Friday, December 10, 2010
Author Interview with Becca Fitzpatrick
Becca: I think it's always a little scary for an author to see how their latest book is received. But so far (fingers crossed!) I believe my readers are happy with how Patch and Nora's story has continued. It's also been very exciting to see how well the book has done outside of the United States, particularly in the UK and Australia.
Scott: Your first novel, Hush Hush, became a New York Times best seller, how long did it take for that to happen and how did that feel? For a new author that must have been the best feeling.
Becca: I think it might come as a surprise to some that it took me five years to sell Hush, Hush. During that period, I received nearly 100 rejections from literary agents. I thought it would take a miracle to get the book published, but I was determined. So you can imagine my surprise when the book eventually sold at auction and went on to debut on the New York Times best-seller list. I thought the world was playing a joke on me—an incredible, amazing joke to say the least! I think in my case, it was all about persistence, luck and timing.
Scott: A lot of new writers often ask about the amount of pages or words that a published author produces each day. How much time would you spend writing on a typical day, (if a typical day exists for a writer that is)?
Becca: Writing isn't my full-time job; I have two little boys at home, and they're my top priority. That said, I do make sure I cut out time every day for writing, even if it's only thirty minutes. I usually aim for two hours of daily writing time, five days a week. Someday I hope to increase that, but I also think it's important to live a balanced life.
Scott: What was the inspiration for Hush, Hush and its sequel? My daughter absolutely loved your books and thinks they are very original and well written.
Becca: Oddly enough, Hush, Hush was inspired by something that happened to me in my own high school biology class. There's a scene in the book where the main character's biology teacher asks her to name characteristics she'd want in a mate. My bio teacher asked me the same question during our unit on human reproduction! In Crescendo, I also relied on experiences from my high school years. I tried to recapture what it feels like to fall in love for the first time, to feel betrayal for the first time, and dealing with complicated family situations.
Scott: What sparked your interest in writing and did you start off by writing short stories or go straight to working on a novel? What markets did you send your short fiction to?
Becca: It's a funny story—I didn't start writing until my husband surprised me by enrolling me in a writing class for my 24th birthday. I was so nervous to be in the class. All of the other students had graduated college with degrees in English or literature, and I graduated in health. I felt completely out of my element, but I'm glad I stuck with it. I'd been an avid journal-writer for so many years, but I never knew how much I'd love telling stories. It was in that class that I started writing Hush, Hush, nearly eight years ago. I've only written one short story, and let me tell you, it was harder than writing a novel!
Scott: How do you approach your writing? Do you tend to develop a story in your mind and then proceed to conduct some research or is more of an organic method where you write the story first and research any technical aspects later?
Becca: Because of deadlines, I have to outline my stories first. I don't feel like I have the leisure of writing draft after draft, and letting the story take me where it will. For better or worse, I'm more structured. At some point, I'd love to take several years to write a story, and let it truly sweep me along.
Scott: As a writer it is interesting to hear what other writers read in their spare time. It is often surprising to hear the genres and variety of books other authors read. Can you tell us what are you reading at the moment and what you five favorite books are?
Becca: I usually read several books at once, and I have them stashed all over the house. Right now I'm reading Wither by Lauren DeStefano, Matched by Ally Condie, the infamous Freakonomics, and I'm rereading A Monstrous Regiment of Women by Laurie R. King. Favorites are always so hard, especially when it comes to books. I feel like my list is always changing. As of this moment, I'd say The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle and Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale.
Scott: There seems to be a lot more options available to authors to get published now compared to say a decade ago. What advice would you offer to unpublished writers in approaching publishers for the first time?
Becca: This is a tricky question, because it really depends on the writer and his/her goals. But in general, I would suggest getting a literary agent. So many publishers only accept submissions from agented writers. I also suggest attending writing conferences and making contacts with other writers, agents and editors. It can be very difficult to break into the market, but it's not impossible. Persistence goes a long way.
Scott: Thank you very much for your time. I look forward to your next book.
Becca: Thanks, Scott!