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On Being a Debut

I’ve been feeling nostalgic all week as these Fall 2012 debut author interviews have been going up… Being a debut author is such an exhilarating, beautiful, promising—and even terrifying—time. There is no way to foresee or calculate what will happen or how you’ll feel about being published and out in the world. And once the debut days are gone, you can’t go back. I hope this doesn’t sound like a downer—it’s simply about appreciating those moments and remembering.

Published authors who’ve passed the debut year, y’know what I mean, right?

What’s your most vivid (visceral?) memory of being a debut?

I remember, one lunch break, sitting in my office at my day job staring at the cover image my editor sent me, completely taken by the idea that MY NAME was going to be on a hardcover BOOK. It wasn’t the book I thought would be my debut. It wasn’t the time or the place I thought I’d be in. It didn’t look the way I thought it would look, or feel the way I thought it would feel. I didn’t have an agent and I felt kind of afloat in a bubble someone was about to pop with a pin. But no one reached out with the pin and popped me. Because it was happening. Oh wowohwow it was happening.

I remember this particular lunch break when I spent an hour with my office door closed, silent, staring at the cover on my screen, unable to eat a bite of food. Then quietly and without ceremony I opened my door and went back to work.

A friend in the art department—ironically I was working for a book publisher at this point, though my book was being published by another publisher entirely, and I didn’t tell many people at work that I was going to be published—saw me staring at my cover and kindly printed out a color copy on the laser printers in the design department. She insisted I tack it up on the wall, so I did, in a small hidden corner on my bulletin board where most people couldn’t see it.

It felt private and beautiful and all mine for weeks and weeks. Sometimes I’d turn in my chair and see it there—THE COVER OF MY BOOK—and gasp out loud in shock. I kept coming back to that feeling at every book event and public appearance that debut season, like… Really? This is really happening?

Reading these debut interviews brings me right back to those glorious, surreal moments.

So if you missed any of the debut interviews this week, be sure to check them out:


Jeanne Ryan and Nerve:

“All of those events were milestones, but the one that delivered the biggest electric jolt was seeing my cover for the first time. The image the designer created was both totally unexpected and totally perfect. I cried.”

Read my interview with Jeanne Ryan and enter to win a signed finished copy!


Gwenda Bond and Blackwood:

“I went to grad school, worked on other projects, but this one was always in the back of my head. Finally, a couple of years ago, I was ready to get back to it. Once I did, the answer I needed turned up almost immediately in my research material. I’d probably read the key piece before—John Dee’s involvement in planning the voyage—and it just hadn’t registered. It wasn’t the book’s time to be written yet.”

Read my interview with Gwenda Bond and enter to win a signed finished copy!


Sangu Mandanna and The Lost Girl:

“A box of finished copies arrived, and I took them out and stuck them on one of my bookshelves, and suddenly it hit me. They were real. And sitting on my shelf next to other real books. Until then, I was so busy working on the book, and thinking about other projects, that it never really hit me, properly hit me, that my book was going to be out there.”

Read my interview with Sangu Mandanna and enter to win a finished copy!


Emily Hainsworth and Through to You:

“This is when I geeked out and started running through the house screaming because I couldn’t find a knife to open the box, and then I couldn’t find my phone so I could tell EVERYONE about it. I was 24 weeks pregnant at the time and I felt a little guilty about subjecting the baby to all that commotion, but I like to think my daughter was there to celebrate the moment with me when no one else was.”

Read my interview with Emily Hainsworth and enter to win a signed ARC! 


Tiffany Schmidt and Send Me a Sign:

“This wasn’t the first novel I wrote—just the first one I didn’t give up on. It was the novel I used to figure out my writing process. Instead of following others’ rules: write in order, use an outline, don’t revise until you have a full draft—I made up my own. I never write in order (kissing scenes & dialogue first!), outlines make me gag, and I revise whenever I want.”

Read my interview with Tiffany Schmidt and enter to win a signed finished copy!


And come back on Monday for 5 more debut interviews and giveaways!

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One thought on “On Being a Debut

  1. The best debut memory? Having an old flame I hadn’t spoke to in years show up at my Edinburgh Book Fest panel and surprise me after reading about Drifting House in the FT!

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