How They Got Here: 2009 Debut Author Aprilynne Pike

This post is part of a year-long series of blog interviews I’ll be hosting with my fellow 2009 Debut Authors, called "How They Got Here." 

It should be an especially helpful series for teens who write, teachers, and anyone who wants to write for kids.  2009 debut authors will be dropping by to talk about how their writing in school shaped the authors they are today, what teachers can do to make a difference, how they revise, and how they found their agents and editors.  (You’ll even be able to read some successful query letters!)  If you know a teacher or two who might be interested, please share the link!

Today…Aprilynne Pike, author of WINGS!

Aprilynne Pike’s WINGS is the first of four books about an ordinary girl named Laurel who discovers she is a faerie sent among humans to guard the gateway to Avalon. When Laurel is thrust into the midst of a centuries-old battle between faeries and trolls, she’s torn between a human and a faerie love, as well as her loyalties to both worlds.

Welcome, Aprilynne! Tell us about the first thing you ever wrote that made you think maybe you were a writer.

I had a fiction instructor in college who would occasionally, at the end of a short-story critique, say, "Clean it up; send it out." It was the highest of compliments, and something she didn’t say often. I was part of an extremely talented class and I didn’t (still don’t) think my stuff was as good as theirs. But I had one story that I really liked and worked really hard on. And at the end of the class critique, my professor looked at me, met my eyes, and say, "Clean it up; send it out." That was the moment I thought it just might be possible to someday get something published.

What books did you love when you were a kid?

I loved way too many books to list here, but some of my most memorable ones were The Boxcar Children, anything by VC Andrews, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi, The Fairy Rebel by Lynne Reid Banks, and The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis.

Is there a particular teacher or librarian who was a mentor for you in your reading and writing life?

Janet Cain; my junior English teacher. She taught me to love literature, Not just books, and not just modern texts, she taught me to love all well-written literature. I read more classic literature in her class than any other I’ve ever taken . . . and half of it was unassigned!:)

Moving on to the here and now, most writers admit that making time to write can sometimes be a challenge.  When and where do you write?   Do you have any special rituals?  Music?  Food & beverages?

I have three young children and–until recently–a husband in law school. So I write when I can. Ideally, I like to lock myself in my office and get comfy with my laptop, but that’s not always possible. I like drinks and snacks while working, because I’ve learned that writing takes a degree of physical stamina as well as mental. I don’t generally listen to music, because I find myself typing the lyrics instead of my story.:) But I am a Diet Root Beer junkie and often have a cup of tea at hand as well.

Do you have a favorite strategy for revision?

I know a lot of authors who save everything they cut out of their manuscripts, just in case. I have found that I do better revisions when I just delete stuff. After all, if I decide later that I really do need that paragraph that I cut, I can probably write it better the second time anyway. I have to just move forward and not dwell on what parts of my original baby aren’t there anymore. I don’t hang on to them. (Unless they’d make a really fun deleted scene; I give myself one of those per book. Everything else goes.)

What’s your best advice for young writers?

Read. You will never learn more about story and plot than by reading. I think that authors who either don’t read, or don’t read much, are missing out.

What’s special about your debut novel?

I have faeries like no faeries you’ve ever seen before. It’s one of the things I am proudest of!

What were the best and worst parts of writing it?

The best part of writing my book was discovering the perfect ending.

The worst part was discovering that the previous ending that I thought was perfect, well, wasn’t. Not being able to write the right ending on WINGS was the first time I ever cried about my writing.

How did you find your agent and/or editor?

I was lucky enough to have a recommendation for my agent, however, there was a mix-up in the office and she didn’t actually get it for over ten months. During that time, I did the query thing. I got rejections (lots of them) and several requests for partials and fulls . . . and more rejections.;) Even though I ended up signing with the first agent I sent stuff to, I feel like experiencing the full gamut of querying was really good for me. Every author should be intimately acquainted with the sting of rejection. Then they are less likely to forget just how sweet that first yes is.

Thanks, Aprilynne!

You can read more about Aprilynne at her website. You can pick up your copy of WINGS at your local independent bookseller, order it through one of my favorite indies, Flying Pig Bookstore (they ship!), or find an indie near you by checking out IndieBound!

Up next in the "How They Got Here" Debut 2009 series… C. Lee McKenzie, author of SLIDING ON THE EDGE, will be stopping by on Thursday.