfortable—if you’re pursuing publication it will likely take a long time. Then, don’t forget that you love writing. Writing and publishing are not the same thing, and the latter can make you dislike the former. Don’t forget that the writing always comes first, and the publishing—if we’re lucky—comes second.
6. The characters in TRANSPARENT were just fundamentally interesting, nice people. I was so excited when I found out there was going to be a sequel, because these are characters I’d definitely like to spend more time with. Which character from TRANSPARENT was your favorite to write, and why? Which character surprised you the most? Which character did you have the most difficulty with?
Ha, I had to laugh at you saying they were nice! So many of them aren’t to me, heh. I think my favorite to write was probably Seth, since writing arguments is always enjoyable. Love tension! I think the character that surprised me the most was Miles, who has his own goals that are pretty surprising when contrasted with his easy-going attitude. And as far as difficulty, I’d have to say my main character Fiona. It was a challenge to write an invisible character, let alone one that is permanently invisible AND the main pov. She was hard to pin down, which is probably why I had to rewrite the entire novel.
Music or silence while writing? Music
Do you act out your scenes for accuracy? Never have.
Favorite dessert? Cupcakes!
Drafting or revising? It’s close, but drafting by a hair.
Notebook or computer? Both
Word or Scrivener? Word.
Favorite genre you’d like to try?
I’ve tried most of them, honestly. But I’ve never attempted historical. Maybe someday?
Natalie, thanks so much for joining us today. I really appreciate the candor and good humor you bring to this process. I can definitely feel that you understand all of the highs and lows I’m going through. But above all, thank you for the reminder that it’s the writing that comes first. I needed that today. And I’ll probably need it again every few months for the rest of my life!