Wednesday, September 8, 2010
1. When does Love Drugged come out and where can we buy it? Where can our readers find you on the web?
The official publication date for Love Drugged is September 1, 2010, and it’s available in bookstores and online. You can find out more by visiting my website, www.jamesklise.com and by becoming a fan of “James Klise” on Facebook. (My fan count is a humiliation!)
2. How old were you when you knew you wanted to be a writer?
I began college fully intending to major in Architecture. But sophomore year I took a creative writing class, and that changed everything. The teacher pulled me aside and said, “Hey, just FYI, you are good at this.” I admired this teacher for a lot of reasons, and I really heard what she said. Nobody in the Architecture department had ever told me, “Wow, James, you clearly were put on this planet to design important buildings.” I took the lack of encouragement there as a sign to make the switch to English. Best of all, writing fiction hardly ever involves a measuring tape.
3. Where is your favorite place to write?
My favorite place to write, bar none, is in a hotel room. I am devoted to Priceline.com! A few times each year, I’ll treat myself to a “writing retreat,” when I can get a lot of progress done. It’s when I can begin something or finish something. I have a routine worked out. I bring a grocery bag filled with apples, trail mix, peanut butter. And for mid-afternoon writing breaks, I go for a swim. Can’t do that at home!
It’s actually quite difficult for most writers I know to get their best work done at home, because of all the distractions. And traditional writing conferences are more useful for work-shopping drafts and networking. So for me, hotel rooms have been an essential way to start and finish a project.
4. Why did you choose to write YA fiction?
This is such an interesting question. Do we really choose what to write, or does the material choose us? I wrote short stories for many years, and I still do. I started writing YA when I began working as a YA librarian. The rich material was in front of my face all day, and it crowded my subconscious. One thing I have found is, there’s very little difference between writing “for grown-ups” and writing YA. The process is the same—the commitment to sitting down, finding the quiet, and crafting one surprising scene after another. The challenge of creating unique characters in compelling situations. It’s all the same, no matter what audience we write for.
5. What was your path to getting published?
Selling the book without an agent was a combination of luck and lots of research. My day job means that I’m surrounded by terrific YA books. I read them all the time and love discussing them with students. While I was working on my book, I made a “wish list” of editors whose past projects I admired. It also helped, maybe, that I’d published a handful of short stories in literary journals. Those credits may have grabbed the attention of some editors. I was sending to the slush piles, but I’d worked hard to make the manuscript as strong as possible, and I always had confidence in the marketability of the project. After it sold, I mostly felt lucky. I still feel that way. It’s such a long process. For most writers, it’s filled with close calls and heartbreaks. Honestly, I don’t recommend going without an agent. I sure see the appeal of being able to focus on the writing part, not the selling part.
My best advice? Keep moving forward. Work on all different kinds of projects. The week you submit your first novel is the week you should begin writing a new one. I think it’s helpful to aspiring writers to focus on the big picture of a career and avoid the common pitfall of getting stuck on a book that’s not selling.