Oh-Em-Gee. Y’all are so like not gonna buh-lieve this. Leigh Fallon agreed to be interviewed and to have said interview featured on Words That Fly!!!! Eeeeeee! Unfortunately, I’ve been at work all day and was unable to post it before now… but better late then never, right? Also this is perfect timing because Words That Fly is one month old!!! OMG! If I trusted my baking skills I’d make it a birthday cupcake with a candle and everything. Anyway, onto to more interesting things! Be warned, it’s a super long interview and I couldn’t believe I wrote it.
It’s Leigh Fallon everyone! For all of you who follow the doings of the YA world, you’ll know her as the writer of the much anticipated Carrier of the Mark. Despite being the mother of four small children, she’ agreed to do an interview to be featured here and here it is.
1. So I know you’re a mother of four, how do you find time to do your writing?
As a writer I make time. When I was writing Carrier, I’d write at night when the kids were in bed. This year they’re all in school which has freed up some more time, but there are never enough hours in the day for me.
2. You were part of a writing community called Inkpop where your book, Carrier of the Mark, made it into the top five and was then reviewed by editors at HarperCollins. How did you feel about all this? Did it ever seem like you were dreaming?
It did! Inkpop was great. Carrier was welcomed with open arms and it flew up the charts. I was only on Inkpop two or three weeks before it got into the top five. It was an amazing experience. When I got the email from the editor at HarperCollins I nearly dropped dead from shock. I SO was not expecting it.
3. Do you think that writing communities, writing support groups, etc., are good ideas? Would you advise aspiring writers to be a part of one?
I do. I think they are brilliant. The help and advice you get from readers and other writers is worth its weight in gold. The publishing world is a tough place to navigate and the more polish and support you have going into that, the better, and you get both from websites like Inkpop.
4. When you get the initial idea for a story how do you choose to build on it exactly?
At first it’s just a fleeting thought. If it grabs me, I allow myself to do some daydreaming, running scenarios through my head, if they start coming together and I get excited about it, I’ll start writing a synopsis of how the story will go and do a brief outline of the characters. Normally, I’ll get a really clear picture of particular scenes, like as if I were watching a movie. When I start to see the book with such clarity, I know it’s a book I’ll be writing.
If you like what you’ve read so far, then there’s more after the break!
I wrote Carrier in about six months. I wrote obsessively, every day in long hand. I brought my notebooks everywhere. It was like an addiction.
6. How long do you have to work on its sequel? And does the deadline make it writing more stressful and less enticing?
I have the rough first draft of the sequel written. I’m taking an ‘eye’ break from it at the moment so when I got back to edit it into submission my eyes will be fresh and ruthless. I don’t have a deadline for it yet, though I must admit, I love deadlines. I work really well when I’m under pressure, it keeps me focused and flicks on my obsessive button, which is always a good thing in writing.
7. Now that you’ve accomplished your dream, is it everything you had hoped for?
Yes! And so much more. I’m loving every second of it, and I’ve been very surprised by the amazingly friendly and supportive writing community. The authors, bloggers, readers, and publishers are so brilliant. I never knew that world existed until I was part of it.
8. What’s on your must read list?
On my new must read list are Shatter Me, Cold Kiss, A Beautiful Dark, Eve, Imaginary Girls, Hourglass, Half-Blood, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer… oh gosh there are SO many. I could go on and on.
9. Do you follow some of the more well known rules for writers such as write everyday and did you follow them before getting published?
Nope. I did it my way. I just wrote when I could. I didn’t set any goals or expectations. With Carrier I was obsessed and wrote ALL the time. I don’t like writing in small chunks. I like to get deeply involved in the book I’m working on. So I don’t start writing unless I know I’ve the day to commit to it. I’d find it very hard to write just 1000 words and then leave it to add to it the next day. If I did that I’d end up chucking the 1000 words I wrote the previous day and starting again as they’d feel… disjointed to me. I generally would write at least a chapter in one sitting.
10. I know you probably get this question a lot but, what advice would you give aspiring writers?
Write what you love and what you know. Edit, edit, and edit some more. Get yourself some critique partners and beta readers. Join a writer’s forum to raise your profile and get help and support. Be persistent and never give up. You’ll get there eventually.
11. Tell me more about Carrier of the Mark. Where did your inspiration come from? Did you get ideas from Irish folklore and then added your own touches?
The ideas came to me like scenes from a movie. The characters felt real to me. I was living in Kinsale at the time and could visualize the story playing out in front of me. I did a little research to tie my story in with a little Celtic folklore to give the story some backbone and hey presto, you get Carrier.
12. How does your husband feel about your writing? Did you feel nervous about sharing your passion for writing with your family?
My husband has a love hate relationship with my writing. LOL. He loves the fact that I’m successful and has high hopes for the future, planning an early retirement (eh, you better hold off on that for another couple of years, love). But he also gets pretty peeved at the crappy dinners, messy house, and unwashed clothes. I’ve never been a domestic goddess, but I’ve reached an all-time low in recent months. LOL.
13. What’s your greatest strength when it comes to your writing? Is it your dialogue, your character development, your pacing/flow?
Gosh, it’s tough to say really. I guess I’m a dialogue person. I love to build depth and character through dialogue. It’s so much more fun than narrative.
14. What are your thoughts on self-publishing?
It’s a growing industry. There are several mainstream authors doing the self-publishing thing at the moment and making gazillions from it. Personally, I like the support of a publisher, especially as a debut. Unless you have a globally known name, you can drown in the self-published market. People with, marketing and PR skills, and an unyielding desire to succeed at any cost can make it work, but you need to be VERY driven and social media savvy.
15. Did you feel like giving up at any point of your journey? And what made you decide to persevere?
I’ve never felt like giving up. I’ve been very lucky. This has all happened so fast. Carrier was my first attempt at writing, it went from an idea to a publishing deal in one year, I didn’t get a chance to get disillusioned.
16. Can you give me a little overview on what happened as you tried to get Carrier of the Mark published?
After I finished Carrier I blindly tried my hand at getting a publisher/agent. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I sent off a couple of submissions and agent queries that all ended in rejections. They made me realise I was doing something wrong. So that’s when I joined some writing forums and discovered getting published was practically impossible and my manuscript was not polished enough to be even considered. I got lots of advice from other writers on the writer’s forums and continued to edit Carrier, then stumbled upon Inkpop… and the rest is history.
17. What was your editing process like? Is your finished book very different from your earlier drafts?
It’s different, but the same. I went through the usual three rounds of edits. The first round of line edits was the biggest. I had to shift around some scenes and tighten up my story. There were certain elements that were enhanced, to highlight them a bit more. But ultimately all the characters and the plot remained the same.
18. Is Young adult something you aimed to write? Do you really have a preferred genre?
YA is an exciting genre. I read a lot of YA and adult books, but I find YA calls to me more, it appeals to the teenager that I still am at heart. Carrier was always going to be a YA book. There is something so special about the YA years. Life is full of possibilities and freedom. Nothing has been determined and anything is possible.
Besides the Carrier Series, I’ve two other books in the works. One is a YA ghost story and the other is a YA Sci-Fi, so for the moment I’m sticking with YA… and why not? It rocks.
So like I said, super long interview, I’d be tired if I wasn’t jumping up and down in my seat. Remember all, Carrier of the Mark is coming to bookstores in Fall 2011 and you should NOT miss it!
Bring on the writing!
K, the Popinjay