I am so thrilled to have Lucy Connors, author of the THE LONESOME YOUNG (Razorbill, April 8) with me today. Lucy Connors is the YA pseudonym of Alesia Holliday, winner of Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA Award for excellence in romantic fiction. As Alyssa Day, she is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of paranormal romance novels series. Alesia/Lucy is the founder of the TeenLitAuthors group on Yahoo, which has brought hundreds of YA writers together to share ideas, thoughts, market news, and craft information. She lives in Jacksonville, Florida, with her family and a varying number of rescue dogs.
Visit Lucy's website to learn more about THE LONESOME YOUNG series. You can also check in with Lucy on Facebook and Twitter.
Q: It's been almost 10 years since you started TeenLitAuthors! Can you tell us what inspired you to form the group and reflect on how it has grown?
A: Believe it or not, I started the group as a mentoring group. I’d written two books to help launch Dorchester Publishing’s (now defunct) teen line, Smooch, and a lot of writers asked me how to get published in teen fiction. I thought I’d share what little I knew, LOL, and offer a forum for us to learn and grow together. We had many editor and agent guests (I need to start that up again!) and grew together. Over the years, the activity on the loop has waxed and waned, but I feel lucky to have been part of it for all these years.
Q: This group has helped so many of us to make connections in the writing community, and to learn from (and commiserate with) other YA and MG authors. What have you found to be most helpful or rewarding about staying connected with Teen Lit Authors (even when you were writing for different audiences)?
A: Oh, wow. I’ve loved so much of it, but I have to say the most personally rewarding days are when one of our members announces a success. Getting an agent, getting a book deal, finding achievement in their writing careers—all of it gives me such a thrill!! Watching writers I’ve known for years go from unpublished to international superstars is amazing.
Q: Tell us about Lucy Connors! When did you get the idea to return to YA with a new romance series for teens, and what has the experience been like to introduce a brand new YA voice (and your fourth pen name!)?
A: With The Lonesome Young series (it’s a series! How cool is that??), I wanted a chance to express some of the emotions and feelings of my own teen years. Like Victoria, I was a sheltered, nerdy smart girl who was wrenched out of my comfort zone and tossed into a rural environment where I was not just an outsider but practically an alien. I had some very, very tough parts of my childhood and teen years, and we were really, really poor. Almost-homeless sometimes. Needing food stamps sometimes. That poor. I wanted to write a book that spoke to kids like me, who had far more devastating problems than what dress to wear to the prom. Oh—and the name? My daughter is Lauren, nickname Lucy, and my son is Connor. It was an easy name to choose. <g>
Q: You've commented on the group about how long it takes in children's publishing to get a book to publication. What other differences have you seen between YA publishing and your adult romance/urban fantasy publishing experiences (regarding the process, promotion, the community in general)?
A: Wow. It’s so different that I almost feel like an alien again. Luckily, through this loop and friends I’ve made here, I’ve stayed in touch with the YA field, but it is VERY different. Different and far more intense revision process, since in children’s publishing houses your book is one of so few produced that quarter, compared to the massive quantity of romance novels. Really long lead time. Different marketing strategies—and my publisher, Razorbill (a Penguin Teen house) has been amazing. I’m actually going to be in an ad in PEOPLE magazine on 4/25!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (I was very professional on the phone for that conference call and then I hung up and screamed!)
Q: In January, you wrote publicly for the first time about your struggles with depression, and encouraged others to share what they are going through and seek the help they need. Your words were met with outpouring of support, and helped so many people who are dealing with depression, too. This is not so much a question, as a thank you for your bravery and openness. We all hope you're doing well, and that the stories are singing and dancing for you again.
A: Thank you so much. It’s a process, and I know that. My editors were unbelievably kind and supportive, and I received hundreds of emails, messages, and phone calls of support. I am so grateful for the amazing kindness shown to me during this hard time. I made the very tough personal decision to go public because I’d suffered for so long without getting help--I was ashamed to admit I needed it. Superwoman need therapy?? Depression meds?? Surely not!! [SO wrong.] But the people who wrote to me to tell me they were printing out my blog to take to their doctors and finally get help made it all worthwhile a thousand times over.
Q: In addition to YA, you continue to write in two other genres. How do you juggle it all (or choose what to write on any given day)?
A: I’m actually only writing paranormal romance as Alyssa Day and YA contemp as Lucy Connors right now, although I might write more of my humorous mystery novels as Alesia Holliday one day. I’m also on the national board of Romance Writers of America and I just adopted another rescue dog (she was a starving puppy found by the side of the road! What could I do?), so I’m very, very busy. I’m trying to take it one step at a time and not let myself get overwhelmed again.
Q: What's ahead for Alesia, Alyssa and Lucy? (What are you writing, and when will it be on bookshelves?)
A: The Lonesome Young comes out April 8 and I’m so excited for everyone to meet these two crazy feuding families!! I have a novella and a boxed set coming out in my Alyssa Day world in the next few weeks. I’m finishing the sequel to The Lonesome Young, titled Carry Me Home, right now and I think it might be out in the fall, although I’m not sure yet. And Alyssa Day has 2 more books in the Curse of the Black Swan trilogy to appear!
Q: Finally, because we are all about learning from each other: What is the one thing (or two, or three) you've learned that has been most helpful to your career as an author?
A: I just wrote an entire article on Writing the Contemporary YA Romance for the RWA magazine, and I’ll share it here as soon as I can. And I also do a series of tweets I call Dear Aspiring Author on twitter as Alyssa Day. But wow. Distilling it down to only 3 is tough, but I’ll try to give you 3 of my top:
- Build your network of fellow writers as soon as you can and stick to those friends like glue. Support each other through the tough times, cheer for each other through the good times, and never, ever let professional jealousy get in your way. This business is HARD. I wouldn’t want to do it without my writer friends.
- Let your voice shine through in everything you write. I define “voice” as “your personality on the page.” It’s unique to you and what makes you special.
- Read, read, read, and learn, learn, learn. You can never rest on your laurels—I work to improve as a writer in every single book. Our readers deserve it.
Thank you, Lucy, for answering my questions and for being such a wonderful source of inspiration and support to so many of us!
About THE LONESOME YOUNG:
Get swept away in the first book of the sensational romantic drama that is Romeo & Juliet meets Justified.
HE’S TRAPPED BETWEEN RIGHT AND WRONG…
Mickey Rhodale’s brother is the head of a Kentucky drug-running gang, but his father is the sheriff. In spite of his bad boy reputation, Mickey’s determined to stay on the right side of the law. But a threat to his sister might force him into doing very dark deeds to protect his family. And in Kentucky, family is everything…
SHE’S CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF A FEUD SHE DOESN’T UNDERSTAND…
Victoria Whitfield is a sheltered boarding school student until her father goes bankrupt, and her family has to move to her grandmother’s horse ranch. Victoria’s trying to fit back into her role as family peacemaker, but a violent death and the attention of the town bad boy are turning her life upside down. Suddenly this very good girl wants to rebel and take something–someone–for herself.
RHODALES AND WHITFIELDS HAVE HATED EACH OTHER FOR MORE THAN A CENTURY
But love can be even stronger than blood, and two people with everything to lose can sometimes find a way to win.