Last Wednesday, I had the pleasure of attending local DFW author Heather Reid's debut party for her novel Pretty Dark Nothing. It was so much fun meeting Heather and the whole slew of DFW area authors & bloggers, most of whom I'd already met at TLA, at least in passing. I had no idea when I moved to Dallas how amazing the reading community is here, but I'm so thankful for it!
Heather started off the night by saying a few words about her journey to becoming an author:
"It's been a dream of mine ever since I can remember. My best friend used to edit my
stories. Sometimes dreams fade away when you get older because of the daily grind.
You forget what you're passionate about. There wer when I didn't focus on writing,
but 7 or 8 years ago, I sent a manuscript for query. An editor at the big six wanted
my book, and asked for a full manuscript, then passed. It was the best thing that
could have happened. Don't give up on your dreams. It may take time, it may take
years, lots of work, but you can do it."
She followed up these inspirational words by reading the locker room scene from Pretty Dark Nothing, and then took some questions from the audience.
Q1. (from ya author Mary Gray) I love the tangible presence of the demons, it makes the story relatable. As a writer, I love first person pov. Why did you choose third person and multi pov?
A. Quinn and Aaron's voices came at the same time. Aaron's voice is so interesting! I prefer to read third so I always wrote in third. Right now I'm working on a story in first person.
Q2. How do you feel first and third person compare?
A. I just spent more time writing in third person, but it's a close third, not omni. Third allows more leeway for description.
Q3. Pretty Dark Nothing is your first published book, but what was the first thing you ever wrote?
A. It was a picture book that was a mishmash of my favorite picture stories. I was four or five years old, and my mom helped spell the words. No one will ever see it. In seventh grade I would be in spelling class, sneaking a pad and pen, writing my first novel, which will also never be seen. I wanted to be published by 16.
Q4. Could you describe the creative process for the title?
A. When Darkness Whispers was the first title, but it was too similar to several other novels. My publisher picked a title that I hated so they went back to the drawing board. They came back with a couple titles, and I loved Pretty Dark Nothing.
Q5. During the journey from aspiring writer to where you are now, you encountered challenges. At what point did you decide, "No matter what, this is," like a moment of conviction. How hard was it to make modifications and not feel like you were selling out?
A. That turning point came around 21 or 22. I had a magazine on my desk with an ad for the Institute for Children's Literature. It was a correspondence course to write for kids. It taught me a lot about storytelling. I started writing picture books and for magazines. I decided to try young adult. Pretty Dark Nothing came from my experience with insecurity and depression. I went to confressences and networked to figure out where to go. Networking won't always get you where you want to go, but it helps. Meet people, be genuine. Write what you love. Be who you are, do what you love. Don't write to a market. Editors are there to help, not tear your work apart like some people believe. It's a partnership. Criticism? It's there. It's not about having thick skin. Be realistic that some people love it and they get it; that's who you're writing for. Keep that in your head. Focus on the people who are interested. It does hurt because it's personal; writing is personal.
Q6. What was the last book you read that you liked?
A. Grave Mercy. Love Robin LaFevers. Divergent. Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock.
Q7. Me: Goodreads has your book listed as Pretty Dark Nothing #1. Will there be sequels?
A. I'm writing book two now. It'll be out April 2014. There's a cliffhanger in Pretty Dark Nothing, be warned! There's an option for book three, but it's not contracted. I'd love to do a third book, though!
Q8. Do you have lots of ideas?
A. Yes! Living in Scotland, I was sitting by the sea, writing in a journal, when a character seemingly exploded from the sea. I wrote three pages worth, then told that character I was too busy to write for her just then. I put her on the back burner. I've been trying to work out Pretty Dark Nothing #2 when that character just came back.
Q9. How much back and forth is there when your editor insists on a change?
A. For Pretty Dark Nothing, there weren't many structural or character changes, just pacing and some motivations. I don't know if it was luck or just what happened to me. I agreed with 98% of the cuts, but the 2% that I put my food down for, that's what's in the book.
Q10. Did you consider self-publishing?
A. There's nothing wrong with self-publishing. I just wanted to go traditional or small press. I wanted to knock on all the doors, more that traditional route. What I'd always dreamed about was holding a paperback, having a marketing plan. Self-publishing is amazing, but not was I saw for me. There are hybrids now, depending on what works, so never say never!
Heather finished out the night with a small signing with the remaining stock of first editions for Pretty Dark Nothing and I snagged a copy for a giveaway!
Details: One winner will win a signed copy of Pretty Dark Nothing and two others will win a signed bookplate. Open to US/CA only. Ends midnight June 6 EST. All entries will be verified!
a Rafflecopter giveaway