Somehow it’s only 48 days until my second book’s release!
Less than two months until The Boy Who Steals Houses, ok…um wow!!!! I seriously have to pinch myself because there were about one hundred and five times that I thought TBWSH wouldn’t see the light of day. It’s so so special to me. And you know when you write something super close to your heart, the pressure for it also grows?! IT ME.
Let me pause for the most small and soft and grateful scream.
Now I have three things to tell you…
(1) ARCs of The Boy Who Steals Houses are IN MY HANDS!!!! This feeling will never get old!! I can see my words in orderly lines on a page!!! It is my book!!!
(2) How to get an ARC? If you’re in the UK or Australia, you can request with Hachette Children’s. Or it’s also up on Netgalley UK right here. I don’t have control over approvals, but good luck!
(3) and lately, it’s high time we had a Q&A, right?!
Also I’m GIVING AWAY an ARC over on my instagram! So don’t forget to enter!
so let’s talk about publishing, writing, The Boy Who Steals Houses, and various devious things
I asked for questions on instagram and got…a lot. (Seriously, can never get over how amazing my followers are! You care so much and it means the world to me.) So I thought I’d share a few answers here too.
(and if you want to preorder…which helps immensely…)
I did a similar Q&A last year for A Thousand Perfect Notes’ release too if you want to check it out below!
why do you call your books “your sons”?
For the very factual reason that both are narrated by boys so far! And I’ve had people ask why to the boy narrators, and it’s honestly just how things fell. I pitch a lot of books to my agent and editors and we figure out which has the best potential. My first books happened to be told by Beck and Sam. I think gender is less important than just telling your best story.
who is your favourite out of your two books?
Ok this is asking me to choose between MY CHILDREN. How dare. (But also I will totally answer because I’m innately terrible: but The Boy Who Steals Houses is my heart book. I love love love ATPN and am so fiercely proud of it. But I poured a lot into TBWSH and it has me all !!!! whenever I think of it.)
how long did it take you to write The Boy Who Steals Houses?
It took me 3 days over NaNoWriMo in 2016. Which was the fastest I’d ever written a NaNo book…! And ok, no it wasn’t the best draft, but it was a DRAFT. And for me it’s better just to tumble my intentions all over a word doc and then sort them into sensible piles later. (Ok now I sound like I’m doing laundry…but is writing the same as doing laundry???? I think yes.)
is your newest book going to be available in the USA?
It is not, sadly. I live in hope the USA will one day want me but so far…nope. And that is the sound of me whining pitifully in the background. (It would be a dream to get a hardcover, ok?! A dream.) But that’s why I point to Book Depository because the shipping is also free world wide!!
how do you format your manuscripts?
When I draft, my total method is “WHATEVER THE HECK I WANT” and I choose whatever font and just go with it. (Although lately I’ve been boring and stuck to Times Roman there as well.) So remember: draft = however makes you happy. It’s for your eyeballs.
But when I format for my agent and/or editor to read, it looks something like…
I use Word, double-spaced paragraphs, Times New Roman font, and the whole thing usually glitters with the reflection of my tears. Aw. I think this is pretty solidly the average formatting? But google. Google knows everything.
did you pay your agent before he found you a publisher?
I have to wave my arms wildly for this one, because it is the absolute worst trap you can fall into if you think this is an option. This is a scam!
A (legit) agent works like this: ➸ You query an agency (making sure they’re legit too, do your research) and they usually revise your manuscript with you for a while before they go out on submission to publishers. Nobody gets paid until YOU get paid by a publisher. Than an agent usually gets about 15%, depending on your contract.
how long did it take you to get an agent?
I queried for about 10 months before I signed. Which is relatively short in the scheme of things, tbh. But I want to say: I got absolutely and entirely rejected. Usually automatic form rejections too. About 50% of agents didn’t ever respond. It was like sending emails into the void. But you know what? It only takes ONE yes. And I only got one full request from my agent (Greenhouse UK) and one offer for representation.
And it was perfect for me. I am all the flail. (One yes!! That’s all you need!!)
how do you handle writers block?
mostly i sit on the floor and cry
No rEALLY, just ask my family and my friends. They have to mop up all the pieces lolol sob. I never used to get writers block, but publishing comes with a fair bucket load of self-doubt too (and you know what?! I still get TONS of rejections) and once you start seeing negative reviews and wondering about saaaaales and having impostor syndrome…ahhh, the list goes on. I get stuck. Like a lot.
So the two things I do are: (1) I cram the creative well full again, with lots of reading and watching movies and listening to music and scrolling pinterest (IT’S WORK OK) and I let myself have some space and don’t write. Or (2) I write anyway. I write feral little paragraphs that bite me back, and I just keep at it because something will happen. And sometimes any progress is worth it. You can always edit the nonsense. You can’t edit nothing.
Does Sam listen to Twice Burgundy?
I am 500% excited for you to see the A Thousand Perfect Notes easter eggs in this book ok? SO EXCITED.
most rewarding part of having a book published?
➸ making readers cryyyyy (also my editor cried, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯)
➸ getting to hold it!! as a physical book!! my favourite moment
➸ actually telling my stories and knowing people are going to have intense feelings about them
➸ that moment when you write a line and think, “THAT WAS GOOD.”
➸ walking into a bookstore and seeing your book on a shelf…100000/10 best moment of life
what is the thing you love most about Sam?
ugh I LOVE this kid of disasters and bruises. He has such a very soft heart and he puts all his energy into protecting his brother (Avery) and loving him fiercely enough to make up for the fact they’ve both been neglected and unloved all their lives. Sam’s incredibly flawed — but I adore the intense way he loves and protects things.
did you have any fears about publishing your book?
YES ONLY ALL OF THEM. What if people hate my book?? What if no one buys it and I never get another book deal?? What if there’s an awful typo? What if I’ve said something unforgivably wrong on accident?! What if all my friends hate it and it gets awkward?! WHAT IF IT EXPLODES INTO A THOUSAND SCREAMING MOTHS AND RUNS AWAY FROM ME?????
what inspired you to write this book?
(1) I wanted to write a genderbent Goldilocks retelling, (2) I go for long long walks every day and pass by a ton of houses, and sometimes they seem very empty and it makes me wonder…what happened if someone just sneaked in to live there, not to steal, while the owners are away? (3) I also wanted to write about autism (it me) and big families (I have one) and brownies (I do not have some right now and it’s making me sad).
how long does it take from being accepted by a publisher to being on the shelves?
It’s varies a lot! But an average is about 3 years. (For instance, I sold A Thousand Perfect Notes in 2016 and it was out June 2018.)
how much input did you have in the covers?
Noooooone, my friends. My editors and marketing team take care of that! They put so much details into the covers that it’s truly amazing. Beck’s broken and bloody butterfly is directly from a quote in A Thousand Perfec Notes. And Sam’s keys are what keeps him going in The Boy Who Steals Houses.
do you use a specific writing program?
I swear by Scrivener!! It puts my brain into nice little files and autosaves for me and basically does everything except make me breakfast. So 9/10. Why can’t it cook eggs.
how do you plan out your stories?
I basically write bullet-point list outlines. I spend a heck of a lot of time daydreaming to music or when I should be sleeping (lolol what is sleeping) and I piece patches of scenes together by running it all through my head like a movie. My outlines can get up to 20,000-words sometimes, so it’s intense around here. But who has time for being chill. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
how many words are in each of your books
ATPN = 50,000 words
TBWSH = 69,000 (that moment when the baby outgrows its older brother…)
how many books do you think you’ll write?
As many as I can!! I desperately would love to have a book out each year, but a lot of that depends on how well they sell so FINGERS CROSSED it works out. This is my dream! I work so hard with my writing and I have so many sharp and soft and glittering and dark stories to share with you, if I can.
how long do edits take you? do you draft other projects while you edit?
Ugh forever. I literally don’t stop editing until the book is printed lmao. Seriously, I love The Boy Who Steals Houses, but if I have to read it again, I will likely scream.
And I’m a one-project-at-a-time kind of person. I’ll have other ideas percolating while I write or edit, but I only actively write ONE project. And there’s plenty of time between edits! Sometimes I wait months between rounds of edits.
was it love at first draft?
Noooo…definitely hate. I distinctly remember putting this one in a dark cobwebbed corner and crying over it and thinking it was a disaster. And it WAS. But it got better. And then it got published so like, shout out to those manuscripts you love but are also murdering you.
do you ever name your characters after people you know?
No, but shh, can I tell you a secret? I often name books after authors. I write on my bed and stare at my shelf when blocked (aka when I need to think of a name and have NONE). One book in my eye-view was The Erth Dragons by Chris D’Lacey…
The last name of my big family in TBWSH is = DeLainey.
So yeah. There is this.
how much say do you get in the editing process?
It’s a collaboration process! Nothing happens without me agreeing to it. The best part is: I’m working with professionals who love my book super fiercely and can see it more clearly than I can (because I’m way too close to the project) and know how to make it better.
I did whinge at a few of the scene cuts ah hahaha…but ultimately I’m glad I cut them! Except there was a pretty terrific potato scene you will never see. I am sad. But it did zero for the plot, though 100% for my personal amusement.
which authors inspire you?
Oh so so many, but my particular inspirations are:
➸ Laini Taylor and Tahereh Mafi’s prose
➸ also Jandy Nelson’s prose, let’s be real here, she PAINTS with words
➸ Maggie Stiefvater for style and prose and character complexities and levels of oddness
➸ Adam Silvera for wrecking your hearts
➸ and Cassandra Clare inspires me with her perfect witty banter!