I stumbled upon news that Brodi Ashton had just gotten a book deal, and when I popped over to her blog, I realized what a fabulous interview she would make for us here at Working Writers. First off, she is very open and honest about the hard work it took to get a book deal, which I think is important. Second, she doesn’t make the hard work sounds like she was…. sigh….. slogging away…. sigh….. under-appreciated…..
She just talks about the process realistically. So I think writers can learn a lot from her, and give her a wonderful shout out because getting a book deal is a pretty cool thing. So please welcome her with open arms, and feel free to ask questions if you’re so inclined.
Enjoy this interview.
Congrats on your recent book deal! Please tell us about The Ever’neath.
Thank you! The Ever’neath borrows from the Greek myth of Persephone, and sets it in a modern high school. Here’s the schpiel. (Shpeal? schpeal?) Fine, blurb.
The first book in the deal, The Ever’neath, is partially based on the Greek myth of Persephone: a 17-year-old who’s been banished to the underworld escapes to her former earthly existence with her family and boyfriend. The catch is that she only has six months in the real world before being sent back to Hades, this time forever.
Did you decide to write a trilogy from the beginning?
No, but I think I always wondered if there was more to the story when I finished the book. While I was interviewing possible agents, one of them suggested that maybe I wasn’t finished exploring The Ever’neath, and I realized he was right. (That’s one of the reasons I went with my agent, Michael Bourret). He asked me how many books I wanted to write in the series. In thinking about it, I wanted to make sure there would be a separate and complete story arc for each book, and that’s how I decided on a trilogy. I knew there were three stories I wanted to tell.
Or maybe the short answer to the question should be… yes. Totally.
Many writers are looking for agents these days. What’s the best tip you can give them for find the right agent for them?
I’ll share a few:
1. Don’t be afraid to rack up the rejections. My sister-in-law and I challenged each other to reach 100 rejections. I totally did that. But I learned so so much on the way, and I found an agent! Who ended up not selling my first ms, and not liking my second. But that whole experience helped me find another agent, who loved and sold my second book. Sometimes the first partnership isn’t the right partnership.
2. Query in small batches, and retool your query letter until you start routinely getting full and partial requests. For instance, if you send out five, and you get no requests, then it might be a good idea to tweak the query.
3. Don’t sign with someone who intimidates you. If you’re afraid to email your agent, it’s probably not a good match.
I’ve got a million more, but I’ll spare you all.
Share some of your writing goals. What’s next for you?
Right now I’m staring down the barrel of a pretty intense revision letter from my editor for the first book. And then I have the second and the third books to write. So I guess that covers what’s next for me. As for writing goals, I always have the goal of finishing the next book. It never gets easier. (Maybe after the 20th book, it does). But every time I start a new book, I think, “How in the world am I going to do this again? Is it even possible? Was my last book the last book I’ll ever write?”
I think as writers, the self-doubt is a killer.
What’s the most interesting book you’ve ever read?
That’s a tough one, and I think it’s impossible for me to answer. But one of the most interesting books I’ve read recently is a YA book called The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson. And one of my all-time favorites is Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe: A Novel by Fannie Flagg.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I have two young boys, so I guess when I’m not writing, I’m mostly a mom. Sometimes I play a little tennis.
Book you’re currently reading?
When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead.
In your opinion, what’s the measure of a successful writer?
I have no idea. Probably a writer who keeps writing. I think there are so many things that stand in the way of writing- family obligations, fear of rejection, fear of public scrutiny, fear of failure, self doubt, self loathing (because let’s face it, writers are a self-loathing bunch)- there has to be a certain measure of success for those who just keep going.
Where can we learn more about you?
I have a blog, where I post regularly on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
I’m also on twitter.
I think I’m goodreads too.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Thanks for the interview!