A couple unpublished novels and a book deal by the time you’re 26 seems like a dream to most writers. Often it takes many of much longer to get up the courage to submit our work. But Whitney Lyles is different. She gave it her best effort and has continued to progress in her writing ever since. Enjoy this interview.
Getting a book deal at 26 was impressive enough, but before you actually got the deal you had penned two unpublished novels. Was writing something you always knew you would do? Were you working in another field before signing on as a full-time writer?
In my heart I always knew I wanted to be an author but it seemed like such a daunting task. I never thought it would be possible. In college, I decided to just go for it. I began writing and one thing led to another. I had a number of odd jobs. I was a nanny for many years.
Your writing has definitely progressed with each new book and genre. Do you find one area you’ve enjoyed writing in over another?
Thank you! I’m really enjoying the YA genre. I think the teen years are filled with the most angst and transition of any part in our lives. There is so much inspiration from my teen years.
Tell us about your latest book. What do you hope readers take away from it?
Love Off-Limits is a YA romantic comedy about a girl who falls for her boyfriend’s best friend. The book was fun to write because it raised so many questions about morality, and following your heart over hurting people. Honestly, I didn’t even know how the book was going to end when I began writing it. I didn’t know what kind of decision my main character, Natalie, should make until I was deeply into the process. I hope readers will ask themselves all the same questions I did as they are reading.
Share some of your writing goals. What’s next for you?
I’ve always really enjoyed writing comedy but I’d like to also write books with a dramatic element. I have a project in the works but I can’t tell you what it is just yet. I’ve never felt more passionate about a book. I will be more than happy to share it with you as soon as possible though!
What’s the most interesting book you’ve ever read?
Wow, that’s a tough one. I’ve read a lot of interesting books. My favorites are all interesting for different reasons. Lonesome Dove, The Dogs of Babel, The Tortilla Curtain, Midnight Champagne, and Plainsong go down as some of my favorites and the most thought provoking.
David Sedaris, Laurie Notaro, Jack London, Augusten Burroughs, John Grogan, and Mark Twain are just some of them.
As a fan of Jeopardy, I have to ask: did you know ahead of time you would be part of an answer on the show? Was it as cool as it seems?
It was so cool! I’m a fan too and my husband was raised on the show. I had no idea. I found out when we were celebrating my 30th birthday with my mom. Some friends from the east coast called me and told me Always the Bridesmaid was on the show. We rushed home from dinner to go see it. It’s definitely one of my favorite memories.
In your opinion, what’s the measure of a successful writer?
I firmly believe the measure of a successful writer is anyone who has the courage to complete a novel. Not publish or wind up in the bestseller list. I mean, just having the bravery to write 80,000 words is amazing. A lot of blood, sweat and tears go into writing a book. So if you’ve gotten that far you are a huge success.
Advice for other writers?
Learn to take criticism. Some of the hardest advice can really be the best. You have to be tough as nails when it comes to taking feedback if you want to make it anywhere in this business.
Where can we learn more about you?
My website, www.whitneylyles.com.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Thanks for the interview. Great questions! A lot of fun!