This week is an Official Week of Awesomeness, because I'm participating in Pay It Forward Week! This little baby is the brainchild of Elana Johnson, she of the awesomesauce e-book, and LiLa Roecker, my future partners in the Midwest Writing and Armwrestling Awesomeness Tour. The concept is simple: all this week, 15 of us pre-pubbed author types are interviewing fellow debuts about Issues of Importance. I'm talking things like "Do you ever feel like giving up?" and "Do you like M&Ms?" That's right, baby, these are things that will help YOU in your writing.
My first interview is with the lovely and talented Kody Keplinger. She's an 18-year-old debut writer whose book The DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) is way at the top of my to-read list. And she speaks mad ghetto, yo.
1. Tell us about your book. (You like how I use the royal "us"? Wow I'm kewl.)
THE DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) will be out September 7, 2010 with LittleBrown/Poppy. It's what my agent referred to as an "anti-romance-romance" about a very cynical girl named Bianca who uses an enemies-with-benefits relationship with Wesley, a notorious man-slut (but a hot one!) who she hates, in order to distract herself from some personal issues - including her struggles with body image. It's kind of a dark-ish romantic comedy with a Juno-esque tone.
2. Can you tell us a little bit about your road to publication (finding an agent)?
I got very lucky. With my first "decent" novel (the first one I queried) I realized early on that it wasn't going to work. I wrote THE DUFF for fun more than anything. I had this story and these characters and I wanted to play with them. I had a blast writing it, and my beta readers loved it, so I decided to query.
I was so stressed at first because I had hardly any responses. I sent out like 20 queries and only got 6 replies. Only 2 were requests. When the first partial request came back as a rejection, I was sure that the agent reading my full would come back and reject it for the same issue - not connecting with my main character, who is, to be honest, pretty cynical and sarcastic and not always nice. But only a few days after I sent off the full, my agent (the fabulous Joanna Volpe) asked to talk. I knew what that probably meant and I was in complete shock. Funnily enough, she said the exact opposite of what I expected about my main character - she said her connection with Bianca was the part that really drew her in. Which just goes to show you how subjective this whole thing can be.
After a short revision, Joanna sold my book at auction after only a couple weeks on submission. I wound up with Poppy, with the best editor EVER working with me on my book. I just got my advanced copies in early March, and I think it's finally setting in that this whole thing is real!
3. Was there ever a time you felt like giving up? Why didn't you?
I never really felt like giving up so much as not trying at all. I was only 17 when I wrote THE DUFF, and I often thought about just not trying. I almost convinced myself that the book was utter teenage spewing crap that no one but me would love. I knew I would get better with age and then try again, but I thought about just waiting.
I decided against this when 3 beta readers came back with glowing reviews and very few suggestions for revision. I really didn't think anyone but ME would love this book, but they all did and they strongly advised me to query. So I did. And I'm glad I decided to get over my fear and just try. It all comes back to that saying. You never know unless you try.
Thanks for that wicked awesome interview, homey. (Man, I am so white.)
Visit Kody on the web at:
You should totally check out the other interviewers this week. MORE questions! MORE awesomeness! MORE royal 'we'! How can you resist? Well, you can't.
Suzette Saxton/Bethany Wiggins