This is the WASTED BLOG. For my main author website, click this link.

Awards: WASTED won the Read it or Else category in the Coventry Award and was runner-up in the North East Book Award. It is longlisted for the Carnegie Medal and shortlisted for the Manchester, Grampian, Angus, and RED Awards.


Friday, 21 May 2010

DELLA SAYS OMG AND MY SO-CALLED AFTERLIFE

A double interview here today, with two brand new YA authors, both of whom I know through Twitter. The first is Keris Stainton, author of Della Says: OMG! and the second is Tamsyn Murray, author of My So-Called Afterlife. I've read both books and loved them. They are very different from Wasted and very different from each other, but I link them in my mind because they are both what I call "fresh new voices", they both show how much YA fcition has broadened and moved on in the last few years and they both tackle tough topics in a deceptively light way.

Later today, I'm also over on Keris's blog - come and join us there, but DO first take a peek into their minds and comment below.


Hello Keris!

Do you have an examples of how an unpredictable "random" event has changed your life?

Years ago I read a magazine article that really resonated with me. It was called Get What You Really Want. It was fairly typical 'seize the day' type stuff, but so funny and inspiring that I googled the writer, Martha Beck, and read that she had a book coming out called Finding Your Own North Star: How to Claim the Life You Were Meant to Live. At the time, I totally felt that I'd taken a wrong turn and was living the wrong life and so I couldn't read it fast enough. It not only made me realise I wanted to be a writer, but it also convinced me that I could be a writer, that I SHOULD be a writer. I started taking steps towards my "right life" and now I'm living it.

I read a lot of magazines, but I hardly ever even finish articles (short attention span) let alone tear them out and get googling. I'm sure I would have heard about Martha Beck at some point, but I truly trace the transformation of my life to reading that one article.
Did luck play any part in you getting your publishing deal?
I actually pitched a different agent at the agency I'm with now and she passed me on to Alice, who was just starting out with her own list. And then when Alice sent my book to Orchard they'd just started expanding their teen list. So, yes, I definitely feel like my manuscript was in the right place at the right time... twice.
Do you think we can affect our own luck? A lot or a little or not at all? Can you give an example of something that's happened to you that might look like luck but was actually based on good decisions?
My journalism career probably looks like luck to many. I gave up my job after selling just two articles (both to the same magazine) and then had (and continue to have, I hope) a moderately successful freelance career. I'd always believed you needed to have worked on staff and made lots of contacts to make it as a freelancer, but I just threw myself in and hoped for the best. As to whether we an affect our own luck... I tend to believe the Seneca quote: "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity."
Would you ever be tempted (or have you ever been) to have your fortune told? If a fortune-teller gave you a warning, would it change how you behaved??
No. I have no interest in fortune telling really. I don't believe a word of it and yet I'm scared of it at the same time.
What three things do you "thank your lucky stars" for?

1. My husband, David. Not only is he funny and lovely, he cooks, does the washing and, er, contributed to my two amazing and gorgeous sons.

2. My health. And I really wanted to say "touch wood" then, even though I don't believe in that either. And I've deleted this twice since I don't want to "jinx" it. Ha.

3. Martha Beck. Really. She set me on the right path and continues to inspire me every day.
Thanks, Keris and good luck with Della - may you and she go places!


Now, over to Tamsyn. Same questions, otherwise it wouldn't be fair and they might fight each other. Or me.


Do you have an examples of how an unpredictable "random" event has changed your life?
I do. A few years ago, I was looking for a part-time job and got chatting to a stranger about work. She told me her friend owned a pub and was looking for a barmaid. I went to the pub and the owner gave me a job. A few days later, I met the man who would become the father of my daughter.
Did luck play any part in you getting your publishing deal?
I think it played a part in getting my agent, which in turn influenced my publishing deal. A friend pointed out that a new agent had started up around the same time that I'd finished my manuscript. I queried the agent and she asked to see the full MS. A couple of months later, following her heavy-duty editorial advice, she signed me to her agency and a few months after that I had a publishing deal. If my friend hadn't told me about that agent, my book would have looked very different and might not have been published at all.
[I think you're wrong in assigning this to luck: if your book hadn't been good enough or promising enough, the agent would have utterly ignored you!]

Do you think we can affect our own luck? A lot or a little or not at all? can you give an example of something that's happened to you that might look like luck but was actually based on good decisions?

Yes, to a certain extent I do think we make our own luck. I tend to be optimistic and expect things to work out for the best. I've been known to give up jobs I didn't like, for example, and have the perfect job drop into my lap within days. I've had a lot of success with my writing in a relatively short period of time, too, which on the surface looks like luck but is actually a case of understanding the market and writing something publishers are looking for. [YES!]
Would you ever be tempted (or have you ever been) to have your fortune told? If a fortune-teller gave you a warning, would it change how you behaved??
When I was twenty-one, I went to a group reading with two psychics. I didn't know many people there but listened as one of the psychics worked his around the circle, making comments to people at random. When he got to me, he studied me for a minute, then said, "Why did you give up writing? You have something to say." No one in that room knew I wanted to be a writer, I don't think I even knew I wanted to write. It stayed with me all my adult life until the day I picked up a how to write book and realised it was what I was meant to do. That was two years ago and I think I'm now a writer. Whether or not I have anything to say is another matter...
[Spooky.]
What three things do you "thank your lucky stars" for?
My health, my family and my empathy.
Thanks, both and may we all have luck with our books!

3 comments:

Creepy Query Girl said...

Great interviews! Thanks so much Keris and Tamsyn for sharing your stories and Nicola for having them on here!

Debs Riccio said...

Brilliant interview - fab questions - both very fab books too!

Tam said...

Thanks for having me to stay on your blog, Nicola. I've folded the towels and left them at the bottom of the bed :)

PS I meant that it was lucky my friend mentioned the new agent in the first place rather than lucky the agent liked my MS.