Didn’t make it to the Austin leg of the Breathless Reads Tour? No worries, because BookPeople’s Teen Press Corps’ very own Shelby was on it like white on rice.
Moderator: What inspired your particular premise?
Marie Lu: I wanted to put dystopian elements into the real world.
Andrea Cremer: I was inspired by the 17th century magic, sorcery, and the break between reality and fantasy.
Jessica Khoury: I got into the world building of the Amazon and research. I mixed fantasy and science and reality.
Brenna Yovanoff: The Paper Valentine setting was influenced by my own town. It was very community-based, but I wanted to capture the underlying darkness of life.
Moderator: Talk about crafting the romance of your story.
BY: I looked at how well one character could push another to do things outside their comfort zone in Paper Valentine.
JK: Eio challenges Pia in Origin and her very utilitarian view of the world. He shows her the beauty and intricacies of life. Eio represents the wildness of the jungle while Pia is the conservative, rational immortal.
AC: I don’t really like the submission of love that’s so prevalent in today’s YA novels. I wanted to focus on the adventurous side of it.
ML: I wanted to create a power couple, two people who were opposites, but the most famous of their worlds. I wanted to clash the wealthy rich girl with the poor boy. I wanted Day to wear his heart on his sleeve, while June was the intelligent one.
Moderator: How did your characters propel the story?
ML: My characters literally did their own thing. I really try to create outlines, but it NEVER works out because I feel like it’s a whole process of discovery for the story and from that, I’m able to write awesome new twists I wouldn’t have been able to come up with in doing the outline.
AC: I think of myself as a jigsaw writer, randomly writing certain scenes that inspire me through the characters.
JK: I like to plan it out and usually figure out the ending so I can figure out how I get to that point.
BY: I don’t write in order, like Andrea, only more. My first draft is a big mess! It usually looks like a really long game of mad libs. It’s pure chaos, the first draft. It’s a lot about discovery at that point.
Audience: What’s the thing that made you say, “I wanna write a book.” ?
AC: I never gave myself permission that I would write to be published. Originally my plan was to spend a summer horseback riding in Minnesota, on the first day out I broke my foot. I instead spent that summer writing. I’m a very stubborn person and very tenacious and I knew those were great characteristics to have. I decided from then on that I would do something with myself. I knew at that point that my life was going to change forever. It all just magically and wonderfully fell into place.
ML: I’ve always loved writing. I moved to the States when I was five, and I gradually learned English. I began writing fiction of the Red Wall Series. So when I realized that actual people wrote books, from then on I was like, “I want to be a writer!”
AC: I wanna see those!
ML: Oh, no you don’t!…. I got rejected over 100 times because of my horrible sample manuscripts, but I finally got what I was hoping for with Penguin.
JK: I wrote a fanfic about Danny the Dinosaur when I was four. It has always been my dream. I wrote my 1st novel when I was thirteen and it was over 300 pages long. That was my starting point. I’d been rejected for a book I’d spent four years writing. Suddenly, I threw a pity party for myself. But spontaneously, I began imagining the premise of Origin, the immortal girl in the rainforest surrounded by glass walls. I could see her. I then began to ask myself why is she here, where is she? What is she being protected from? I finished the 1st draft in 30 days.
BY: I started writing young, but I couldn’t spell and had terrible penmanship. I began typing other people’s work on my mother’s typewriter. So that was straight plagiarism! But I wrote my 1st book at 23, and I’ve been writing pretty much every day since age 13. I got rejected from everyone. When I got a literary agent, I had a very hard time revising. But it ended up being very good for me and an amazing experience.
Moderator: How do you grapple with those moments of self-doubt?
BY: I go to the calming manatee website!
JK: I just go back to the beginning, questioning the reason I actually decided to write that story. I look at other authors, read their books, and I become re-inspired again and realize every author goes through this!
AC: I have a cycle of having a high point and having a depressed, negative point, but I trudge along and I get to 20,000 words, believing the story sucks. Once I get to 50,000 words, I’m happy and excited again!
ML: I also go through this roller coaster cycle, like Andrea. After Legend came out, I had expectations and a deadline with Prodigy. Everyone was watching, this was it, and I couldn’t do it. Book 2 was extremely scary, but now I’ve recognized that pattern and and how to push through it. Now in Book 3, I don’t feel that cycle as much because I know I can get through it.
Audience: How did you come to write young adult?
ML: I’ve been writing since I was a kid and didn’t realize what I was writing was YA until my agent told me. Legend was my 1st sci-fi book. Now that I’m aware of what YA is, I absolutely love it!
AC: I knew I was writing YA because I loved epic, grand fantasy stories.
JK: YA existed long before it had a label. The more I learned about it, the more I loved it! It’s the genre that’s the most relatable and able to reach any generation, transcending age.
BY: I’ve been writing teenage characters since forever, unaware until I was in college and took a class called Adolescent Literature!
Audience: What’s next?
AC: The 4th book in the Nightshade series called Snakeroot will be coming out next December and the cover was just revealed!
ML: My next series will be high fantasy, with some underlying politics, Italian Renaissance, romance, secret society stuff!
Teen Press Corps Member: Any Quick Tips for Aspiring Authors?
ML: Don’t be afraid to write something bad.
AC: Focus more on the craft of writing and less doing it to JUST get published.
JK: Get away and push yourself for inspiration, don’t always resort to reading a book for that. Go on an adventure, experience something to bring back to your writing.
BY: Don’t shut yourself down once you’re discouraged about an idea. Keep writing and have fun! Enjoy every part of it!