author of The Hotel Between Here, There, & Everywhere
Author, I Never is a new segment in which I interview fellow authors about the writing process, breaking into the industry, and breaking rules. I try to mix it up a little and ask some hopefully novel questions along with some of the old standards, and finish it up with a round of I Never (kid friendly version) to find out what cardinal writing rules we've all broken.
Question the first: Sean, when did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
Great question! My first inkling came when I was in third grade. I was an obnoxious, super-ADHD kid who would always finish his work before the rest of the class and spend all his free time falling out of his chair for attention. My third grade teacher realized that as long as I had something to occupy my mind, I’d stop being such a distraction to everyone else, so she taped a list of projects to my desk—tasks for me to work on when I finished my other work. The list included things like “write a book of poetry about Thanksgiving,” and “write a story about a mean turtle.” Pretty soon I became more focused on those projects than anything else in class, and a writer was born.
Question the second: What has been your proudest or most exciting moment as an author so far?
Most exciting? When I got the call from my agent telling me The Hotel Between Here, There, & Everywhere was going to be published by Simon & Schuster. I’m still living in a dream world ever since then. Wait… it was real…
Question the third: At what point did you think to yourself "I've made it" or at what point do you think you'll feel that way?
I don’t know about that feeling. My wife tells me I should just enjoy this, but I still don’t feel like I deserve it, and doubt I’ll ever feel like “I’ve made it.” I think that’s the curse of being a writer—we’re always waiting for someone to come along and say, “Hey, you’re not supposed to be here! How’d you sneak past the bouncer?”
Question the fourth: Did any experienced authors or industry people mentor or give you helpful guidance on your journey to publication?
YES!! Two people in particular. Jessica Souders (she writes as J.A. Souders at http://jasouders.com) mentored a previous book through the Pitch Wars competition. And my friend Lindsay Cummings (who’s AMAZING, and who you should definitely check out at http://lindsaycummingsbooks.com) has been unbelievably encouraging along the way.
Question the fifth: Have you ever had a time when you've felt like giving up?
Giving up? I don’t think so. When I decide I’m going to do something, I can be a little like a dog with a bone… I’m not letting go, no matter how many times I get knocked down. Though I have been knocked down. The Hotel Between Here, There, & Everywhere is probably my seventh manuscript (though some of those others I never finished). I figure each failure is a lesson learned, and as long as I could see progress and growth in my writing, I should keep going.
Question the sixth: What was the most inconvenient time or place you were struck by inspiration?
In the middle of a movie. It stinks to have to get up and sneak into the stairwell to write stuff down on your phone.
Question the seventh: Can you give us a hint to help us find an "easter egg" or hidden item to look for in one of your books? Maybe an obscure clue if there's a mystery thread, or a reference you threw in to a favorite book or song?
Sure! There’s a pretty gigantic Joan of Arc reference in Hotel Between that only people who know her story will figure out. And that’s a big clue into the future of the series, too.
Exciting! Okay. On to the...
I Never Round
The basic rules of I Never, the kid friendly version- I state a generally established writing rule (or at least a norm). If you've broken that rule, state your guilt for the record.
I never made up a word in my manuscript, and stood by it during copyediting.
I haven’t done that exactly, but there is one word I had to defend in a previous book I published with a small press. The word was “tump.” Down here in Texas, you hear tump a lot, but it’s not a word you often see anywhere else. It means to turn something over and dump it out completely: “He tumped over the wastebasket, and trash went everywhere.” My editor on that project was convinced I shouldn’t keep it, but my characters were Texan… they had to use it.
I never had an amazing idea right before bed, and decided sleep was more important.
I never started a story with a character waking up, looking in the mirror, or in a bathtub.
Guilty, but I did it with a twist, and it ended up being the start of my sci-fi I wrote for that small press under a pseudonym. One of the two main characters “comes back” from a period of mass global amnesia to realize he’s in the middle of kidnapping someone. He spends the first page trying to figure out where he is, and why he’s got a bloody knife in his hand. (NOTE: this is absolutely not the kind of book that Hotel Between is going to be. My middle grade work is more full of wonder than danger.)
I never worked on two manuscripts at once.
BAHAHAHAHA! Oh, wait, you’re serious…
I’ve always got multiple projects in process. Remember that whole “falling out of my chair” thing from earlier? Yeah… If I’m not working on multiple things, I’m probably getting myself in trouble.
I never went several days or even weeks without writing.
I went for several (maybe 7, I think) years without writing at one point. When I was pursuing my Masters degree and working with students, I simply didn’t have time, so I let the writing sit. I eventually came back with renewed passion, and the rest is history.
I never wrote "for a long moment."
Not sure about this one, so I’ll claim it. If I have, I didn’t realize it. Is this a thing?
Well, Stephen King tweeted this and I've seen it retweeted ad nauseam for months now. I thought about it for a long moment and decided to include it as a sort of "common law" writing rule.
I never cheated during NaNoWriMo.
Alas, I’ve never really done an official NaNoWriMo. I thought about it this past month, but my editing schedule prevented me from starting when everyone else did. Though I typically write my first drafts in the same amount of time!
Thank you so much for appearing in Author, I Never! When and where can we look for, preorder, or buy your next or most recent book, and where can we follow you on social media?
Absolutely! It was such a pleasure!
I’d love anyone who’s interested to add The Hotel Between Here, There, & Everywhere to their Goodreads TBR pile: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34871978-the-hotel-between-here-there-and-everywhere
Or they can visit my website at http://seaneasley.com, where they can sign up for the mailing list, too.
Thanks for this awesome interview! I love the I Never section!
Thank you, Sean! But before you go, one bonus question. Does The Hotel Between Here, There, & Everywhere have a theme song?
Short answer: Yes. Home, by Phillip Phillips. Long answer: Yes! I keep imagining if the song Home by Phillip Phillips was remade, but in musical styles from cultures all over the world. Like... cutting from the normal music of Phillip Phillips to a Scandinavian band, and maybe a mariachi, get a didgeridoo in there, and when the Ah-ah-ahs come in, have a tribe in New Guinea, and a group of soccer players in the Congo, and so on. I just think it would be so, so cool.
DJ Spotify can you manage that?