17 October 2012

Revisiting a "Hidden" Interview with Sophie Jordan, author of the FIRELIGHT series

For nearly four years, I've been interviewing published authors for a Q&A series on the Teen Lit Authors list serve on Yahoo (which has 800+ members!). In that time, I've featured more than 40 authors, all of whom have shared wonderful insights into their journeys as authors, their writing process, promotional efforts, their ups, downs, joys, frustrations… you name it.

When I started this blog a month ago, I posted the past year's worth of interviews in the archives. But that left three more years of great interviews hidden away on the loop. I've decided to post some of my favorites (with updates) here as well, and will try to do one of these per week (or so) until I run through them all! I'm so excited to share these interviews with you.

Sophie Jordan
First up is Sophie Jordan

This interview took place in February 2011. Sophie's debut YA novel, FIRELIGHT (Sept. 2010, Harper Collins) had introduced readers to Jacinda, a fire-breathing "draki" girl (descended from dragons who could shift between human and dragon form). Since then, Jacinda and her draki friends (and not-so-friendly draki, and draki-hunters) have returned in VANISH (Sept. 2011) and HIDDEN (Sept. 2012). 

Sophie is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Avon historical romances, and also writes paranormal romances under the name Sharie Kohler. Visit her website to learn more.

Q: FIRELIGHT was your first YA, but you are multi-published in other genres. Can you tell us a little bit about the path you took and how your writing career has led you to YA?

A: Basically, I began to read YA just to get a break from what I was writing. I love writing romance, but wanted to stay fresh - wanted to keep myself from tiring of it, so I started reading outside the genre. I loved how different YA could be. I could write in first person - or not! My book could be sexy - or not. I could go in so many different directions. It was only natural for me to start coming up with ideas for my own YA. My agent was as excited as I was, so before I knew it I had a proposal ready to shop. 

Q: By my count, you've had 13 books (now 19?) published since 2006. That's a lot of writing! Could you describe your writing process, and how you handle various projects that might be in the works simultaneously?

A: I average about three books a year ... so yes, things tend to overlap. I just tackle it a day at a time, focusing on the closest deadline first. If I know I have a book due in three months, I calculate what I need to do, page-wise, every day to get it done. I build in some extra time because things always happen - revisions can come in or copyedits or ... who know? That thing called life can happen.

One thing I do now that I didn't do when I first started writing is outlining. If I'm writing a book in 2-3 months, I can't afford to wing it. I have to know where I'm going. The writing comes faster that way.

Q: I never tire of hearing authors' stories about how they found their agent or first publisher. Can you tell us yours?

A: I queried agents like mad - and entered contests focusing on getting to the agents offered as judges to the finalists. It took me close to two years to find an agent, and then she sold my first book in two weeks! Still surprises me that it took me so long to get an agent, but then she turned around and "sold" me so quickly.

Q: Author book tours are somewhat rare these days, but you did have one (in fall 2010) to kick off the release of Firelight. Can you tell us about the tour?

A: The Firelight tour was scheduled and organized by my publisher, Harper Teen. It involved several bookstore signings, as well as school visits and attendance/speaking at local teen book conferences. We even popped in for some stock signings. There were days where we may have had as many as three events. It was a busy three weeks of on/off again traveling, but a great opportunity Harper provided.

I also toured with another author, Kiersten White. In certain cities, we were joined by other bestselling YA authors to make the event even more noteworthy. I think author tours in children's books are worthwhile because you can visit schools and "kid" conferences alongside the bookstores. As a YA author you want to be on librarians' radar as much as possible, and a tour like this really helped accomplish that. It definitely helped get awareness of me and my book out there in the world.

Q: What has been the most surprising thing you've discovered about the world of publishing? What has been most challenging?

A: Wow. That's tough to encapsulate. I feel like I'm constantly learning and evolving as a writer. I'm surprised all the time.

This business is a roller coaster. Some days it's all euphoria and other days you struggle with self-doubt and disappointment. I guess I just learned to be grateful for all my blessings. I remind myself how lucky I am that I've found success doing something I love for a living - this helps keep me grounded. I think you need to guard against negativity - in yourself and in those around you.

Thank you, Sophie! 

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