So, back in December, I asked you guys to ask me questions for me to answer. And I didn't forget about it--I mean, not really. Anyway, a month later: here's the answers!
Also: at first I didn't think this would take that long, but then when I was answering them, I realized this was a realllly long post, so I've got this divided up into three days. Also, also: I lost some stuff when I was cutting and pasting...I think I got all the questions again, but let me know if I missed one.
ACROSS THE UNIVERSE
Susan Kaye Quinn asked Did you know #9 was THE ONE before you sent it out, or did you think each one was the one...until it wasn't?
Actually, AtU was #11 for me--the eleventh full-length manuscript I'd written. Did I know it was THE ONE? Honestly, I thought every single manuscript I'd written, all the other ten, were THE ONE. As I wrote them, as I queried them, I thought each one was the one. That's what kept me going. I always thought the one I was working on was the one.
That said: when I finished AtU, I also knew I couldn't do better than that.
Didn't plan anything out really, and I didn't do much in the way of going back to add in hints--I like to add in lots of detail as I write, often without really knowing its relevance, then when I get to plot twist, I pull on those details that are already there.
There was no actual scene inspired by anything, at least not anything specific enough for me to pin down. But I did consciously based Eldest on the Operative in SERENITY--his philosophy that was he's doing is absolutely right in the given situation is the same philosophy I ascribed to Eldest.
YES. I thought I had a pretty good idea for AtU as I was writing it, and constantly worried that I wasn't writing it well enough. But I didn't want to give up until just before I started querying it. That's when I worried that I'd not done a good enough job, and part of me wanted to give up rather than fail again. I'm glad I didn't.
The idea that truth is important.
YES. I had at least three agents reject me specifically because "space sci fi is out." When I started querying, I was very worried that it wouldn't sell because there really wasn't that much true YA sci fi out there. But, like you, I've heard it's making a comeback. Hope that's true!
The only character I'd really picked out was Molly Quinn, who I think would make a great Amy.
Susan Kaye Quinn asked Are you going to even be able to sleep during that awesome tour? And why the heck aren't you coming to Chicago??
Sleep, schmleep. As for why I'm not coming to Chicago: I'm touring with four other authors, and they basically picked one city for each of us, a city close to our homes. (Mine is Raleigh.)
That publishers are not some big, evil, cackling Mr. Burns-like character. Publishers really DO want to publish quality literature, editors really DO edit, and agents really ARE looking for good writers to represent. Sometimes, when the rejections pile up, you start to question the system, the publishers, it all looks like a conspiracy against YOU. But it's not. Also: publishers, editors, and agents are real PEOPLE. We often forget that. But it's true.
Two. One rough draft, one re-write, and several polishings between. But I do think there's a difference between a completely rewritten draft, and a revision on an already present draft. I revised more than I rewrote AtU. As for Book 2--I rewrote more than I revised.