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Before you were published, what were you doing to scratch the writing itch?
I think I’ve always been writing! Since the third grade. It is excellent fun to invent the people that I’d like to meet.
How did you end up getting your first book published?
My experience has been that publication can only happen at the moment when you accept that it won’t change your life. You have to get over yourself a little bit as a writer before you’re able to write publishable work. I’ve been published now in a few different genres, and each time that process of letting go of my ego has been essential.
Was the process anything like you imagined? What fit the dream? What was different/surprised you?
It’s always scary to release a book into the wild. Fan mail is the thing that fit the dream. After writingUnderstatement of the Year I began to get fan mail from men, too, which was a really new experience for me. Someone wrote: “I’m a gay athlete, and everything you wrote in this book is something I’ve thought or experienced.” He said he had to put the book aside a couple of times, because he didn’t want to cry on his crowded flight. That? That’s all I ever wanted from the experience of being published.
How long did it take you to write your first published book?
Ten years? Ten months? It depends how you count! Wanting to write the book and actually writing it are not the same thing, and newbies get that confused, sometimes. The shortest time I’ve ever taken to write a draft is three weeks. But I’m not sure if I can hit that pace again. It was a little bit magical.
What’s your advice to unpublished authors trying to get their work read?
Read your work out loud to yourself. Seriously. That’s one of the best tricks for stepping outside of your own head and hearing what you’ve got down on the page. I especially need this trick if I’ve already read that first chapter 100 times. (And I do, you know. I read my own book over and over again before I’m satisfied.) When you read aloud, you’re forced to confront your work in a louder, more literal way than when you skim. Try it!
Is writing not as fun/as fun/more fun once you have your first book published?
It really depends on the day of the week. Sometimes it feels like a job, now. But it is my job. So I suppose that’s only fair.
What’s next up for you?
The Ivy Years series will have 1-2 more books. (I get that question a lot!) I’m also working on a Young Adult novel for 2016.
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