Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Day 2: Interview with Marissa Doyle
We're back with Marissa Doyle, debut young adult author of Bewitching Season. Our goal on this second day of Marissa's book launch week: a hard-hitting interview that gets to the heart of this talented author. Let the interview begin...
2k8: Where do you do most of your writing? We want a picture. And please don't tidy up before snapping the shot.
Marissa Doyle: It used to be the guest bedroom…and there is still a bed in there, so I suppose technically a guest could still sleep there. But first they’d have to remove the stacks of papers and reference books for the story I’m currently working on and albums of nineteenth century fashion plates and pile of fluffy bunnies and my Jane Austen action figure from the bed. They could always put it all on the other side of the room, but that’s where my boxes of fabric and sewing machine and quilts in progress are. It’s a good thing my family are all relatively nearby and don’t need to stay overnight very often.
The room is very cozy and very mine, full of things (books and rabbits and antique china on the walls) and colors (periwinkle blue and yellow) that I love. I’m a nester, so I can go in and close the door and lose myself in my work-in-progress and feel secure and happy.
2k8: You revealed yesterday that you began writing Bewitching Season from a prompt at a RWA meeting. More details, please.
Marissa Doyle: The prompt, “Oh my God, you killed him!”, worked very well for an opening. After that, the story mostly just came out like a ribbon unrolling from a spool. I write very linearly, and almost never skip around writing scenes as they occur to me though I will jot down notes if I have an idea for later on in the action. And I always know what the end will be when I start a book. It’s so much easier to write if you have something to aim at.
2k8: And how did it find a publisher? Give us the *real* dirt!
Marissa Doyle: It was all very boring and textbook, actually. I researched and queried agents and signed with one, and she sold the book a couple of months later. It always bemuses me when people say, “The only way to get an agent/sell a book is to have connections! It’s all a matter of who you know!” Umm…maybe sometimes having an “in” somewhere will help. But it’s certainly not the only way. Utter newbie authors sell. Most of us in 2k8 will attest to that.
2k8: Did anything surprise you or catch you off guard when you were writing your book?
Marissa Doyle: Oh, you bet. Before selling, I was very fond of entering writing contests. The RWA has dozens of them, with finalists having their entries judged by editors and agents. It’s a great way to get feedback on your work and possibly get it in front of an acquiring editor. Bewitching Season did pretty well on the contest circuit, winning contests and getting requests from editors, but one anonymous first-round judge whom I will forever bless wrote on my entry something along the lines of, “This reads more like a young adult story than a romance.”
Well, it was like sirens and klieg lights suddenly switched on in my head. I was writing young adult? Really? I’d had no idea! So I could focus on my heroine’s character growth and not force the story into romance conventions and have fun!
This was a major moment for me, though I feel like rather an idiot for not having figured it out myself.
2k8: Imagine you have an offer from your dream press to publish your dream book, no matter how insane or unmarketable it might be (though of course it might not be). What story do you want to write next/someday and why?
Marissa Doyle: My secret dream book is already written and on my hard drive--I just haven’t asked my agent to try selling it yet because the end needs work and I’m up to my eyeballs in other books. It’s a contemporary fantasy for adults and begins with the premise that the Greco-Roman pantheon is (secretly) alive and well and teaching Classics at a large, prestigious New England university. I LOVE this story, and hope to sell it someday. But for now I’ll be focusing on young adult books.
2k8: What question won’t most people know to ask you? What is your answer?
Marissa Doyle: “Were you really once an avid curler?”
Okay, the answer is obviously yes…but first, how many of you know what curling is? ☺
2k8: To recap, we uncovered that Marissa Doyle mostly writes in a cute converted periwinkle blue + yellow guest bedroom. Bewitching Season began with a writing prompt from a Romance Writer's meeting. She realized she was writing young adult thanks to a comment on a contest entry. Her dream book is already written. She was an avid curler.
Not too shabby an interview. If we do say so ourselves. :)
Psst. News that's hot off the press! Bewitching Season is an Editor's Choice pick for this quarter at the Historical Novel Society, a review mag dedicated to historical fiction. And it's a super nice review too. :)