Thursday, October 22, 2009

Rerun Thursday: PJ Hoover Interview for THE EMERALD TABLET

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.

Loved college!

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!


Unknown said...

I love this interview - I recently finished by first draft and have miles to go in revisions but it's been a fun process so far. I'll have to check out The Emerald Tablet.

PJ Hoover said...

It's fun to read the interview from a year ago. I wonder what I would answer differently now.

Unknown said...

...hey, now I'm wondering that, too! :)

Alix said...

Great interview. Good advice from PJ and the book sounds great, characters who hair change colour based on how there feeling! I want to see how that device gets used. Not easy to hide your emotions with that happening.

Sherrie Petersen said...

Great advice, PJ! I love that you were working with the editor before she even offered you the contract. Going above and beyond the talents you're given--that's my goal :)

Tamika: said...

This is my first time catching the interview, sounds like an intriguing book.

I love the advice- to take myself seriously!

You got it.

Kelly H-Y said...

Definitely worth the re-run!!! Thank you for re-posting!

Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks for the great interview. I asked for and got The Emerald Tablet for Mother's Day. I loved it and can't wait to read the sequel. Looking forward to the new interview.

PJ Hoover said...

Thank you for all the awesome comments, everyone! You guys have some great questions!

Rob:-] said...

Dear PJ,

Great stuff!

"Never give up! Never give up! Never give up!"
Who said that first? Some paleolithic shaman I'd guess.

I feel inspired! I just turned sixty and am feeling the urge to write building up inside. But I feel fear too. I write okay but have zip for discipline.

"Feel the fear and do it anyway." Who said that first?

I'm going to check out your books. I can hardly wait to see the movie.

Peace, Love, Laughter,


p.s. "I have an appointment with my paleontologist at 4 o'clock. How about 2:30 tomorrow?" I've had the craving to write this line in a story where it made sense. Do you have lines you've always wanted to write like that? rs

PJ Hoover said...

Very funny, Rob! But you are so right. Nothing is new. People have been people forever. Thanks for the awesome comment.
And yes, I totally have lines like that. Sometimes they inspire a whole book and then get cut. Isn't that bizarre?