This entry marks the 2nd installment of my Author Mondays, where I shall endeavor to post something author-esque each Monday. Whether it's an interview or a one-shot question, here is a chance for various authors to have their say.
On Friday, May 22nd, Veronica Goldbach and I shared some happy drinks and melded our high school history with our new friendship as author/librarian.
This is part two of our 30-minute interview. Check out part one here.
Et voila, part deux!
TBiblio: As for your new author life, at the recent party we had here, one of the attendees made it sound like everyone wanted to talk to you so you were holding court at this party—
VG: [*laughter*] Oh dear.
TBiblio: -- because there was so much to do. Do you feel like life has gotten glamorous now that you’re an author?
VG: Actually, it’s interesting that you mention the party, I just felt totally the opposite. I felt like I was being so anti-social in the corner and shy because I didn’t know any of these people. And it’s like, do I go up and say, “Hey, I wrote a book, you want to talk about it?” It was just… And so some really nice people came up to me but I felt kinda bad, like I wasn’t doing my part. But as for it being glamorous? No. It’s not what I would think. It’s a lot of work and it’s a lot of trying to just sell yourself and it feels so… wrong. “I wrote a book! You should buy it!” [*laughter*] The signings have been fun. A little bit of attention is nice, but it’s really just a lot of work. Even publicizing the book, it’s just finding people and emailing and emailing and trying to get… It’s not as glamorous as I thought. And it’s come so late. I mean, this book, I’ve been working on it for six years. The last rewrite was New Year’s Eve last year and then all of a sudden, all the hard work is way behind me and then “Oh!” A little bit of recognition comes.
TBiblio: Some people say that everybody has a good novel in them somewhere. They just don’t have the whereabouts, the capacity, or the discipline to bring it forth. What do you think is the magic key to getting your story out there or getting published?
VG: Well, getting your story… Discipline. Discipline, discipline, discipline. Just making yourself write it. I know lots of people—great ideas! Way better than any of my ideas. And they just don’t actually get the physical… Finish the novel and rewrite it and rewrite it. And getting your story out there? Just, sending out those query letters. Now they’re e-queries. It’s so weird. When I started out, it was actual query letters. Just a few years ago. And now, I was trying to get an agent for the next novel and it’s all e-queries now. You just gotta send them out, send them out, send them out. Discipline, discipline, discipline, discipline, discipline. Just don’t quit.
TBiblio: This might be a little bit of a strange question. I read this interview with Jessica Biel, the actress, and she was talking about how being beautiful is a problem and that she envies—
VG: Oh dear.
TBiblio: -- the careers of Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman. Are there any authors who—either, their careers, you envy them or that, if you were to meet them, you would just kind of go speechless? If you were just to meet these random authors?
VG: Meet random authors? Well, definitely, Stephenie Meyer. I mean, she’s like, oh my goodness! Twilight was her first novel, right? And it’s just this phenomenal hit. I would love to just meet her. I don’t think I’d ever be able to speak to her. I met Meg Cabot at a signing once, and of course, I didn’t say anything. And I wanted to say, “I read your blog all the time! You’re why I got published! All your good advice!” Blah blah blah. I didn’t say anything. [*laughter*] I was totally tongue-tied. So, yeah. Pretty much anybody, I think I’d be totally tongue-tied. Those are my dream meets, I guess.
TBiblio: About your dedication? [*laughter*] To your book? You dedicated it to your mom, which is really sweet, and you called her the Dream Crusher. [At your book signing] your brother called her the Crushinator. [*laughter*] This is supposed to be a compliment, right?
VG: Yeah. Okay, it’s a long story for this dedication. And now, thinking back, maybe I shouldn’t have done it ‘cause it’s really an inside thing and I’ve gotten so much flack about it. It made my mom cry, so that was good. Cry in the good way.
TBiBlio: Good, good.
VG: The Dream Crusher, there’s two sort of stories that go with it. The first thing is that, in my family, well, you do know a little bit about my family. We tease but we love. We have a sort of biting sense of humor. We are kinda mean to each other. My mom is very practical. This is the way she explains Dream Crusher. She wants to see the practicality in dreams. My brothers and my sister had these huge, you know, great dreams for their lives. Always growing up, my sister was going to be either this famous flamenco dancer or this famous director. Those were her big dreams, and my mom was always, “Okay, but you’ve got to get your degree. Get your degree in teaching.” My other brother, he’s an amazing guitar player, but he was going to be in a band and he was going to hit it big. And my other brother, he went between being a tennis star, a golf star—a golf pro, I guess. They all had these big dreams. And my dream? I didn’t have any dreams because I wasn’t really good at anything. I danced, I was in band. But I didn’t have these great aspirations like they did. So she was always encouraging me, but I just wanted to be a teacher. That was my plan. So one day, the last time we were all really together, I forget what the occasion was. We were going out to dinner and my sister was between moving places, and my brothers actually came out with us, and we were having this discussion. They told my mom that if she had a super power, it would be crushing dreams. And they started calling her the Dream Crusher. ‘Cause, you know, she was just saying, “Yes, yes, yes, it’s great you want to be a tennis player but you should go to college and get your degree in teaching.” And so the Dream Crusher kind of evokes that whole time, the last time we were all together, and just how she’s always supported me. She’s the person who told me to write a book. It’s just kind of weird, they call her the Dream Crusher. And yeah, she was the Dream Crusher for them, but for me she was the Dream Builder Upper.
TBiblio: Ah, that's good!
VG: It was just sort me being ironic with her. A lot of people think it’s an angry dedication. But I said it was all her idea, and it really was! She’s the one who told me, “You should write, you should write, you read so much, you should write.“ I didn’t take her seriously for a long, long time. It’s a complicated--.
TBiblio: It's a complicated... but it's a good... Yeah, I figured there was a beautiful story behind it. [*laughter*]
VG: It’s the last time we were together and it’s sort of my thing, you know. “You’re not really the Dream Crusher that everybody thinks you are.” Everyone thinks my mom is really this hard, practical, strict mom, ‘cause she comes off that way. But she’s not. She’s a softie. [*laughter*] She is.
TBiblio: Advice to any teens out there—or anybody, really—who wants to get their work out there? Besides discipline.
VG: Besides just writing, even when you don’t want to, because it’s not always fun? You just gotta do those query letters. What really helped me is I got The [Complete] Idiot’s Guide to Getting Published. I know it sounds lame, but they tell you how to write the query letter. And on Meg Cabot’s blog, she recommended the Jeff Herman’s Guide to [Book Publishers,] Editors and [Literary] Agents. And I got it, and you can just check it out from the library.
VG: And it has a list of agents and editors and what they’re looking for, so you don’t waste your time querying agents that are only doing adult romances if you’re doing YA or only doing Christian romances, you know. So it tells you who to send [query letters to], and what they’re looking for. Write a really good query letter. Really spend a lot of time on that. Because if you don’t, you won’t get your foot in the door. Write a really good query letter, send a bunch out, and be ready for those rejection letters. Don’t let them get you down.
The last third of this interview will be available the next Author Monday. (Click here for it!) If you want to check on my amazing transcribing job, or if you want to hear two girls giggling, feel free to listen to the actual audio file of the entire chat.
Happy June, everyone! And happy first day of the Teen Summer Program at the San Antonio Public Library!