Which is why I'm thrilled that her book's about to come out! Elana is the author of the dystopian POSSESSION, and today I've cornered her with some questions about her book, her writing, and more!
We can read all about your fascinating life from the bio in the jacket flap of your book or on your webpage. So, what's a completely random fact about you that most people don't know?
I am scared of all animals that have more legs than I do, all ducks and geese, every species of snake, and some hummingbirds.
As a kid, what was your favorite book? Have your tastes changed since growing up?
My favorite reads were The Babysitter’s Club series. I’d like to think I’ve matured since then, though I still don’t read grown-up novels.
POSSESSION is a dystopian novel—could you tell us a little bit about why the genre appealed to you?
Dystopia blows my mind, because it’s possibilities are endless! If you can dream it, you can make it into a futuristic society. And I love that there’s a place for my twisted imagination to run wild.
It's the inevitable question: could you tell us a little about POSSESSION and what inspired it?
POSSESSION is an angry-girl novel set in the future, with some sweet tech gadgets and a sprinkling of paranormal abilities.
The novel was inspired by the question: “What would life look like without free will?” And, of course, the emotional angst I poured into it. There’s always that, too.
POSSESSION starts in medias res, throwing us right in the action. Can you give us a little more detail about what Vi's world is like and how it got that way?
Okay, I might have had to Google that. I actually think POSSESSION starts “slow.” Vi and her match, Zenn, are walking in the park. No explosions, no horse stampedes, no alien abductions. I wanted to give the reader a sense of her first, and her opinion on her society—because she’s not a fan from page one. (That’s something that’s a little different than most other dystopian novels.)
The reason Vi doesn’t like her world is because it’s not a very nice place to live. All citizens are required to clip-in to transmissions each night. They’re told who to marry, what jobs to have, what foods to eat, what clothes to wear. They’re brainwashed, devoid of personality and unable to make their own choices.
Thinkers do all the thinking, so regular people won’t have to. Our world evolved into the world in POSSESSION through paranormal means. I know, I know. I just can’t decide what I’m writing. Paranormal? Yes. Science fiction? Yes. Dystopian? Yes.
Hey, it’s a trifecta of awesome!
I'm going to be extraordinarily selfish and ask this question for me: did you always plan to end the novel in the way that you did?
MTV.com and Publisher’s Weekly asked me this in New York City, too.
The answer is yes, this is exactly how the novel has always ended. When I drafted it, and it came out this way, I sat back and thought, “Wow. That’s perfect.” And it’s been that way ever since. I’m just glad I found an agent and an editor who loved the ending as much as I did (because, believe me, I queried many an agent who didn’t).
Can you tell us a little bit about the process—particularly the timeline—of writing POSSESSION?
I’m a discovery writer, so I drafted POSSESSION in only 17 days in April of 2008. After that, I left it alone while I continued to draft my fingers off. See, at the time I didn’t particularly know how to get a book ready for publication. But I knew how to type.
So I wrote a lot of other books. Seven more, to be exact. It was now December 2008, and my first novel had failed mightily in the query trenches. So I was looking back over my other projects, trying to decide which one to fix up enough to query.
I chose POSSESSION. I revised and rewrote, and revised and rewrote. I sent it to betas. They seemed excited, and I got excited. I perfected my query and put on my bullet-proof vest. I started querying in late April 2009.
I got a lot of requests. But no one leapt out of their slippers to offer. I queried through the summer of 2009. I talked to three agents on the phone—they all wanted revisions. I did revisions two separate times, each time making the book stronger and stronger.
Finally, in November 2009, Michelle Andelman offered, and I accepted. After a couple more rounds of revision, we went out to editors in February 2010. The book sold very quickly, and I’ve been on the roller coaster of lifetime since then.
If your reader could only take away one emotion, theme, or idea from POSSESSION, what would you want it to be?
Oooh, brain bender. Whenever I read POSSESSION, I contemplate my own beliefs and why I believe the way I do. Am I making my own decisions? Or is someone else influencing me? If so, who?
What's the most surprising thing you've learned since becoming a writer?
I think the most surprising thing I’ve learned deals with the huge wide world of social media. I often think to myself that I would never be on twitter, or Facebook, or operate a blog if I wasn’t a writer. I wouldn’t even know those things exist. So it’s surprising that I like them as much as I do.
Beyond the typical—never give up, believe in yourself—what would be the single best advice you'd like to give another writer?
Allow yourself to write badly, so you can figure out how you write best.
What do you think are your strongest and weakest points in writing?
I think I’m pretty good at voice. My characters seem to have a mind of their own, and I just make sure it sounds right on the page.
I’m horrific at setting. It’s something I’m working on, and that my crit partners are always harping on me about.
Thanks for stopping by today, Elana!