It’s time for more in the Summer 2012 YA Debut Interview Series, featuring debut YA authors who’ve written books I am absolutely dying to read. I’ve chosen eleven (yes, 11 this time!) debuts to feature, and I hope by the end of this series you’ll be as excited about these books as I am.
Today’s Summer 2012 YA Debut is All These Lives by Sarah Wylie. Read on to see how this author answered the Q&A… And be sure to enter to win a signed ARC (advance reading copy) of All These Lives!
Nova Ren Suma: I’ll start with the dreaded question you may be hearing already from strangers on elevators, long-lost family members, and your doctor while you’re sitting on the examination table in the paper gown during your next checkup: “So what’s your book about?” (Feel free to use the jacket copy, or describe in your own words. Up to you.)
Sarah Wylie: My answer to this question inevitably ends up being a series of “ums” and “uhs” and “well, it’s about this girl…” so I’m going to cheat a little bit and use the blurb:
Sixteen-year-old Dani is convinced she has nine lives. As a child she twice walked away from situations where she should have died. But Dani’s twin, Jena, isn’t so lucky. She has cancer and might not even be able to keep her one life. Dani’s father is in denial. Her mother is trying to hold it together and prove everything’s normal. And Jena is wasting away. To cope, Dani sets out to rid herself of all her extra lives. Maybe they’ll be released into the universe and someone who wants to live more than she does will get one. Someone like Jena. But just when Dani finds herself at the breaking point, she’s faced with a startling realization. Maybe she doesn’t have nine lives after all. Maybe she really only ever had one.
In my experience, every book wants to be written differently—and each one behaves differently from the one before it. Some novels like it out of order, and some rigidly insist on being written from start to finish. Some novels come out fast; others are excruciatingly slow. Some novels torment you, and some sing you to sleep. What did your novel want? How did you appease it? Did it ever misbehave?
The first draft was like that brooding movie star that waltzes in demanding to be your fictional boyfriend…oh, wait. All These Lives did very much insist on being written and, in a lot of ways, came fully formed. The characters and plot knew who and what they wanted to be from the start, and subsequent drafts were about making them just that. Once I actually started writing, the first draft came out fast—in a few weeks. The rest of the journey was slower; it involved some unexpected turns, some tears and doubt, a little bit of hair pulling and, like all good things, plenty of sugar.
Tell us about the place—as in the physical location: a messy office, a comfy couch, a certain corner table at the café—where you spent most of your time writing this book. Now imagine the writing spot of your fantasies where you wish you’d been able to write this book… tell us all about it.
I did most of my writing in bed. Some days, if I was feeling really adventurous, I’d migrate to my desk beside the window.
This is where I wish I’d written this book:
Can you imagine? I’m huddled in a corner of a tiny Parisian café, typing feverishly on my laptop (or, you know, writing longhand since we’re being imaginative). A French waiter who looks a little like this brings me a tray of macarons and I’ve been there so long that the smell of fresh croissants has buried itself in my coat (a decidedly European trench that still screams eccentric writer).
A terrible cliché, but still The Dream.
Imagine you’re on the subway, or the bus, or sitting in a park somewhere minding your own business… and you look up and see the most perfect person you could picture devouring your book. This is your ideal reader. Set the scene and describe him or her (or them?) for us.
Hmm, I’m not sure there’s such a thing as an ideal reader. I think I’d just be freaking out about seeing my book in the wild! I’d be completely irrational about it, too. Like, wait, was that a massive eye roll or was he/she checking to make sure they hadn’t missed their stop?
Obviously, I’d have to take a picture. The challenge would be doing so without looking like a creep.
Honestly, it wouldn’t matter whether the reader was young or old, male or female, but I do think it would be extra special to see a teen reading it.
Publishing a novel is full of high points, low points, absolutely surreal points, and shocking points you never thought you’d see in your lifetime. Tell us a high point, a low point, a surreal point, and something shocking or at least somewhat surprising about your experience so far.
Getting ARCs was definitely both the high point and the most surreal point. Up until that point, your book is a manuscript, a bunch of words on a screen and sometimes on paper. The first time I saw All These Lives in book form was hands-down the most surreal, weirdest, happiest, scariest point of this journey so far.
The low point…that moment where you’re knee-deep in revisions, your book is in fragments, and it just doesn’t seem possible that any of these pieces will fit together to form what you’ve hoped and dreamed of.
Most surprising….maybe just how much things don’t change. I guess I figured once I was an “author,” the words would come more easily. The words would be better. I would feel like an author, and those nasty word-slayers (self-doubt and anxiety) would stay far away from this Author. In real life, the words don’t come easier, sometimes they are worse, and I still write in bed and dream of Parisian cafés. It isn’t a disappointment—not really. In some ways, it’s a relief. There are ways to improve, things to reach for and dream of, and secretly, I really enjoy fighting for those words. Just don’t remind me during revisions.🙂
Dream question: If you could go on book tour anywhere in the world, with any two authors (living or dead), and serve any item of food at your book signing… where would you go, who with, and what delicious treat would you serve your fans?
Ohhhh. As someone who suffers from Chronic Indecisiveness™, I had such a hard time with this question.
John Green is one of my very favorite authors and he seems so personable and intelligent and funny, so I have to pick him, right? For exactly the same reason, I’d also go with Sarah Dessen.
Although, if I did pick them, I fear I’d spend the entire tour being starstruck and totally inarticulate. So do I save face and pick two of my favorite authors from when I was younger (Enid Blyton and C.S. Lewis)?
Really, I’d be just as starstruck. But I figure I’d show them how to use Google or introduce them to an iPhone and they’d be completely impressed and everybody wins! Even if I never utter an intelligent sentence throughout the entire tour.
Food: Since we’re on the subject of Paris (and hopefully touring there!), we’ll have plenty of French pastries. Some of these:
If you had to pick one sentence, and one sentence only, to entice someone to read your book, what would it be? (I almost hate myself for asking you this question and making you choose! Almost.)
Why are favorite sentences always so spoilery?
I think this sentence sums up quite a bit about the book without giving away too much:
I have to be the girl with nine lives, because I did just drown, and now, I’m back.
All These Lives will be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) on June 5, 2012. Read on for a chance to win a signed ARC!
Sarah Wylie lives in Canada, where she has been writing for as long as she can remember. After some unfortunate forays into the world of headbanger poetry (this is a thing), emo songwriting, and terrible fanfiction, she finally discovered young-adult fiction. When she’s not writing, you might find her hurling textbooks across a room, reading, or watching bad reality TV.
Visit her at sarahwyliebooks.com to find out more!
Read her blog at sarahwithachance.blogspot.com.
Follow @sarah_why on Twitter.
The giveaway is now closed. Congrats to the winner!
What is the next Summer 2012 debut novel I’m looking forward to? Come back tomorrow to find out.