VAMPYRE KISSES is a great way to start this month that’s all about stories of the dead or the undead, those spirits who feast on the living. And look at her cover! Eye-catching, isn’t it? But wait! There’s super contest as well. Check it out here.
My first one is how do you pronounce your last name? It’s an intriguing set of consonants and vowels, but if I ever meet you in person I’ll mess it up.
It’s funny; I have only had a handful of people capable of pronouncing it correctly the first time around. Most of those people are Polish though, which is the origin of the name. It is pronounced, KO-LA-G. People ask why I didn’t use a pen name and I simply tell them, it is because I want people to learn how to pronounce it and spell it. That way I don’t have to go through the: K O L O D (as in David) Z (as in Zerbra) I E J (as in Jack). Hehe.
What drew you to writing about vampires?
I always explain to people that it is my mother’s fault and it really is. Because of her I grew up with vampires and the supernatural around me because she was interested in it. She watched Buffy, read Ann Rice, and even play The Masquerade. She is one of my greatest resources to go to when I am having a vampire dilemma.Since it was around me I grew to love it too and it just interested me to no end. There is so much controversy around the subject of vampires and their abilities and such. It really just felt natural to write about it. Like falling in love you don’t understand what it always is about that person but you are in love with them and no one else. Same thing goes for why I write about the supernatural.
Besides your book, do you have a favorite classic and/or a favorite contemporary vampire story?
It is so difficult to pick just one vampire story I love. It really depends on the time and what is around. At this moment, I have fallen for Jeaniene Frost’s books, which tell the story of Cat and Bones. The writing is phenomenal.But no, I don’t have just one favorite. I draw inspiration and get influenced by every story I read. Each one does something for me in a different way.
Every book is unique in some way, but there are thousands of vampire stories. How does your book stand out from the rest? What will the readers
Readers are actually finding that Vampyre Kisses is really different from the more popular books out there. Most of the uniqueness comes from the Greek Mythology mixed with Folklore and my own imagination. You get to actually see the gods in my book and hear them speak. Along with this, there is a great in depth history on vampires and how they came to be. Finally, I have included a witch, which (haha) is something not a lot of people include in a vampire story. I know Kim Harrison does but her world is very different from mine.
Tell us a bit about your MC. She sounds like an amazing character with a legacy of witchcraft and a quest to take on. If this is turned into a movie who would you select to play her? And how about Trent? In your trailer, he’s got the “eyes.”
When I think of Faith the first thing that comes to mind is how determined of a person she is. Even though she has her breaking points in the book she still manages to get to her feet and keep going. She is more intelligent than some female leads but it does take her a little while to understand everything clearly. But to me that just says that she likes to know all the perspectives and understand the situation perfectly before coming up with a solution. Faith is a loving and caring woman who would do just about anything for anyone.Trent is a vampire I really love; mostly because he really loves being a vampire and drinking blood. I personally get tired of reading about vampires who hate being vampires and such. I always think, ok go stand out in the sun and die then if it’s THAT bad. But Trent is a vampire that is extremely protective of Faith and would do anything to save her. Sometimes he feels like she doesn’t need him though because she is showing that she can do so much on her own. Trent will learn that she does need him, more than he realizes.If Vampyre Kisses were turned into a movie I would actually want “no-bodies” to play the parts. It is really difficult for me to see Faith and Trent and so far no one in Hollywood has struck me. I think it would be hard for me to pick out my characters because I am so attached to them and see them as something unique.
Indie-Debut 2010 is a group of debut children’s authors who’ve joined together to spread the word about their books, all of which hail from small presses. At a time when the book world continues to struggle economically, there are many small publishers redefining the business. Business Week reports, “Without the marketing muscle or resources of the large houses, small publishers have innovated in order to successfully bring their authors to market.” The idea of Indie-Debut 2010 was to form a group to exercise that “marketing muscle” together, combining efforts and sharing resources and experiences.
Indie-Debut 2010 books are being published by a spectrum of small presses from across America and range from picture books to middle grade to young adult. Five Indie Debut authors are featured here:
This is a long post, but oh so worth it!
THEIR BOOKS, THEIR ADVICE, THEIR SWAG!!!
Lori’s The Bug That Plagued the Entire Third Grade
Available at Amazon
Lori Calabrese is an award-winning children’s author. Her first picture book, The Bug That Plagued the Entire Third Grade, was named Dragonfly Publishing Inc.’s 2009 Best Children’s Book. She writes for various children’s magazines, is the National Children’s Books Examiner at Examiner.com, and enjoys sharing her passion for children’s books at festivals, schools and events. Visit her WEBSITE to learn more.
Danika’s fantasy adventure Brigitta of the White Forest
en theos press
Available at Amazon.
Danika Dinsmore has been working and playing with children in a variety of settings for eighteen years. She co-created Washington State’s first youth poetry slam and developed a curriculum guide for teaching poetry. She also produced the Seattle Poetry Festival’s Emerging Voice spokenword program for teens. She has worked as an artist-in-the-schools for Learning Through the Arts and teaches writing courses at Vancouver Film School, Capilano University, and Creative Writing for Children. Brigitta of the White Forest is her first novel, adapted from her original feature screenplay of the same name.
Donna’s The Golden Pathway
Guardian Angel Publishing
Donna McDine is an award-winning children’s author, Honorable Mention in the 77th and two Honorable Mentions in the 78th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competitions. Donna’s stories have been published in many print and online publications, and her first book, The Golden Pathway, will be published through Guardian Angel Publishing as well as her second book, The Hockey Agony. Ms. McDine is a member of the SCBWI, Musing Our Children, and The National Writing for Children Center. Sign the GUESTBOOK ON HER WEBSITE and you’ll receive a FREE e-Book Write What Inspires You.
Jupiter Gardens, Publisher
Jo Ramsey is a former teacher and current “paperwork person” who has been writing since age five. She has many manuscripts for teenagers sitting in a filing cabinet, and hopes to someday see them published. Connection is Jo’s first published YA novel, and books 2 and 3 in the series will be released in October 2010 and March 2011 respectively. She also writes romance under a pen name. Jo lives in Massachusetts with her two daughters, her amazingly supportive husband, and two cats, one of whom occasionally tries to help her write.
A Wish and a Prayer on Amazon
Beth Bence Reinke is an author and registered dietitian from Pennsylvania. In addition to children’s books, she writes magazine articles about food and nutrition. Beth loves to read and runs the library at her church. For fun, she enjoys watching NASCAR races and football games. You can visit her at her WEBSITE.
What’s the most memorable thing about your journey to publication?
Lori: The most memorable thing about my journey to publication is when my editor, Pat Gaines, called me to say my book had been awarded DFP’s 2009 Best Children’s Book Award. Needless to say, it was very rewarding!
Danika: I think it was working with my focus group of young readers at Puget Sound Community School before the final edit of the book. To sit with the kids and discuss the book was surreal. The fact that they really enjoyed it made all the hard work worthwhile.
Donna: The day my daughters’ chimed in unison, “Our mom is a children’s author.” With their quick interjection of the same exact words you would have thought they rehearsed this. To get recognition by my two daughters’ in such a manner and learning they see me much more than “just their mom” makes me walk lighter and beam with delight. So yes, this is my most memorable moment to date.
Jo: The most memorable thing would be the day I got the “Yes, I love this book and I want to publish it” from Jupiter Gardens.
Beth: It has been a joy to see my books come to life through the illustrations of Ginger Nielson – she does beautiful work. Ginger also made promotional pages and trailers for In My Bath and A Wish and a Prayer.
What was the most challenging?
Lori: I think the most challenging thing about my journey to publication was the editing process and making sure that The Bug That Plagued the Entire Third Grade turned out to be the best book it could be.
Danika: Having patience during the pre-publication process. The launch was postponed once and it was sheer torture. Although, I only had to wait about a year for publication. I know authors who wait 2 or more. Going over the manuscript again and again with the copy editor was tedious, but in the end, well worth it!
Donna: To write first thing in the morning before checking email, laundry, dishes, etc. I’ve been doing this for a while now and it has become a great habit. Now that we are on summer vacation, I’ve been getting up earlier than the girls to get my writing/marketing in for the day.
Jo: Revising Connection to meet the publisher’s standards. The story was good, but there were things that needed to be fixed and things that she wanted changed, and some days I felt like I’d wind up bald from pulling my hair out over her suggestions. In the long run, though, her requests made it a stronger story.
Beth: For me, the hardest thing has been learning to market my books. As writers, we’re not trained in promotion, so we have to learn on the fly – by reading articles, networking with other authors and through trial-and-error.
Anything amusing / funny happen along the way?
Lori: I don’t know if I’d call it funny, but I realized how buggy one’s eyes can get when you’re on the computer for so long!
Danika: After the book was published I taught an Imaginary Worlds class. One student borrowed a copy of my book and another student bought one. Two days later they were basically competing with their knowledge of Brigitta’s world and kept pointing things out that I didn’t even remember about the story.
Donna: While conducting a school visit at my fraternal twin sister’s school she introduced me as her twin sister the children’s author and the students jaws dropped. They started hollering saying no way, you look absolutely nothing alike. Prove it. They wouldn’t take answering the same questions privately stating we probably set them up. So we had to call our mother and put her on the speaker phone. They then believed us.
Jo: Nothing funny happened on the way to publication. However, now that I am published, Connection was put on my town high school’s required summer reading list this year. All 550 students have to read it. I’ve had a running, rather humorous debate with one of those students for the past few months, because she claims she shouldn’t have to read it. Of course, she’s my daughter…so she’s already read it.
What’s something you suggest debut authors should avoid?
Lori: Writers should avoid the fear of rejection. It’s part of the game, every writer deals with it, and the way I see, it, Hey, at least they’re getting back to you!
Danika: Getting published is a very humbling experience if you are an unknown author. After all your friends and family buy copies of your book, you have to convince complete strangers to purchase it! Try not to be hard on yourself. It’s a tough haul. There is really no such thing as an overnight success. Keep on putting yourself out there and stay positive. I always say, I’m selling one book at a time!
Donna: Don’t get wrapped up in comparing yourself to other writers. Just write and your true authenticate voice will spill from the pages.
Jo: I’d recommend people avoid any path to publication that seems too quick and easy. As I’ve often heard quoted, money should flow *to* the author; in other words, you should never have to pay to be published. If your stuff is good enough, a publisher will pay you. If
you’re getting rejections, then taking time to improve your craft and getting help from other authors is better than spending money just to be able to hold a book in your hands.
Beth: When you get an acceptance from a reputable small publisher, celebrate it! No matter what anyone else insinuates, don’t think your books are not as good because they don’t come from a “big” publisher. Small presses get lots of submissions and your book has to be good in order to make it out of their slush pile, too.
Includes books Brigitta of the White Forest and The Bug That Plagued the Entire Third Grade, a tote bag for The Golden Pathway, and magnets with cover art from Connection and its sequel Filtration System.
* Follow the Write Game if you haven’t already for 1 point.
* Tweet @1 point each Tweet. Be sure to tell us in your comment(s) when you Tweet so we can give you your point(s)
* Mention us on Facebook and tell us you did (1 point).
* Leave a pithy comment or two for 1 point each comment–there are 5 authors, so you can comment on each one if you like. They’d love to hear from you. Me too! Get the most points and WIN!
Debuting in 2011? There are already several authors slated to begin Indie Debut 2011! E-mail lori.calabrese AT yahoo DOT com to find out more information.
And the winner is . . . Daisy Hickman. Contact Kurtis and collect your prize. Congratulations.
I fell in love with MUDVILLE. It was quirky, warmhearted, and filled with brilliant moments between a father and his son. I was really pleased when KURTIS SCALETTA said he’d visit my blog and tell us more about himself and his next book. Welcome Kurtis and be sure to check out his contest below.
Mudville is about a small town where it’s been raining for 22 years, suspending a game between two rival towns indefinitely. The hero is Roy, a good kid who loves baseball but hasn’t been able to play at home his whole life. One day he comes home from camp and there’s a new kid there — a foster kid named Sturgis. It stops raining a few days later and they decide to get a team together and stage a rematch. Sturgis is an amazing pitcher but not much of a team player. Roy is a catcher and the team’s captain; he has to work with Sturgis as well as a bunch of other kids who’ve never played the game. Did I mention that the rival town isn’t even there any more? So you might say he has his work cut out for him.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Kurtis Scaletta is the author of two middle grade novels. One is about baseball, the other is about snakes. He has also written stories about bad poetry, onion soup, overdue library books, and Steve Miller cover bands: all the issues that young people grapple with.
Kurtis grew up in several states and a few foreign countries, including Liberia, the setting of his second novel. He now makes his home in Minneapolis with his wife and several cats. In addition to writing, he is an instructional technology consultant in higher education.
IF YOU HAD ADVICE FOR WRITERS WHAT WOULD IT BE?
My advice to writers is the same stuff they’ve seen everywhere else — join a critique group, work your way through a few drafts before you query, know the market well enough to place yourself in it, don’t take rejection personally, find a happy balance between prevailing against adversity and not taking a hint, don’t spam agents or editors with poorly written or poorly targeted queries, and don’t take publishing as the be-all end-all of writing. Write every day if you can, but don’t be afraid to take a few days off if you’ve been writing a lot and need a break. Spend some time at the library, just to remember the childlike joy of knowing that there are so many different kinds of books and any one of them might open a new world to you.
WHO WERE YOUR FAVORITE WRITERS WHEN YOU WERE GROWING UP?
My favorite writers as a kid were Daniel Pinkwater and Betsy Byars. The representative books by each other for me are Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy from Mars by Pinkwater and The Midnight Fox by Byars. I was an avid reader before I discovered them, but those were the kinds of books that convinced me I wanted to do this myself, that it was my calling. Maybe that’s surprising because neither ever wrote a baseball book, I don’t think — and I never read Matt Christopher or John Tunis. I write for middle-grade aged readers because that was my favorite time as a reader.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR SECOND BOOK THAT’S ALREADY OUT!
My second book is Mamba Point. It’s about a kid who moves to Monrovia, Liberia from the Midwest– just like I did — and from the moment he gets there he keeps coming across black mambas. They’re very deadly snakes, and he can’t seem to avoid them. He’s an anxious kid anyway so this sets him back a bit. He realizes he might have a connection to the snake and kind of befriends one, even keeping it in his room. He starts to feel bolder, which he needs, but the boldness gets him into some trouble. So it’s a boy and his snake story set in Africa, and it’s also about a kid dealing with growing pains and culture shock at the same time.
My third book is currently untitled, even though it’s in the second round of edits and will be out from Knopf next fall (knock on wood). It’s about this little town in Maine that’s being taken over by a giant glowing fungus. Giant glowing fungi are real — they can live thousands of years and spread around for miles and burrow deep into the ground. They are really creepy and fascinating. Anyway, there’s a kid named Eric who finds this thing sprawling out around the woods outside his home at the same time a lot of other stuff is going haywire in his life. He meets a teen runaway named Mandy who says the fungus is even worse than he imagines, that it’s likely to destroy the town. So they set out to do something about it.
I’m reluctant to share any passages before they are finalized, but there are two in this book that I am really proud of. One is a harrowing scene involving a pig. The other is a football game on a field covered with mushrooms.
IT LOOKS LIKE WE ARE ALL IN FOR SOME GREAT ACTION SCENES.
NOW READERS HERE’S YOUR CHANCE TO WIN ANOTHER DEBUT AUTHOR CONTEST: LEAVE A COMMENT ABOUT YOUR FAVORITE THING TO DO ON A RAINY DAY. KURTIS WILL CHOOSE THE BEST COMMENT AND GIVE AWAY A FREE CRITIQUE FOR YOUR QUERY LETTER OR YOUR FIRST CHAPTER.
AND THE WINNER IS . . . THEACCIDENTALNOVELIST. EMAIL ME AND I’LL BE SENDING YOU A SIGNED/UNSIGNED COPY OF SLIDING ON THE EDGE.
I’m not supposed to be here this week, but one of my debut people had to postpone and I didn’t want to contact all the rest to reschedule, so since I’m still technically a debut novelist I thought I’d pop in and take this slot. Besides I had some business to take care of, so here’s the business first and ABOUT DEBUT ME next.
First, Carla Mooney has announced the winner of a signed copy of Owen and His Dragon. Sooooo, Julie Musil contact Carla through her website and give her your mailing address. Congratulations!
A native Californian I grew up in a lot of different places; then landed in some beautiful coastal mountains where I live with my family and miscellaneous pets—usually strays that find me rather than the other way around. I write a lot these days, garden in the spring and summer, hike and do yoga. I love to travel, but find being at home really wonderful. My favorite destinations are Turkey and Nicaragua, but because I have family in England, Switzerland, and Spain I love going there as well.
I used to be a lecturer and administrator at California State University, San Jose. My field of Linguistics and Inter-cultural Communication has carried me to a lot of places in the world to explore different cultures and languages. I hate to brag, but I can say, “Where’s the toilet?” and “I’m lost!” in at least five languages and two dialects.
In my books I take on issues that today’s teens face in their daily lives. In SLIDING ON THE EDGE I tackled cutting and suicide. In my next book, THE PRINCESS OF LAS PULGAS, that’s due out in fall of this year I write about people who lose everything and must rebuild their lives. I just finished a first draft of a third YA novel that deals with juvenile neglect and Alzheimers.
I’m told my stories are “gritty,” but not dark. I hope not. My main theme in all of my writing is that there is hope and there is a possibility for all of us to surmount the most difficult challenges. According to astrophysicists we are made of stardust, so it’s my premise that we can shine even in the darkest space.
The advice to writers who want to publish is always the same: write what you love or feel strongly about, don’t give up, get a good critique group, pay attention to the rules of submission.
Here’s more that I feel are important: develop a sense for when you should move on to another project, learn when to write “The End” so the story doesn’t drag on after it should, play fair and be kind.
SO ARE YOU UP FOR WINNING A SIGNED OR UNSIGNED COPY OF SLIDING ON THE EDGE? I have one right here on my desk that needs a home. Write me something about surmounting a difficult challenge, what it was, how you did it, what you learned by doing it.
I look forward to reading your comments and hope you’ll join me on Twitter @cleemckenzie and Facebook.
I’m such a sucker for dragons, and CARLA MOONEY has certainly given us one super dragon, hasn’t she?
Carla is the author of more than 20 books for kids and teens, but OWEN AND THE DRAGON is her first fiction trade book and, therefore, officially her debut book.
The books she’s written for the educational market include: AMAZING AFRICA PROJECTS YOU CAN BUILD YOURSELF, and the upcoming SAMSON”S STORY (Fall 2010) AND GREAT GEORGE WASHINGTON PROJECTS YOU CAN BUILD YOURSELF (November 2010). As long as she can remember, she has been in love with reading and writing. She is thrilled to create adventures and explore new worlds in each of her books and hopes that readers enjoy the journey as much as she has. Carla lives near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with her husband and three children. When not reading and writing, Carla volunteers as the Pittsburgh Chapter Director for Flashes of Hope, a nonprofit organization that photographs children with cancer and other life-threatening conditions. Be sure to visit Carla at her WEBSITE to find out more about her and her work.
About Owen and the Dragon
Owen is a ten-year old boy who has just moved to a new town and left behind his best friend and everything familiar to him. Unable to face unpacking his room, Owen decides to explore the woods behind his new home. He is stunned to discover a dragon named Phineas. Owen soon gains the dragon’s trust and learns that Phineas has lost the ability to fly. As he struggles to find a way for the dragon to return home, Owen learns friendship can be found in unexpected places.
I’m always curious and ask writers about the book(s) that inspired them as young readers and encouraged them to read and perhaps later led them into writing in their genre. Can you share what book or books did that for you?
I loved all different types of books as a young reader but some of my favorites included the Anne of Green Gables and Emily of New Moon series, Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie mysteries, and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I can remember going every Thursday night to our local library and spending hours browsing through book after book, until I found just the right one to take home.
Are you working on another or other books? If so, can you give us a peek at what you’re creating?
I have several projects in the works right now. Later this year, my first picture book, Samson’s Story, is scheduled to be released from a new independent publisher, Earth Day Publishing. I’ve heard that the illustrations have just been completed and I’m very excited to see them!
I’m also working on the final edits for a nonfiction book about George Washington from Nomad Press that will be coming out in November 2010. It was engrossing to work on that one – I loved all the new details I learned about Washington, that I never learned in school. He truly was a great man, one that we as a nation were very lucky to have in the right place at the right time.
What’s the best advice you have for writers?
The best advice I can give is to believe in yourself and your story. Never stop trying to make yourself a better writer through practice, critiquing, classes, reading or whatever works for you.
. . . And now the CONTEST!
Carla has been so generous to offer a signed copy of Owen and the Dragon. Here’s all you have to do to win. Leave a comment telling what type of mythical creature you would like to discover behind your home just like Owen discovered Phineas.
Be sure to check out Carla Mooney’s Facebook or follow her Tweets @carlawrites to stay current with this author.
Isn’t this an eye-catching cover? And here’s Mindi Scott our Debut author of the week. She’s offering some super swag for the best comment, so be sure to check out her contest below.
Welcome, Mindi and tell us about your novel, FREEFALL.
Seth McCoy was the last person to see his best friend Isaac alive, and the first to find him dead. It was just another night, just another party, just another time where Isaac drank too much and passed out on the lawn. Only this time, Isaac didn’t wake up.
Convinced that his own actions led to his friend’s death, Seth is torn between turning his life around . . . or losing himself completely.
Then he meets Rosetta: so beautiful and so different from everything and everyone he’s ever known. But Rosetta has secrets of her own, and Seth will soon realize he isn’t the only one who needs saving . . .
The book sounds intriguing, Mindi. How did you start writing for young readers?
Almost everything I’ve ever written would be classified as “Young Adult.” In 2004, when I decided that a big focus in my life would be writing and trying to get published, it just felt like the obvious and best fit. One of my writing instructors that year told me, “The YA market is really hot right now!”
I was like, “Oh, is it? Well, that’s cool.”
Which, of course, it is cool. But it had nothing whatsoever to do with my decision. I’m just lucky that what I love to write happens to be in a market that’s selling!
Is there anything you’ve learned in writing this story, selling it, seeing it published that you’ll share and perhaps help aspiring writers reach their goal of publication? (Some things to do or avoid or surprises, good and not so good, that you can share?)
I’ve always been told that my writing has that mystical thing called “voice.” Looking back, though, I think I used to rely too much on my own voice and point of view when writing female narrators. In Freefall, my protagonist is a sixteen-year-old guy, and writing him really forced me to stretch. I could never take the easy way out—not for one page, one paragraph, one sentence, one word. Everything had to be about how Seth would see it/think it/say it, otherwise the slip in voice was obvious and jarring. I feel that writing him flipped a switch for me and has permanently changed my approach to voice and point of view for all of my characters moving forward.
Now, I don’t think that the answer for everyone is to write a different gender or anything like that! But I do think that finding ways to challenge yourself in your writing can help you improve your craft in unexpected ways and make your work stand out. 🙂
I could hardly wait for NAHEED HASNET to be here. Her book sounds fabulous and when I read her bio I knew you’d find her incredibly interesting. (Be sure to check out her advice and the contest below.)
Welcome, Naheed. It’s great to finally learn more about you and your debut novel SHOOTING KABUL, which I can’t wait to read.
Here’s a bit about our featured debut novelist.
N.H. Senzai grew up speaking two languages, balancing a life lived on the edge of two cultures. She got on a plane for the first time at two months in Chicago, where she was born, and has been travelling ever since. She grew up in San Francisco, Jubail, Saudi Arabia, and attended boarding school in London, England where she was voted “most likely to lead a literary revolution” due to her ability to get away with reading comic books in class. She’s hiked across the Alps, road-tripped through Mexico, swum with barracudas in the Red Sea, taken a train across the Soviet Union, floated down the Nile, and sat in contemplation at the Taj Mahal. Somewhere along the way she attended UC Berkeley and Columbia University and has landed back home in San Francisco where she lives with her husband, a professor of political science, son, and a cat who owns them. During the day she can be found working for a consulting firm that helps companies with their inventions and patents.
AND HERE’S THE BOOK. Fadi never imagined he’d start middle school in Fremont, California, thousands of miles away from home in Kabul. But, here he was, half a world apart from his missing six year old sister who’d been lost because of him, as they’d fled Afghanistan. Adjusting to life in the United States isn’t easy for Fadi’s family and as the events of September 11th unfold, the prospects of locating Mariam in a war torn Afghanistan seem slim — impossible. Desperate, Fadi tries every hare-brained scheme he can think of to find her. When a photography competition with a grand prize trip to India is announced, Fadi sees his chance to return to Afghanistan and find his sister. But can one photo really bring Mariam home?
Based in part on Ms. Senzai’s husband’s experience fleeing Soviet controlled Afghanistan in 1979, Shooting Kabul is a powerful story of hope, love, and perseverance.
How did you come to write Shooting Kabul?
I wrote in my author’s note that I didn’t want to write SHOOTING KABUL, really, I didn’t. I resisted writing it for many years because it deals with many sensitive and personal issues— 9/11, Islam, the Taliban, Afghan culture and politics, coupled with my husband’s family history and escape from Kabul. For thousands of years, Afghanistan has been a battleground for outsiders. Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan came with their armies, as did the British and the Soviets. All attempted to conquer and occupy, yet failed. There are lessons to be learned as the United States currently contemplates its role in this war-torn country. It is a land still ravaged by war and ethnic tensions, but despite these facts, Afghans remain a strong and proud people.
But, at the urging of my agent, I decided to take the plunge – I felt that I had an interesting story to share, coupled with the opportunity to introduce readers to a new world. So, as I began to write, I made sure that I relayed these subjects with as much accuracy as I could since there is tremendous complexity in explaining things like terrorism, Afghan culture, Islamic practices etc. and I wanted to do it in a nuanced, truthful way that could be understood by young and old alike. It is my hope that the reader, having walked in my protagonist, Fadi’s, shoes, they learn that Fadi and his family are similar to their own; that their hopes, dreams and desires mirror theirs.
Is there anything you’ve learned in writing this story, selling it, seeing it published that you’ll share and perhaps help aspiring writers reach their goal of publication? (Some things to do or avoid or surprises, good and not so good, that you can share?)
I really feel that writers should dig within themselves and write what they know, from their unique perspective. An easy trap some writers fall into is following trends – who hasn’t seen the tremendous success of vampire books and its multiple spin offs? Instead of following, you should think outside the proverbial box and create a unique tale that only you can tell, based on your personal experiences. I was able to write SHOOTING KABUL because I have first-hand knowledge into the Afghan community and feel honored to share some of their experiences. Once I set my mind to write it, I wrote SHOOTING KABUL in short period of time – about six months. Because I feel that it relays an “authentic” voice, the book got noticed by a few different publishing houses and my agent, Michael Bourret @Dystel & Goderich sold it at auction. We decided to go with the talented Alexandra Penfold at Simon & Schuster and my editorial journey was truly collaborative. Alexandra pulled the best out of me, while allowing space to maintain my voice and keep the book’s integrity. So I would say, be true to yourself and share your unique story in a way that only you can!
There’s not much better advice than that, writers.
CONTEST: IN YOUR COMMENT TELL US ABOUT ANYTHING YOU’VE EITHER RESISTED WRITING ABOUT OR CAN’T WAIT TO WRITE ABOUT. THE MORE EXOTIC, ROMANTIC, SCARY, FUNNY, HEARTWARMING IT IS, THE MORE LIKELY YOU ARE TO WIN A SIGNED ARC OF SHOOTING KABUL.
Wow, ladies (and gentleman), I can’t possibly pick between your amazing stories. I will have to let Lady Luck decide for me (my oldest son is in possession of an eight-sided-dice)! Thank you all for sharing and to C. Lee for hosting and asking such a wonderful question!
And the winner is … Ann Best!
Ann, I will email you shortly to get your physical address. Thanks again!
Susan and I met over at YALitChat and have been sharing some emails and discussions. Her book caught my attention and her debutness qualified her for this series. Check out how to win her book below.
I don’t have to sneak my notes anymore, which is too bad. I write from the Chicago suburbs with my three boys, two cats, and one husband. Which, it turns out, is exactly as a much as I can handle.
Next week Carla Mooney will join us to talk about her book and share her debut experience.