Q: What challenges did you overcome to write and publish your YA novel, Imperfect?
A: I think the biggest challenge for me was learning how to translate the clear vision of the world in my head into words that did it justice. Imperfect is set in a morose, futuristic world where the United States has been taken over my large corporations. The people live in a highly stratified social hierarchy and have little to no contact to the people outside their region. Think North Korea run by Monsanto. I spent hundreds of hours imagining all the little nuances of this world and the characters living in it but had trouble initially expressing those details in compelling text. When was there too much detail? When was there not enough? I got the feel of it eventually but it took me a while. I ended up rewriting the whole thing five times.
Q: What trends do you see in your genre?
A: The word “dystopia” has recently become a dirty word in the YA sphere. Why? Because most YA books are formulaic. They tell the same stories. Writing a dystopian novel has become like a mix-and-match game. Yes, I definitely need to have a totalitarian government. Love triangle? Gimme! Ooh, mysterious, womanizing, sexy bad-boy who falls madly in love with the protagonist? Must. Have. It often feels like the genre contains one core story that is told hundreds of different ways through hundreds of different filters. It’s infuriating. I love dystopian stories (obviously) and, to me, there is nothing more exciting than reading a fresh take on the futuristic-adventure concept. So, let’s go writers. Let’s leave the cliches to rot and come up with something awesome. The readers are ready.
Q: If you had to write your book all over again, what would you do differently?
A: Lots of things! My brain is hard-wired to come up with story ideas (it doesn’t do anything else!). As soon as I submitted my final manuscript, I was chomping at the bit to incorporate new elements and change dialogue. Specifically, I had these two scenes: one between Summer (my protagonist) and Aaron (the leader of Troop 5, the rebel group); the other between Summer and Ian Cooper, (the son of Making Perfect’s CEO) that I never added that I wished I had. It would’ve been great to have readers really get to know Aaron and his relationship with the people of Troop 5 before the end of the book.
Q: Who are your favorite authors? Why?
A: I have so many—way too many to name—but the ones that are coming to mind right now are E. Lockhart, Shakespeare, J.K. Rowling, Cassandra Clare, and Leo Tolstoy. Here’s why:
I love E. Lockhart because We Were Liars was the most stunning, clever, and beautifully woven YA book I’ve ever read. Shakespeare because he is (duh!) the master of the English language and crafts the most beautiful sentences and plots—he made me fall in love with the power of the written word. J.K. Rowling because, growing up, Harry Potter taught me more about family, being true to yourself, and being a good person than any other book. Cassandra Clare because I’ve never cried as hard as I did finishing Clockwork Princess. Seriously. I would give anything to write that powerfully. And Leo Tolstoy because of the beautiful descriptions he uses to transport his readers into his work—reading Anna Karenina is like entering a time capsule.
Q: How can we get more people to read books more often?
A: Write awesome stories that catch people’s imaginations. Reading is a magical experience and one that can’t be recreated through any other medium. You can’t get the same rush watching TV as you can finishing the final chapter of a book that you’d been reading for the previous six hours straight. Books are so accessible that the only impediment to reading is the attention-deficit electronic-driven culture we live in where we no longer take the time to plunge into a story. The desire to read has to come from within us. It can’t be forced upon anybody.
Q: What has been the best moment in your publishing journey?
A: Getting my first proof in the mail. Holding it in my hands. Seeing the story in print. I was in awe—all of the years of daydreaming, planning and writing had finally come together into something tangible. It had a glossy cover! I couldn’t believe it. I danced around my living room in pure joy, gave my family members massive hugs, and sat down to read the whole thing through to check for typos. That was my biggest high.
Q: What advice for have for a struggling author trying to get published?
A: Write a good story. Write a story that you love and that you would want to read. If you have your heart set on traditional publishing, send out some queries, attend writer’s conferences, and stick with it until you get responses. If you prefer the control and higher royalties that come from self-publishing, do that instead. At the end of the day, your choice of publishing method isn’t what matters. Your story does. If you have a story that you adore, have poured your heart and soul into, and are willing to do the work for, everything else will fall into place.
Claire Fraise is the author of Imperfect (CreateSpace). She is a client of Media Connect. For more information about the author, please consult makingperfectinc.com. You can follow the author at facebook.com/clairefraise3445 or twitter.com/clairefbooks.