my book is officially 1 year old today 🥺
And you better believe this is a good chance for me to be feeling absolutely all of the things. I feel like I should be saying “it went so fast!” but omg 😂 I feel like it’s been out for 19 years already. Life has been stressful this last year, loooong and slow and a little serrated around the edges. But I’ll forever be proud of this book, and humbled by the love it’s gotten from you all and with some award nominations and bookstore features. It’s just!! It will never cease being an incredible honour to be a published author.
Sam, Avery, and the De Laineys are chaotic and heartfelt and messy — and I really really love them. (I also miss writing them!)
Also this is a freaking fantastic chance to eat ice cream to celebrate and [clenches fist] I took that opening. Ice cream was good tonight.
I asked for some questions on instagram, so I’ll post some of the answers here too!
Also feel free to ask me whatever you’d like and I’ll answer in the comments. I did intend to do something really special for its first birthday but [cough it’s clearly the second child] I am really busy and also super tired. Also old in my bones, apparently.
💛 read the deleted scene about potatoes
💛 a christmas short story (from Moxie’s perspective)
💛 my happy release day post
💛 inspiration behind the boy who steals houses
💛 bake Moxie’s caramel brownies (recipe!)
💛 what it’s like to write an #ownvoices novel
it’s basically a combination of:
- genderbent Goldilocks retelling
- I have a big family so it was something that easily fit into my writing
- I wanted to write a bit of an inverse of my debut (A Thousand Perfect Notes) where violence was used purposefully to control, whereas we have Sam’s violence that scares him. He’s not a “bad person” but he does bad things — and explore how he deals with that.
TBWSh says thank you!! 😍 And okay I LOVED writing all the De Lainey banter scenes. Moxie cutting Sam’s hair. Using Sam as a pincushion. The twins giving Sam the “big brother” talk and Jeremy getting worried his ship wasn’t sailing…
I wish I had a cool casting but I barely watch movies/shows and wouldn’t have a CLUE of actors young enough 😂 I’m pretty terrible…
any advice for authors about to start querying?
Querying is really really stressful 😭😂 I’ve been through the query trenches twice and I do have a lot of thoughts and feelings about it. But my top tips would be.
- Make sure you’ve researched SO MUCH. All about the agents, who they rep, how to query, how to write a synopsis. Google google.
- Definitely make some sort of spreadsheet to keep track of who you query, response times, if you can query more agents there if one rejects.
- MAKE SURE SOMEONE ELSE EDITS YOUR QUERY TOO!! We’re too close to our work and we need imput.
- Get a panic buddy 🥺 I cried all over my writing friends. a LOT. They kept me going!!
did you find that publishing was hard? how long did it take?
Publishing is definitely a hard beast to manage (whether you go indie or traditional), especially when you’re new to it…and anxious and clueless 😂 AND YOUNG. (I was only 19 when I signed with my first agent.) And the industry is obviously very competitive and I was a small release, I’m really glad I had amazing support from this community though.
are things like colour and music a big part of your life as they seem to feature in your novels?
I did a lot with music growing up: I played violin, cello and piano in high school. I was self-taught and then took lessons…and look I was “okay” at it, but I didn’t really understand musical concepts. 😂Like timing. Like properly reading music. Ahem. But I was a bit obsessed with classical music so that’s definitely why I gravitated towards writing about it.
And I love colour 🥰 hence my rainbow shelves! But the yellow in TBWSH was because of it being a Goldilocks retelling!
how long did it take you to write TBWSH?
I wrote the first draft in 3 days for NaNoWriMo, 2016! Then I wrote the next draft over a month while moving house (I even was rewriting while sitting in a tent). And then I kept writing, rewriting, tweaking, and editing it for the next like 2 years. 😂 Because an author’s job is never done.
tips on writing lgbt+, disabled, minority characters if you don’t identify as such?
1) do your research! go beyond what you can easily google. Read memoirs of people who’ve lived the life. Follow them on online, read blogs/twitter/forums, especially listen to diverse advocacies and read #ownvoices books.
2) definitely get sensitivity readers!
3) if you’re not part of the minority, my instinct is to write the character IN your story, but don’t write THEIR story. Don’t write what it’s like to BE gay or be blind. Capture how their identity affects their life, but just be respectful and cautious. Ex: I could write a black character, but I wouldn’t write what it IS to be black, because that’s way out of my lane. 💛
how long did it take you to get published?
A long long time *laugh sob* I started writing seriously at 15. I queried and found an agent at 19, first book failed on submission. Then I wrote A Thousand Perfect Notes and it sold when I was 22. It came out in 2018 when I was 24. Then The Boy Who Steals Houses came out in 2019. I’ve now just signed with a new agent in 2020 and hope to get back into the publishing industry soon 😍
in other words: DON’T GIVE UP. a failed book isn’t a failed career, and often a “fail” is so subjective anyway!!
where do you typically start when writing a story?
The beginning! I am VERY linear. I must start at the beginning and go right to the end and then…stop. (To badly quote Lewis Carroll. 😂)
can you tell us anything about your next project?
okay sure sure 😌
- these disaster kids make Sam and Avery look sensible.
- it’s set in Australia
- at one point a character screams “I JUST WANT TO SLEEP” and that is 100% just me projecting into my own novel.
- I’m also supposed to be working on it right now but TBWSH needed a birthday okay.
is it possible to you to do a sequel to TBWSH?
LOOK I WOULD LIKE TO but it’s not looking likely though I dream. 🥺
how can you break hearts so easily?
You all think I’m nice and it’s just really really not true, see. I’m a Slytherin with a cold cold heart. 😚💛
how much cake did u eat while writing it?
So my family went away for the weekend so I was in the house ALONE, writing. I just ate brownie and pasta for 3 days. If you read one of my books and think “wow c.g. is writing a lot about this food” just know I was also probably eating it at the time. I have a great imagination like that.
how do you learn to writ such beautiful descriptions?
Annoyingly, I say practise. I’m inspired by what I read and I study my favourite authors’ style and craft. I adore the work of Maggie Stiefvater, Laini Taylor and Anna-Marie McLemore (they write DIVINE prose) so I look at how they do it, what words they choose, etc etc.
Another thing is to hone into your five senses. I love to describe how things taste and feel. It draws you into the moment and makes it feel real.
how do you get to know your characters and their voices?
My first drafts are basically: “get to know the characters” time. I have a solid idea of who I want them to be beforehand, but I generally write messily to start off with while I learn them deeply and truthfully.
Writing lists also helps: make sure you know their fears, the kind things they do, what defines them (their peculiarities and quirks), make sure you know what would devastate them and what they want more than anything. I write character driven stories, so I need to know them very closely to make my plots work.
what would the De Laineys be doing in quarantine?
Sam would be totally fine. He just wants to stay in a house anyway. While Avery would have broken social distancing 3898498 times in 2 minutes because he loves touching and draping himself over everyone.
Moxie would be aggressively sewing and hating being cooped up and using Sam as a pincushion. (Lovingly.)
Jeremy, an extrovert, would be staring out the window singing a sad sad song. While Jack paced until they all tried to kill him.
Maybe Mr De Lainey would get A NAP???
if you have any questions, feel free to ask!! (can be about writing, books, tbwsh, publishing…anything!) and thanks for being with me on this journey 💛