Welcome, Anne! So tell us, what is the name and genre of your manuscript?
The Clearing is a YA paranormal novel.
Let's hear your pitch.
When Natalie Watson's parents die in what appears to be a bizarre double-suicide, she is shipped from her home in Georgia to a boarding school in Maine. Her aunt is the headmistress and provides Natalie with a certain degree of comfort, but the other students are a different story. In the midst of fending off bullies and overly-charming jocks, Natalie meets Liam - in a super embarrassing way - and decides to solve the mystery of whether or not he murdered his sister the year before, like the rumors say. One night, she sees him sneaking off into the woods - and that's when she gets pulled deep into a world she never knew existed. A world that spans hundreds of years and dozens of dimensions. A world that might hold the key to solving her parents' mysterious deaths....
Ooh, intriguing! I feel like following Natalie into those woods and finding out what happens. How did the idea of the story come to you?
I've had this story in my head for years. I always thought the old "write what you know" thing was kind of boring, so instead I write what I want to read. I've always been intrigued by boarding schools and the possibilities they hold.
And you've got an agent! That's great. For those of us who don't have one yet, can you tell us if there's a way to know if an agent is the right fit?
Finding an agent is hard work! Somehow, it happened pretty quickly for me, but that was definitely a fluke. It takes a lot of research and a pretty large Excel spreadsheet to keep you from going insane. The best website out there for finding an agent is www.agentquery.com. This is the site I used. It lets you narrow down agents by the genres they represent, and it also gives you links to their websites. From there, you can see what they have sold and who they represent, and find someone who would be a good fit for you.
You've done a lot of revision for your book. Do you feel you've done all you can do to it at this point?
At this point, yes. But if a publisher buys it? Oh, I'm sure there will be more revision then. And once it's bound and on the shelves, I'll probably read through it and find things I could improve. A writer's work is never done!
Besides your agent, and suggestions for revisions by editors at publishing houses, do you have a critique partner or beta readers?
Strangely, no. I mean, not officially. Several versions of the manuscript ago, I let a couple of friends read through it and tell me their thoughts - but that was only a one time thing. The only other people who have read it are my husband, my parents, and my agent (who is the ULTIMATE critique partner!). I tend to work solo for the most part, only asking for help if I'm really stuck.
What’s the hardest part of writing that you've struggled through?
Keeping up with the changes I've made throughout the various rounds of editing. It's hard for me to remember what I said about this character ten chapters ago, and whether or not I ever resolved that one thing I said in Chapter 2... things like that. Outlines are pretty much priceless for me because my memory is useless.
My memory is useless too, so I understand how an outline can be priceless, lol. Any tips you’ve learned about writing you’d like to share?
Just practice. Start a blog, write short stories, whatever you can do. You don't get better unless you write constantly.
I totally agree. So, do you have an ideal book cover?
Fairy rings are a central part of my story (those circles of mushrooms that crop up randomly) so I think I would like to see one of those on the cover.
That sounds perfect! Tell us, who are your inspirations?
Like the rest of the world, I'm obsessed with J.K. Rowling. I also love Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games), Kate Morton (The Forgotten Garden) and Kathryn Stockett (The Help). Also, David Gray's music totally gets me in the mood. *ahem* The writing mood, I should specify.
Hehe, I'm sure we all knew what you meant. Let’s get to know you on a deeper level. Can you name three things about yourself people may not know (or maybe they do know but they are special traits/hobbies/quirks)?
- I love to make lists. Like this one. It's part of my organization-obsessed personality.
- I lived in Spain as an exchange student for six months when I was in college.
- I often carry my passport in my purse, just in case I need to quickly leave the country. (One time, I used it for exactly that purpose. See? I'm not crazy.)
Don't worry, I think crazy is a good trait anyway. *wink* Here’s the part where you thank the people who are supporting you. Who would you like to give a shout out to?
My husband, for putting up with my crazy writer self on a daily basis. My parents, for raising me in a household filled with books (and love, or whatever... j/k). My friends who have read all of, or a portion of, the manuscript and didn't tell me to burn it. And my agent, Alanna Ramirez, for being totally awesome.
And finally, where can people find you online?
And coming soon, a real website! www.annerileybooks.com. It's not there yet - but it won't be long!
Ooh, I'll keep an eye out for your new website! Thank you so much, Anne, for letting me interview you. I know you're in the midst of another round of submissions to publishers, so I wish you all the luck in the world. We're all crossing our fingers for you!