author of The Strange and Deadly Portraits of Bryony Gray
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 broken.
Question the first: E, when did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
It’s always hard to answer this question because I don’t really remember. When I ask my mother it sounds like I never had any doubt. As soon as I realized people wrote books and that was their job, I knew that was what I wanted to do.
Question the second: What has been your proudest or most exciting moment as an author so far?
I have two: one was the week after I got an offer from my agent, and then another offer, and another. I ended up with four, and I thought THAT was the most excited I would ever feel. And then months later, my agent emailed me to say we’d had an offer from PRH and that has to be the new, most exciting moment. The great thing about publishing is that we do get new “most exciting” moments every so often.
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 think it will feel incredible when I can finally stand in the bookstore in the “L” section and see my book on the shelf. But I’m not sure there’s ever a point when I’ll say to myself, “This is it. I’ve officially made it”. Just like there’s always a new “most exciting” moment, there’s also always the next goal to strive for. You think getting a contract is the ultimate goal, but then you realize that you actually have to make your advance back, hope the book sells on the shelf, hope your next book sells, hope you can make enough money to quit your day job. And meanwhile you’re watching your author friends get book tours or awards and you think “THAT is when you’ve made it”. I’m not sure that ever ends.
Question the fourth: Did any experienced authors or industry people mentor or give you helpful guidance on your journey to publication?
Yes! The contest, Pitch Wars, helped me immensely. I didn’t get an agent from it, but I got a fantastic mentor who taught me a lot. It also resulted in literary agents later recognizing my name, and one of them took the time out to write me a massive edit letter when I sent her my manuscript a few months later. That really took my book to the next level.
Question the fifth: Have you ever had a time when you've felt like giving up?
Yes. I had a moment of utter despair. I had just been fired from my day job, and was being bombarded with constant rejections no matter what I did, it seemed. At one point my husband asked if maybe I should just give up the dream and let writing be a hobby, get an actual career. All of that at once crushed me, and I entered a kind of horrible depression where I kept finding myself wondering what was the point of anything, which is a bit scary when I think back on it. A week later I got the first agent offer, then the others came in. A month after that my book sold.
Question the sixth: What was the most inconvenient time or place you were struck by inspiration?
Without a doubt, in the middle of the night is the most inconvenient time. Usually as I’m falling asleep. I have to scramble to find a pen, or blind myself with my iphone light if I want to take a note on that instead. And many times the notes I read in the morning make VERY little sense.
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?
Yes! I love this question! The Strange and Deadly Portraits of Bryony Gray is an LGBT retelling of The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde. There’s one line in particular referring to/hinting at one of his other works. I’m excited for the first person to find it, I hope they tell me when they do.
I can't wait to hunt for it! Okay, here comes 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.
Haha, not yet. But now I have a new goal.
I never had an amazing idea right before bed, and decided sleep was more important.
Sleep is for the dead.
I never started a story with a character waking up, looking in the mirror, or in a bathtub.
Um, guilty. Ashamed to say my first manuscript had a mirror scene.
I never worked on two manuscripts at once.
I never went several days or even weeks without writing.
Usually no. Sometimes if I’m on vacation or something.
I never wrote "for a long moment."
Is this a cliché? Oh my god, I’m so guilty of this.
I never cheated during NaNoWriMo.
No cheating, just a lot of giving up halfway through. Haha.
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?
Thanks for having me! This was fun! Folks can pre-order The Strange and Deadly Portraits of Bryony Gray now, pre-order links are here.
Bonus question! If The Strange and Deadly Portraits of Bryony Gray had a theme song, what would it be?
Hmmm. I listened to the Amelie soundtrack a lot while i was writing it. If that counts
DJ Spotify, does it count?