CURRENT GIVEAWAY CONTESTS
Here are my current Giveaway Contests
THE PRINCESS AND THE PAGE through April 22nd
Natalie Lakosil Query Critique and THE STAR THIEF through April 22nd
Happy Easter Giveaway Hop through April 30th
Tracy Marchini Query Critique through April 29th
THE WINGSNATCHERS through May 4th
Upcoming Agent Spotlights and Query Critique Giveaways
Laura Spieller on 4/26/2017
Loren Oberweger on 5/10/2017
Alyssa Jennette on 5/24/2017
Bibi Lewis on 6/12/2017
Kelly Van Sant on 6/21/2017
NATALIE WHIPPLE INTERVIEW AND TRANSPARENT GIVEAWAY
I have a few winners to announce.
The winner of SHOW AND TELL IN A NUTSHELL or ADVERBS AND CLICHES IN A NUTSHELL is Kiera Paul!
The winner of RUMP: THE TRUE STORY OF RUMPELSTILTSKIN is Pepopsmama!
Congrats! E-mail me so I can have your books sent to you. You must e-mail me by the end of Wednesday or I'll have to pick another winner.
Today I’m excited to have Natalie Whipple here to share about her debut novel, TRANSPARENT, which releases tomorrow. I loved that this revolves around Fiona, who is invisible not only to others but to herself as well. And everyone else’s powers were unique too. Natalie’s created a fascinating futurist world and a fast paced plot with characters I really cared for. I’m sorry it’s not part of a series. (Hint hint, Natalie.)
Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:
Plenty of teenagers feel invisible. Fiona McClean actually is.
An invisible girl is a priceless weapon. Fiona’s own father has been forcing her to do his dirty work for years—everything from spying on people to stealing cars to breaking into bank vaults.
After sixteen years, Fiona’s had enough. She and her mother flee to a small town, and for the first time in her life, Fiona feels like a normal life is within reach. But Fiona’s father isn’t giving up that easily.
Of course, he should know better than anyone: never underestimate an invisible girl.
Hi Natalie. Thanks so much for joining us. And Happy Release Day!
1. Tell us about yourself and how you became a writer.
Well, I guess you could say I’m your average nerd. Grew up loving anime and video games and books. I pretty much have the same interests now, except I’ve added Korean drama, cooking, and gardening to the list.
I’m one of those boring writers who wanted to be an author since they were a kid. It was a dream for a long time, one I thought would be nice but I didn’t pursue seriously until I was about 21 or 22. When I graduated college with a little baby in arm, I decided I should at least try to write a whole book and try to publish said book. Ten books later, here I am finally!
2. I wish I’d been one of those kids who knew I wanted to write. How did you come up with Fiona’s power of invisibility, everyone else’s unique powers, and the drug radiasure?
I’ve always been interested in the Cold War era, and particularly in how if affected the way normal citizens lived their lives. I think it’s hard for us to picture now just how real the prospect of being bombed was for Americans back then, and how that fear seeped into the way people acted.
So I played the “What If” Game—what if there was a drug people could take to prevent radiation effects in the case of a nuclear attack? Well, I figured lots of people would take that drug without a second thought, but a drug like that would have been rushed in development and therefore not entirely safe. Mutations resulted.
Fiona’s invisibility stemmed from my own feeling of invisibility as a teen, combined with what I thought would be an interesting writing challenge in a main character. I wanted to build a “superpower” world in which the abilities had drawbacks and genuinely impacted people’s lives. I also wanted to create abilities that could be explained biologically, though of course they are exaggerated. That’s what I based everyone’s abilities on.
3. That’s so interesting how the idea for your story came from the Cold War. It makes sense with the radiation issues. I read that you did a fair amount of scientific research for this story. Tell us about it and any tips you have for the rest of us needing to research for our stories.
I did do more research than I expected to do on this project. In particular, I spent a lot of time reading and watching things about mutations and “superpowers.” Because even today there are people out there who you could say have special powers because of mutations—a great show to watch that documents some of these people is Stan Lee’s Superhumans. They actually have doctors study these people to figure out if their ability is legit and why it exists. It’s fascinating.
Along with that research, I learned a lot about genetics and epigenetics (or epigenomics), so that there
As far as tips on research, I say ask a librarian. Especially when it comes to medical research, not all of the most current information is in the text books yet (and you want to find the cutting edge stuff when writing sci-fi). My friend is a medical librarian, and she was incredibly helpful in finding more detailed information. I also love trying to find documentaries to watch, because I’m a really visual learner and absorb more that way.
4. I didn’t realize that people today have weird abilities. Interesting. And that’s a great tip to ask a librarian for help, especially if you need to do scientific research.
I really liked your characters. Fiona as an invisible girl who still cares what she looks like in her own way, her new friends Bea, Brady, and Seth, and her brother Miles are all characters who are memorable and who I couldn’t help becoming invested in. How do you create your characters and did you have any challenges with any of them?
Ha, I had challenges with pretty much all of them. TRANSPARENT was 100% rewritten, so the majority of the characters went through a ton of changes and refining (the villain isn’t even the same person as the original draft!). But I create characters pretty organically, usually they come with a problem or quirk and I fill them in from there. I make some mistakes as I get to know them, and I have to fix that in editing pretty often so that they are consistent and realistic.
5. I have a lot of challenges with my characters too. You picked a remote town in the desert as your setting. And I really got a sense that Fiona and maybe you love the desert. Why’d you pick that setting and what of your own experiences did you draw on in creating the new town Fiona lives in?
I actually hate the desert and heat, but Fiona really does love it! I think a lot of that stems from her invisibility, since she has to be nude to use her skill. It’d be pretty cold anywhere else. But Fiona also loves the starkness of the desert and the sense of isolation and the rough beauty. I prefer to look at pictures of the desert, though where I live is technically desert it definitely doesn’t get as hot as Arizona. I’d die there. That’s the funny thing about characters—they have some aspects of the author, but other things come completely out of left field.
So the choice of setting was practical because Fiona would need to use her ability at times while not freezing. But it also felt “logical” in the sense that many “secret” facilities or testing sites in America’s past have been located in the remote desert, which plays into the book.
As far as the town I created, Madison, I wanted it to have a bit of a “nostalgic” Route 66 kind of feel to it. While the book technically takes place in the near future, it also has deep roots in the Cold War era and people tend to hold on to the things from that time. So yeah, Madison is dusty and small and quiet, with old neon-lit stores but also more current things like “SuperMart” and Taco Bell, the one fast food place.
6. Love how you stuck to your Cold War theme in creating your town. As so funny that you hate the desert. You’d never guess from reading your book. I’d like to move onto the business aspect of writing. Your agent is now Ginger Clark, but your first agent was Nathan Bransford before he made a career change. Share a bit how Nathan became your agent and how it was to switch agents.
That is a long and interesting story, but I will try to be concise. I’d queried Nathan three times before I ended up winning his 1st Paragraph contest at the end of 2008. With that win, I was awarded a partial critique of my novel (a paranormal ninja YA because I’m weird like that), and he ended up requesting the full! Well, the book was really rough so it ended up as a Revise & Resend…which turned into an “exclusive” revision process with the prospect of an offer of representation.
All in all, I revised for Nathan for 9 months before the offer came, revised twice more after that, and finally went on sub in late 2009. A year later, the book still hadn’t sold, and Nathan told me he was leaving. I was devastated, but left in the very capable hands of Anna Webman. We kept that ninja book on sub for a little longer, but ultimately pulled it and subbed TRANSPARENT in early 2011. In mid-2012, Anna informed me she, too, was leaving, but that Ginger wanted me—I was very excited about this. Ginger (and all of Curtis Brown, really) has been amazing.
So I’ve had three agents…all before my 1st book debuts. It’s been very educational, because I’ve come to find that the idea of the “dream agent” isn’t real. There are many agents that are great and do their jobs well—and you can build a good working relationship with more than one person. Each time I’ve had a new agent, there was definitely a period where I had to figure out how they worked differently from my last agent. But as long as you are open and ask questions, the transition doesn’t have to be difficult.
7. That’s true there are lots of good agents. Thanks for reminding us not to get so stuck on our “dream” agent. I follow your blog and know that your road to selling your first books was not without its rocky moments. What was your road to a publishing contract like and what advice do you have for the rest of us?
Oh man, advice? I think I made every mistake in the book, so it still blows my mind that people would want to take advice from me. My “publishing road” in fast forward:
• 1st novel took almost two years to write. Queried five agents. Got five rejections. Promptly realized the book was awful. If only I’d realized that with the next, oh, six novels. (2005-2007)
• Two years spent writing furiously, querying furiously, and not understand just how much was involved in a true revision. Once Nathan finally taught me that, I got an offer of representation. (2007-2009)
• Two years on submission to editors. This was the phase that broke me. In fall of 2010 I finally admitted I had problems and that daily panic attacks were not, in fact, normal. I went on anxiety medication for the first time in my life, seriously considered quitting publishing because of what it was doing to me, and decided to give it one more shot before walking away. (2009-2011)
• Spring of 2011, I went out on sub with TRANSPARENT. I was a mess, but six weeks later we had an offer. One offer. No bells and whistles. But it was enough to make me a future published author…I just had to wait two more years for it to happen! So I spent those years editing, writing, and I even had a baby. That baby will be a year old just before TRANSPARENT debuts. (2011-2013).
• And now I’m here, about to become an author. I don’t have solid plans after my next novel, HOUSE OF IVY & SORROW, comes out late Winter 2014. I sure hope to sell something in the near future, but we’ll see.
So as far as advice, I guess keep trying? I was horribly impatient, and that made it more difficult than it needed to be. I wanted everything to happen NOW, and it was hard to watch my friends pass me by or get things that seemed so far in the future for me. I think if I would have focused more on craft and less on the business, I would have become a better writer sooner. And therefore a published writer sooner.
8. I’m moving very slowly toward even querying so I know what you mean about watching everyone else get agents and contracts. It’s hard not getting impatient with myself. I know you’re friends with Kiersten White, Shannon Messenger, and other published authors. Has watching them debut shaped at all your own plans for the release of your book? How so?
Yes and no. Kiersten and I started in the same place when we became friends: agentless, green, lots of drive and hope. She now has a full series out plus one before my first book comes out. Why? Oh, because publishing is weird like that. There’s so much of it that is out of your control and unexplainable.
I may have watched a few of my friends go through debut, etc. before my own, but that is kind of like watching someone else be pregnant. You can see that they are, but you don’t feel the reality like they feel it. While I could support them and encourage them, I couldn’t fully understand and also wanted so badly to be where they were. It kind of helped me prepare, but on the other hand every publishing path is so different that there were things I faced that they didn’t. Now I get what they were going through and how it’s both wonderful AND hard. Also a bit like having a baby, heh.
9. Has there been anything in becoming a debut author that surprised you?
Hmm…probably the most surprising thing was that, well, there wasn’t anything very surprising or life-changing about it. That sounds sad, but it isn’t. I think before I sold a book I believed that publishing would make me happier. Oh, I wouldn’t say that out loud because I knew you weren’t supposed to think that, but deep down in my subconscious that’s how I felt.
Very little changed, and my problems didn’t magically go away, and I still have good days and bad days and most are somewhere in between. I still live in the same place, I still stay at home to take care of my crazy kids, and the act of writing a novel is still terrifying and yet wonderful. I’ve already had a novel or two rejected post-deal, so not even that has changed much. Publishing is still hard.
I don’t want that to discourage people, but it’s a reality of this career. If you are struggling, if things aren’t going how you hoped, well, you’re not alone. It also doesn’t mean it will never happen. It’s just hard. And that’s okay. I’m beginning to accept that. Hard things are worth it, right?
10. Thanks for sharing that. Because I agree with you that getting published doesn’t really change life that much and doesn’t guarantee how long it will take to sell your next book. What are you working on now?
The project I’m working on at this very moment is a huge secret, alas. But besides that, I am looking forward to getting back into a contemporary YA novel I wrote fall of last year. I have some edits to do for my agent, and then I hope to see it sell because I love that book so much it’s not even funny. We’ll see. I know enough about sub to be cautious with my emotions, heh.
Once I get that on sub, I plan to write another contemporary YA that’s been on the back burner thanks to my current secret project.
Thanks for sharing all your advice, Natalie. You can find Natalie at:
Deviant Art: http://nataliewhipple.deviantart.com/
I’m offering an e-book of TRANSPARENT for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment by midnight on May 31st. I’ll announce the winner on June 3rd.
If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 or older to enter. International entries are welcome.
Here’s what’s coming up:
On Wednesday, I’m interviewing debut author Dorine White about her book, THE EMERALD RING. I really enjoyed learning about the powers of the emerald ring with Sara, a smart middle grader, and her friends. And I found the mythology based on Cleopatra to be unique.
I’ll be off on Monday, Memorial Day. Yay! We all need a rest.
Next Wednesday, I’m participating in HB Bolten’s blog tour for her new book, THE SERPENT’S RING, a middle grade fantasy that will fans of Percy Jackson should like. There will be a giveaway too.
The following Monday, I have an interview with Merrie Haskell and a giveaway of HANDBOOK FOR DRAGON SLAYERS, a story about a runaway princess who learns about dragons, danger, and duty. I loved Merrie's first book, THE PRINCESS CURSE, and can't wait to read this new book of hers.
And don't forget our Tuesday Tips and Casey's Thursday agent spotlights.
Hope to see you on Wednesday!
Posted by Natalie Aguirre on Monday, May 20, 2013