What is your genre? Why did you choose it?
This was actually a tough one for me. I kept going back and forth between two genres because I felt like my story was appropriate for both middle grade and young adult readers. My publisher, Pants On Fire Press, helped me decide with their blog post: The difference between Young Adult and Middle Grade Books, where it said, “In your novel, think about your child protagonist and the situation they face. Is it an adult experience they have never faced…and do they lose their childhood spectacles in the process? If so, then you are writing a young adult novel. Think of your character crossing a threshold as they leave innocence, never to return… Now, if the child faces a situation but is unaffected and is therefore smarter and continues to see the world through a child’s eyes, you are writing a middle grade book.”
Based on the examples above, mine is a Young Adult novel. The protagonist, whose name is Pepper, faces adult experiences when she travels to different worlds in search of her parents, and grows up in the process. By the end of the book, Pepper has left her childhood behind.
Do you work on more than one manuscript at a time?
It depends. If I have a deadline to meet, then yes, I’ll just work on one manuscript. But it’s difficult because when I get an idea, I can’t sleep until I write it all out. So sometimes I will work on more than one manuscript, but only because I can’t sleep!
Do you work with a writing/critique group?
Not at the moment, but I should. When I need someone to read my manuscript, I have a few different book club groups that I’ll give it to and they will give me suggestions and edits. It’s great because I know these groups read a lot so the ideas they give are always really good! I think it’s something that all book clubs should do every once in a while. It’s a wonderful experience for both the author and the book club members.
Can you remember your first reading book?
Yes! It was the Ramona series by Beverly Cleary. I took Ramona with me everywhere and considered her as one of my close friends. Now I’m reading Ramona to my daughter. It’s great that Beverly Cleary’s books are timeless.
Do you nibble on snacks while writing? If so, what is your chosen treat?
Oh, my gosh, yeah! I will eat just about anything. Seriously, I will. My favorite snacks at the moment are these dark chocolate covered cherries and cranberries. I have a big bag of them from Costco. I can’t get enough of them, it’s so sad.
OOh, sounds scrummy. Good job I don’t have a Costco near me!
Tidy desk or a bombsite? Describe your writing area with us.
Arg! I have to admit, it’s chaos. But…about every few weeks I get fed up with it and spend an hour cleaning before I can get any work done. The good thing? Even though it’s messy, I know exactly where everything is! (most of the time)
Are you published in the traditional manner or self published? Share your journey.
Boy, is that a long story. I’ll try to be brief. I started writing as just a hobby, and was (and still sometimes am) terrified to have anyone read my stories. But this particular story was so fun that I thought others might enjoy it as well. When I thought I was ready, I sent it out to a bunch of agents, and you guessed it, got a ton of rejections. But it was good because I wasn’t really ready like I thought I was.
I refined the writing and made it better, then sent if off again, and once more, got lots of rejections. I still wasn’t ready. I rewrote everything again and was able to persuade a few people to read it and give me suggestions. I was afraid to send it off again, when I read somewhere that if you can’t get agents to look at your work, try submitting it directly to small publishing companies. Sot that’s what I did. I researched a few, and really like Pants On Fire Press. I submitted it to them and they ended up giving me a contract. It was amazing.
Well done for persevering!
Who would you say have been the three most influential authors in your reading/writing life?
Oh, gosh – just three? Okay, I would have to say J.R.R. Tolkien, Orson Scott Card, and Rachel Hawkins. If I could slip Beverly Cleary in there too, I would 😉 I think you’ll find that my writing has a mix of all these authors together.
What advice would you like to share with other writers/authors with regard to preparing a manuscript?
It’s harder than you think! Okay, that’s no help, sorry. How about this gem of advice – don’t give up! I almost did SEVERAL times, but I have wonderful friends who believed in me and convinced me otherwise. Honestly, I’m not the best writer, but I have great, adventurous stories, and I think that’s what publishers are looking for. Just make it great. The writing will improve over time, and thank goodness for editors! Trust them – they know what they’re talking about.
If the movie rights to your novels are purchased, who would you like to play your main characters?
Am I allowed to think about that?!? I don’t want to jinx anything. Oh, why not – it’s never going to happen. I honestly don’t know too many young actors, so I’m going to name the younger version of adult actors. Pepper would be played by a fifteen year old version of Jennifer Garner or Ellen Page. Not sure who that would be, but I’m sure she’s out there. Parker could be played by Zachary Levi, Kai would be Hayden Christensen, and Olina would be Olivia Wilde. One of my favorite actors is America Ferrera, so I’d be sure to fit her in somewhere.
I was on my way to the supermarket, when … Do you have a tale to tell relating to an everyday, boring event?
My life has been a lot more interesting since I’ve had kids. I’ll never forget when my daughter was 6, I had told her she had to sit in the back seat of the car because that’s where her booster seat was. She asked if she could call Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to get the rule changed so she could sit in the front of the bus! I couldn’t believe she was comparing herself to Rosa Parks.
And just the other day, my 4 year old son was asking me to download the game with the “chomping cheese” – it took me awhile to figure out he was talking about pac-man! It’s the little things like that that bring a smile to my face.
Out of the mouth of babes! Thanks for the stories.
Bio: Monica Strang is a talented and skillful web developer. Her creativity has spilled from crafting websites into writing Young Adult novels. She resides in San Diego, California with her husband and two children. You can find out more about Monica and her books online at http://www.qwertybird.com.