Monday, May 2, 2011

TBG Author Interview: Emily Hainsworth

In honor of officially being DONE with college classes for the summer (WOO-HOO!), it's my pleasure to present to you a super awesome interview with the lovely Emily Hainsworth, whose debut YA novel, THROUGH TO YOU comes out in Fall 2012 from Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins!

Here's the summary of the book from Emily's website: Eighteen-year-old Camden Pike is grieving for his dead girlfriend until he discovers she’s still alive in a parallel reality–one where he’s the one who died. The only problem is, she’s hiding some very dangerous secrets that have life-or-death repercussions in both worlds.

Doesn't that sound amazing?! What's really special for me about this particular book is that when I stumbled upon its description while reading another interview with Emily online, I couldn't get it out of my head. I literally thought about it for days afterward and marveled at how creative someone would have to be to come up with a book that awesome. And that's when I knew: I had to snag an interview to learn more about the mastermind behind this fabulous book! So, without further ado, on to the interview!

1) Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?
Yes, since high school I’ve wanted to be a YA writer in particular!

2) How did you come up with the idea for THROUGH TO YOU? Did it just come to you, or was it more of a gradual progression?
The idea for THROUGH TO YOU developed gradually for sure. I had been thinking a lot about some choices I’ve made and how my life might have turned out if I’d chosen differently. That got me thinking how interesting it would be if a character could SEE what might have happened to them if they’d made the “other choice.”

3) Where do you draw your inspiration from while you are writing? For example, do you listen to music while you write or sit outside?
I definitely draw a lot of inspiration from music, but I can’t listen to anything with lyrics while I write – too distracting. An image, thought, or feeling will often inspire a scene for me, and when that happens I just try to hold onto it until I feel like I’ve captured it in words.

4) How do you stay motivated to write? Even though you are a soon-to-be-published author, have you ever wanted to give up? And if so, how did you pull yourself back from the "edge"?
Everyone has moments when they get discouraged and want to give up. For me, the desire to succeed has far outweighed the urge to quit. If I failed, I adjusted my approach, my outlook, and my goals. Publishing is a moving target, not necessarily something you get closer to with every step. Each failure is a lesson in technique and maneuver…but it doesn’t hurt to keep your fingers crossed too.

5) Tell us about your writing habits: where you write, when you write, how much you write, etc.
Out of necessity, I write mostly at night. I have a day job that just does not allow time to sneak any writing in, so getting words on the page is my biggest priority in the evening and on weekends. I try to write 1000 words per night if I can. Sometimes it’s more and sometimes less. I’m a nomadic writer, but I’m most often parked on the couch with my laptop, and my dog keeping my feet warm.

6) How do you deal with constructive (or not) criticism? And if it's negative, how do you deal with it?
I might be a glutton for punishment, but I LOVE criticism. I have two wonderful critique partners who don’t hesitate to tell me when something isn’t working. I’ve had enough practice at this by now that I can recognize when to take a suggestion or ignore it. Either way, I get an idea of how effectively I’m telling a story. If it’s not being received the way I intend, I probably need to change something!

7) How many stories did you start writing before you found a "winner" and how did you know you'd found a keeper?
THROUGH TO YOU was the second full-length novel I finished. The first time I let myself believe it might be something special was the day my agent, Mary Kole, offered representation.

8) Do you have any new writing projects in the works? Can you tell us about them?
I do have a new writing project in the works, but I’m afraid it might only make sense inside my head right now…stay tuned!

9) What were the most difficult and best parts of writing THROUGH TO YOU?
I had never written from a boy’s perspective before, so I was very worried about that when I started THROUGH TO YOU. Honestly, I think that ended up being the best and most difficult part, though! When I really started to feel comfortable inside Cam’s head, I knew the story just might work...

10) What did you do to celebrate when you found out that you were getting signed by your agent and then later when you found out THROUGH TO YOU was going to be published?
My favorite way to celebrate is dining out with my husband. We’ve been eating out a lot more lately!

11) What did your friends and family think when you told them you were writing THROUGH TO YOU?
Writing has been a private pursuit for me until recently…I only told my very closest friends and family. Now that THROUGH TO YOU is going to be published, I’ve been doing a lot of explaining, but people have been pretty excited in general.

12) Now that you're a soon-to-be-published author and a more experienced writer, what advice would you give to your unpublished self?
READ MORE. I learned from every mistake I made, and I wouldn’t change a thing. But the best way to stay inspired while nurturing your own creativity is to read and appreciate the creative work of others.

13) How long did it take you to write THROUGH TO YOU from concept to outlining to completion to sending if off to agents?
I had the basic idea for THROUGH TO YOU knocking around in my head a while, but I started seriously developing it in October of 2009. I had a completed draft in August of 2010, revised for a couple of months, and sent my first query letters November 9, 2010. In sum, it was a little over a year from Day 1 of writing to accepting representation.

14) Can you briefly detail your journey to publication after finishing THROUGH TO YOU?
BRIEF would be the word! (And from what I’ve heard this is the exception in publishing, not the rule.) My fabulous agent, Mary Kole, offered representation on November 14, 2010. I worked on some light revisions to the manuscript in December, and she officially sent it on submission to publishers January 14, 2011. We received our first offer January 21st—one week later. Mary held an auction January 28th, and we accepted the offer from my editor, Alessandra Balzer with Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins, on February 1st, 2011.

15) What kind of atmosphere do you prefer to write in, calm or chaos?
Calm. I really wish I could write in coffee shops or with loud music playing, but I am too easily distracted. I prefer my quiet living room with noise-cancelling headphones and a sleeping dog or cat by my side.

16) What is your writing process like?
I have become much more organized recently, but I start with a general concept or idea, try to figure out who the characters are and what they want, make a general outline of the story, and write from there. I almost always stray from my original outline at some point, but you have to let the story go where it needs to. I wish I could write out of order sometimes, but so far I have always written scenes in order, from chapter one to the end.

17) The main character in THROUGH TO YOU is a teenage boy; what was it like being a female and writing from a male’s point of view? Any tips?
As I mentioned before, this was daunting! Obviously, I have never been a teenage boy, and I was afraid of coming off like an obvious fraud. I ran a lot of story pieces by my husband and listened to a slew of audiobooks with male protagonists while at work during the day. A few of Stephen King’s characters are unblushingly male…I think spending time with them helped the most, to be honest.

18) Do you have any odd and unusual habits which help you in regards to writing?
I’m not sure about odd or unusual, but when I’m looking for the answer to a problem or trying to crawl my way out of a plot hole, I like to exercise or take a shower. I’m not sure why the shower works, but exercise stimulates blood-flow to the brain, which can’t hurt when you’re looking for inspiration!

To find out more about Emily and her book, visit her website.

Thanks again Emily! I loved getting to know more about you and your wonderful book and I can't wait until it hits shelves! :)



E.H. Foster said...

Your hook line is wonderful! I look forward to reading your book and seeing where you take the theme of alternate realities/worlds! Thank you for sharing your writing experience and congrats on publication!!!

Anita Saxena said...

Congratulations on all the success! And I can't agree with you more-reading is definitely an important part of the writing process.

Carolyn said...

I can't wait to read this book! BTW - The shower thing is surprisingly universal. I submitted it as a tip to Casey's Literary Rambles, and it turns out I was not alone.

Kimberly Sabatini said...

Great interview-Emily is AWESOME and I can't wait to read it too!!!!

S. Mozer said...

Great interview. I can't wait to read this novel!

erinjade said...

Great interview! So true that publishing is a moving target. Well said.

Tiffany Schmidt said...

Nice interview, Em!

Emily Hainsworth said...

Thanks for all the great comments, everyone! And a HUGE thanks to Ella for inviting me!

@Carolyn, I have heard that from other writers before! Although I'd never heard the white noise theory. Interesting!

I hope everyone likes the book half as much as I loved writing it! :)