When I came up with the idea for this series I had no idea how many incredible authors I would get to interview. Heck, I wasn’t even sure the authors I emailed would even write back. So far I’ve been very lucky to talk with and interview many amazing authors who truly do inspire me to be a better writer. One of those inspiring people is today’s featured author – Elsie Chapman.
What I enjoyed most about my discussion with Elsie was her candor about her writing. She wasn’t afraid to talk about the rejection she encountered on the way to getting her debut novel, DUALED, published. I must also mention that I am a bit jealous of Elsie because she lives in one of my most favorite cities in the world, Vancouver. One day I am determined to write a book with Vancouver as the setting just so I can go back and
visit research the city.
Many thanks to Elsie for allowing me to share her journey.
Amy: When did you first know you wanted to write young adult fiction?
Elsie: I didn’t make the active decision to write young adult, it’s just the voice that came most naturally. I’d love to try middle grade one day, but I don’t know if that’s possible. Readers can easily tell what doesn’t sound right.
Amy: How many manuscripts had you completed prior to DUALED?
Elsie: Just one. It was a paranormal, and it will forever remain trunked unless I ever decide to go mine it for parts. But I don’t regret the time it took me to write it. It taught me how to complete a full manuscript, as well as taking me through the querying process for the first time.
Amy: What was your first query process like?
Elsie: I burned through many, many agents before I realized that it was time to pull the manuscript. While it was hard, it also made me take a closer look at what I could work on for the next ms.
Amy: Did you have crit partners or beta readers that helped you polish DUALED? How critical were they to the process of completing the manuscript?
Elsie: Actually, I didn’t. My agent was the first to read it, and then my editor. Only after it sold and I met some fantastic YA authors online who I now call friends did anyone else see it. It’s definitely not the typical way of going about it! And I still have a very up and down relationship with DUALED. I’m very excited when people tell me they want to read it; at the same time, I feel very exposed.
Amy: If you had preliminary rejections, how did you deal with that feedback and continue to write?
Elsie: I kept in mind that it only takes one agent, and one editor, to fall in love with your work to make it all happen. Writing is such a subjective thing, as well—not everyone’s going to love the same book. Someone once said each rejection is like a scar you earn in battle, and it’s a great way to look at it.
Amy: How many agents did you query for DUALED?
Elsie: Too many, as I didn’t do it systematically but instead just sent out query letters to those agents I thought might be interested. It probably wasn’t the smartest way to go—if there are problems with your query letter or sample pages, most agents won’t take a second look. But I was incredibly fortunate that it worked out for me, as I ended up having multiple agents to pick from.
Amy: Did you receive instantaneous response or did you have to wait for requests/rejections?
Elsie: It was all over the board, from minutes to weeks. My latest rejection for representation came just a couple of months ago—about a year after DUALED sold.
Amy: What was your call like with The Chudney Agency? How did you know they were the right fit for you?
Elsie: Steven sent me an email saying he loved DUALED, wanted to offer rep, and for me to give him a call. It was one of the craziest weeks of my life, getting in touch with other agents who had fulls and speaking with each of them on the phone. While they were all fantastic and I couldn’t have gone wrong with any of them, in the end I went with Steven. He was the first to contact me, which meant a lot, and his enthusiasm was contagious.
Amy: As many writers know, the publishing world is very hard to break into. What was the one thing you did to help garner agent attention and sell your book?
Elsie: I don’t know if I did any one thing, except to just keep trying. I just wrote the best query letter I could, wrote the best book I could, and hoped someone would help me take the next step.
Amy: If you met an aspiring author on the street, and they told you they were on the brink of giving up on writing, what kind of advice would you give them to encourage them to press on?
Elsie: I think I’d ask why they felt like giving up. How long had they been writing for, how far into the process had they gone? Because publishing doesn’t always work out for everyone. It’s perfectly okay to just write for yourself and not feel like you didn’t accomplish something if you don’t get published. I think every writer is brave just for making the choice to write, even if we all end up taking different paths and end up in different places.
Elsie’s debut novel, DUALED will be released February, 2013. I can’t wait to read it!
The city of Kersh is a safe haven, but the price of safety is high. Everyone has a genetic Alternate—a twin raised by another family—and citizens must prove their worth by eliminating their Alts before their twentieth birthday. Survival means advanced schooling, a good job, marriage—life.
Fifteen-year-old West Grayer has trained as a fighter, preparing for the day when her assignment arrives and she will have one month to hunt down and kill her Alt. But then a tragic misstep shakes West’s confidence. Stricken with grief and guilt, she’s no longer certain that she’s the best version of herself, the version worthy of a future. If she is to have any chance of winning, she must stop running not only from her Alt, but also from love . . . though both have the power to destroy her.