Thursday, December 25, 2008

Most amazing? Most frustrating?

Today, we asked Sarah Prineas to recap, and tell us about her debut year...

Sarah? What was the most amazing thing that happened to you in 2008?

A lot of weird and amazing stuff has happened in the six months since The Magic Thief came out, but probably the coolest was the UK tour. The book's UK publisher, Quercus, brought me over for a week in September. I did school visits and signings in the London area and Bristol, and--the most amazing thing--participated in a panel at the Bath Festival of Children's Literature.

Now, my book was blurbed by one of the authors I'd put on the list of "dream blurbers" that my editor asked me for, and that was Diana Wynne Jones. Just getting an invitation to the Bath Festival was a big freaking deal, but then I found out that I was slated to present on a panel with DWJ herself, and also with YA fantasy author Mary Hoffman.

The day itself was kind of crazy. I had a school visit that morning in Bristol, and after six days of busy-ness was starting to get a little tired out. Plus, DWJ's travel curse meant that part of a building had to explode in downtown Bath, causing all the traffic in the city to come to a standstill. Despite a late start, the show went on. The panel itself was a thrill. We each read a little snippet from our books (DWJ read from The House of Many Ways and Mary from her latest Stravaganza book), and then we settled down for a moderated chat. It was a delight! I wasn't nervous at all. Then we signed. There I was, signing books next to DWJ!!! I seriously had to pinch myself. DWJ's fans absolutely adore her; it was very fun to see. After that, along with my publicist and the Festival organizer, John McLay (who had a lot to do with my book's international sales), a couple of other people, and Mary Hoffman (who was a really entertaining conversationalist), I went out for drinks and then a fancy dinner at a French restaurant. Then a walk back to the hotel through the cobbled streets of Bath. Pretty amazing.

And how about the most frustrating thing?

I am going to tell you a secret thing about writers:


Yes, it's true. It's a theory, anyway. We write partly because we enjoy creating worlds and creating characters and then controlling everything about them.

*pause for maniacal laughter*

Yet while it might satisfy our detail-oriented, micromanaging selves, the control aspect of writing can also lead to enormous frustration, especially after the book is published. Because once it is finished and out in the world, the control-freak author can no longer control the book, or anyone's reaction to it, or whether anybody buys it or not, and that is...

...well, "frustrating" is one word for it.

My book came out in June. I spent most of July absolutely obsessing over the tiniest details having to do with the book. I called that stupid Ingram's warehouse number at least once a day; I stopped in to my local bookstore to see how many copies they had left. I even (oh, the shame) checked the book's ranking on

Of course all of these numbers are just about meaningless, but checking them meant I had *control*--somehow--over how the book was doing.

It was a terrible month.

Finally the "frustration" got to be too much and I quit the obsession cold turkey. I started a word file and kept it on my computer desktop. It says this:




So that has been the most frustrating thing, a very difficult, hair-tearing, teeth-grinding thing. Just...letting go.

1 comment:

Ellen Booraem said...

Dianna Wynne Jones!!!! I am awestruck. How wonderful, Sarah!