author of The Soul Keepers, out August 28, 2018
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 ask some hopefully novel questions along with some of the old standards, and finish it up with a round of I Never to find out what cardinal writing rules we've broken.
Question the first: Devon, when did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
So, I have a very vivid memory of being in the second grade, sitting on the floor in my school’s library, reading a Magic Tree House book, and all of a sudden thinking, This would be the coolest job ever, to write stories like this one. And I never looked back.
Question the second: What has been your proudest or most exciting moment as an author so far?
Hands down the most exciting moment has been getting the phone call from my editor and the director of the imprint offering me the publishing contract. Runner-up for the most exciting moment was getting to visit my publisher’s office, where I met my editor in person and everybody else there, including the incomparable Jean Feiwel (!!!).
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?
Well, there’s definitely an “I’ve made it” kind of feeling when you’re first offered that book deal, but I’m not sure that any of it will really feel real until I have a physical copy of my book in my hands. After that there’ll be a lot of blubbering.
Question the fourth: Did any experienced authors or industry people mentor or give you helpful guidance on your journey to publication?
Not personally. I was always very reserved about my writing, and I struggled to finish things because I was pretty lacking in confidence for a long time. As a result, I never had a chance to join any writing groups or anything like that. I took a pretty nontraditional route to publication, by submitting my manuscript to Swoon Reads, a website that allows you to upload your own manuscript as well as read, rate, and comment on other writer’s books, all YA. So, having the feedback that was provided there by other writers and readers was great. The Swoon Reads blog is also packed with a ton of posts from the SR editors and authors giving their take on writing and publishing. That was a great resource for me as well.
That's awesome! What a great resource. Question the fifth: Have you ever had a time when you've felt like giving up?
Definitely. Prior to finishing my book, I had been writing and submitting short stories to a few magazines. I got maybe one rejection and absolute radio silence from everybody else. I had gotten all or most of the way through a couple of other novels that I just didn’t feel great about. It wasn’t until The Soul Keepers (not to mention my wife’s constant encouragement) that I felt I had something worth trying to get published. I came dangerously close to giving up on my writing career, right before I wrote the book that landed me a book deal.
Question the sixth: What was the most inconvenient time or place you were struck by inspiration?
One of my favorite things to do is wash the dishes with some loud music on. It’s such a mindless task that I almost always find myself daydreaming…and coming up with really sweet ideas. On more than one occasion I’ve gone running out of the kitchen, hands dripping with soap and water, to find a pen so that I can write down an idea before I forget it.
Question the seventh: Can you give us 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?
I am a GIANT Stephen King fan. There’s at least one somewhat subtle reference to The Dark Tower series in my novel.
Fun! Okay. Get ready for 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 definitely have no shame in adding a “-y” to a word when I need it to be an adjective. Like “plastic-y” or “static-y.” We’ll see what happens when the copyeditor gets their hands on it!
I never had an amazing idea right before bed, and decided sleep was more important.
I actually do a lot of writing in bed, on my phone, usually just typing quick notes in before I conk out. I am, in fact, guilty of thinking that something was “too good” for me to forget what it was in the morning. *bows head in shame*
I never started a story with a character waking up, looking in the mirror, or in a bathtub.
Ha-ha, high-school Devon thought that there was no other way to start a story.
I never worked on two manuscripts at once.
I can honestly say that I’ve never done this. My brain can only manage one project at a time.
I never went several days or even weeks without writing.
I like V.E. Schwab’s mentality when it comes to this. Her theory is that we’re ALWAYS writing if we’re even thinking about a story or jotting down notes for a story. What we do when we sit down to type the words is really just transcribing. That philosophy makes me feel a lot better when I do go days or weeks without typing a single word.
I never wrote "for a long moment."
Unpopular opinion: I love “for a long moment.” I use it with absolute pride. I think it has less to do with a span of time and more to do with the weight of a moment, the way time stretches out when someone’s in the middle of a really emotional encounter. So, yeah, guilty but not sorry about it!
I love your take on it! I never cheated during NaNoWriMo.
The one time I really tried to stick to NaNoWriMo…I totally cheated.
It's so relieving to be able to admit it. Like stepping out of a stifling steam room of tiny, suffocating rule droplets.
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?
Thank YOU! These questions were crazy fun! The Soul Keepers will be available at all the major bookstores, like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, as well as directly on the Swoon Reads website (swoonreads.com) in August of 2018! I’m on Twitter (@devontwrites), Instagram (@taylor95_devonwrites), and my website is devontaylorauthor.wordpress.com.
Bonus question: If The Soul Keepers had a theme song, what would it be?
It would have to be a song called "Red Sky Warning" by the band Ice Nine Kills.
DJ Spotify, prepare.