Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Answers, Part 2: AtU and Publishing

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.


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. 

Emy Shin asked: Across the Universe is part-mystery with huge twists -- did you plan everything out before writing? Or did you go back and add in hints/etc. later?

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.

Magan asked: Was there any movie, TV show, or song that just inspired a pivotal scene in ATU? Without giving away spoilers can you say what that would be and how it helped for that scene?

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.

susancolebank asked: Did you ever want to give up on this story, thinking there was no way you could write it as well as it should be written?

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.

Gabrielle Carolina asked: What do you hope your readers will gain from AtU?

The idea that truth is important.

Abby Minard asked: When you started querying Across the Universe, were you told that Sci Fi is "out"? (Because I've heard that from some people, but now I've heard it's making a comeback)

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!

Anonymous asked: If ATU was a movie who would YOU want to play the characters in your book?

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.)

DJ's Life in Fiction asked: What have you learned about the publishing industry that you think aspiring authors should know?

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.

Amber Cuadra asked: How many drafts did you go through before you thought your book was ready to send to an agent?

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.


Matthew MacNish said...

I love this. Especially the part about truth.

The part about number 11 is a little sad, but I suppose it says a lot about the subjectivity of the industry, and how we should never give up. Which is a little more uplifting.

Katie Anderson said...

Wow. I loved this. Now I need to read part 1 :)

Magan said...

So you're telling me I need more "research" and to watch science fiction television shows? (Just agree, so I can tell my husband a NYT best selling author told me so).

Bish Denham said...

Love this Beth! Thanks for sharing your journey.

lotusgirl said...

Thanks for being so open and sharing your journey. It's kind of cool that your 11th novel was released on 1-11-11. Raleigh's not that far. Maybe I can come for that stop in your tour, too. I have another copy of your book you could sign. (It's my pre-ordered one through Amazon that didn't come before the launch party.)

Eric said...

Thanks for sharing, Beth. This is really cool. And I'm so glad you didn't give up on AtU when people were hinting that space Sci-Fi was dead, so to speak.

Jessica E. Subject said...

Thanks for answering the questions. Very inspirational as an aspiring author.

I hope sci-fi is making a come back as well.

Molly Quinn would make a wonderful Amy! Great choice!

Emily said...

Thank you for taking the time to answer questions like this and share with us part of your journey. It's very inspiring.

I'm happy to hear the Sci-Fi is coming back!

Shari said...

I am planning to attend the signing when you are in Salt Lake. Looking forward to meeting you then. Congratulations on all of your success!

JEM said...

These are really helpful. I'm writing a historical YA-ish book right now and I sometimes worry that no one will want to read it or care about it. It's nice to hear that you went through the same concerns and yet you've achieved such greatness :). Thanks for sharing!

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Thanks for answering my questions! :) And I'll miss you on this tour, but maybe for AtU2??

And I think (hope?) that you are blazing a trail for more SF YA! :)

Borders Capitola said...

I must tell you how excited I was to see the confirmation of what I suspected about Eldest's philosophy. (Also, the mention of Harley's girlfriend on pg. 260 couldn't be anything other than a reference to Firefly...)
I have yet to finish the book - will be starting chapter 56 after work tonight (= - but I'm definitely suggesting ATU as the store's book club pick for February.
Thanks for this amazing story!
PS - Molly Quinn would be AWESOME.

Beth S. said...

awesome questions! Thanks for answering them!

Anonymous said...


Abby Minard said...

Thanks for answering my question. You know its totally you that is sparking the "come back" of YA sci fi :)

Christina said...

I love these interview type posts! Esp. on how AtU was written/published!

Shannon said...

Thanks for this post, Beth. I loved learning more about your process and experience. So very cool.

Sophia Chang said...

Yes! That is nearly verbatim what I said about writing - even when it's hard, I love it. There's very little else in the world I could say that about.

And...since I have no funds to buy books right now, it is with great pleasure that I tell you I got AtU in a contest - reading it right now! I also credited you for some great networking and general sweetness. :)