Last year, I did an interview with PJ for her book THE EMERALD TABLET. Her answers were so good that I thought I'd rerun it today--and give you all a chance to think of some more questions to ask PJ in her interview with YOU tomorrow!
Without further ado...
We can all read about your bio from the back of your book or your FAQ online. So, what's a completely random fact about you that most people don't know?
In college I used to tell people my name was Athena. And the best part? They believed me! I even had license plates on my red Jeep Wrangler with “Athena J” on them.
Your plane crashed on a deserted island, and Sawyer wasn't on it. You only have one book to entertain yourself with until the rescue comes—if it ever comes. What book do you wish you had with you on the island?
Hmmm…I’d want to make sure either it was the longest book in the world or one I could read over and over. Of the latter, I’ve already read them over and over, so I’ll go with the former and pick Crime & Punishment because: (1) It’s super long; (2) I’ve heard it’s great; (3) I want to read it; and (4) I haven’t yet made the time.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
An engineer! Boring, I know. But I loved all things computers (and yes, they got big when I was in high school). I taught myself to program Basic on an old Commodore 64 between games of Q*bert and Castle Wolfenstein.
In college, I did hit a slump senior year and decided I wanted to be an archaeologist. I stuck around for a fifth undergraduate year and got a history degree, but then decided engineering would pay way better so I went on to graduate school for Electrical Engineering.
How much of you is in your book? Is there a character like you? Is a situation in the book derived from real life?
Way less then was in the first draft! When I first start writing, I put so much of myself into my book. Luckily, The Emerald Tablet has been through enough revisions that lots of that extra stuff was removed.
Heidi is my favorite character, and I like to think she’s the closest to being modeled after me. She can read minds. Her hair changes color when her emotions flare up. And she ends up having a big crush on…oh, wait, that will come in Book 3.
What was your timeline in The Emerald Tablet? How long did it take to write, revise, submit, and finally, get published? How did you feel at these stages?
First draft – about three months.
Initial revisions – another six months.
At this stage, I thought it was perfect. Yikes! But the good thing is I went ahead and started on Book Two.
About six months later, I met an editor at a conference who offered to read The Emerald Tablet and give me some feedback. Yeah, she was really nice. Her suggestions were eye opening, and I devoured them, jumping back into revisions with a passion.
When I finished, I sent it back, and she read it again and offered more feedback. This went on a few more times, until one day she offered to buy the trilogy!
So to summarize, I started writing The Emerald Tablet in December 2004, signed a contract in February 2007, and hit publication October 2008.
If your reader could only take away one emotion, theme, or idea from The Emerald Tablet, what would you want that to be?
To know that even if you’ve been given talents in life, that’s not enough. You need to make the effort to go above and beyond those talents and see what you can really accomplish.
To phrase it better—Don’t rest on your laurels.
What are your goals as an author? Where do you want to see yourself as a writer in 5, 10, 15 years?
I’d love to have a new book out each year. I want to always keep writing, continuously strive to improve, continuously feel like I am improving, and meet wonderful people. Oh yeah, and live is a giant mansion. And having a theme park after one of my series wouldn’t be too bad either.
What's the most surprising thing you've learned since becoming a writer?
How much I truly love every aspect of it. I love first drafts. I love revisions. I love designing bookmarks in Photoshop. I love sending emails to potential reviewers. I love happy hours with the writing community.
And the list could only go on.
Beyond the typical—never give up, believe in yourself—what would be the single best advice you'd like to give to an aspiring author?
Never give up!
Oh wait, you said beside that.
Do not be afraid to get feedback. Be willing to revise. Take time between revisions. There is no perfect book, and every author can use feedback!
And take yourself seriously.
OK, that was more than one thing! So how about—don’t be afraid to break the rules now and then.
Thanks for the interview, PJ!