“Comparison is the thief of joy.” I love this line from today’s W.O.W. interview with author, Robin Reul. As writers, it’s easy to get caught up in what’s happening in other authors’ lives. To get down when a friend’s book sells and yours does not. To be frustrated when they finish a new draft and you’re struggling to finish a chapter. The key, as Robin points out, is to keep writing, focus on your own path, and tell the story you were meant to tell.
Many thanks to Robin for sharing her writing odyssey today…
Amy: What inspires you to write Young Adult Fiction?
Robin: I think that when one is a teenager, it’s really easy to feel like an island, that no one really gets you or what you’re going through, or your particular brand of crazy. I can tell you I certainly felt like that. My teenage years were tumultuous, filled with lots of mistakes, heartbreak, loss and self-doubt. Teenagers feel so deeply, that every setback or flaw can feel like the end of the world, and a great book can instill hope. I love writing for this age group because it is such an ‘on the verge’ time of life, where anything is possible, and the world hasn’t landed at your feet yet. You’re not who you were and you’re not even close to figuring out who you want to be. I think, in many ways, growing up is overrated, so a part of me enjoys a good excuse to continue to hang out in that world.
Amy: How many manuscripts had you completed prior to MY KIND OF CRAZY?
Robin: My Kind Of Crazy is actually my third completed manuscript. I guess the third time really is a charm.
Amy: Are you one of those people who has an easy time writing a query or does it take several tries before you land on the one you want to send?
Robin: I LOVE writing a query, said no one ever, especially me. I have a lot of difficulty boiling down a whole book into two concise paragraphs, so it definitely takes me several tries and much feedback before I feel like I can articulate things properly. It’s a lot of pressure, and often involves caffeine and cupcake abuse to get through it. It does seem to get easier the further along I go, because there is a formula to it, but I’m still not there with being able to just pop it out on the first try. #lifegoals
Amy: Did you receive instantaneous response or did you have to wait for requests/rejections?
Robin: My book went on submission in November of 2014 and sold in February of 2015. In the publishing world, that really isn’t a long time, but in a writer’s world, it feels like a good quarter of a century. The fact that the holidays were smack dab in the middle probably didn’t help speed up the process, but overall we had a lot of interest. The no’s always come first, but that’s not entirely a bad thing, because with them usually comes feedback and an opportunity to make changes before going out wider. But fortunately, all it takes is one yes.
Amy: What was your “call” like with your agent, Leigh Feldman? How did you know she was a good fit for you?
Robin: I was super nervous. Leigh had been my dream agent for some time, and it was the second book of mine she had considered. My friend Jessi Kirby had referred me to her, and I was elated when she agreed to take a look at My Kind Of Crazy (back then titled Rebel Without A Clue.) She sent me an email asking if we could talk the next day and I knew she was probably going to offer. My hands were literally shaking when the phone rang. We immediately clicked – had very similar personalities – and I knew right away that she was, without question, the right person for me to partner with on this crazy publishing journey. She really understood the characters, the story, and she was funny, smart and knew exactly who would love to read this book. I completely trust her instincts. I feel really lucky to be working with her.
Amy: Was there ever a time you thought about giving up on your writing dream? If so, what motivated you to keep writing?
Robin: Um, yes, about five gazillion times. Like as in when the rejection letters became plentiful enough that I could wallpaper a small bathroom. But publishing rarely works on the same timetable as the script in our heads tells us it should. Everybody wants to be the overnight success with a pre-empt, six-figure sale and movie deal. It happens, just not to most of us. When I was younger my grandmother Lillian used to always tell me, “The delay is never the denial.” It’s my mantra now, because it’s so true. You have to remember that just because something doesn’t happen for you right this very minute, it doesn’t mean it never will. Just because you want it isn’t enough. You actually have to keep working at it and believe in yourself.
Amy: What advice did you get early on in your writing career that you still use today?
Robin: One of the best pieces of advice I ever received I got at a writing workshop led by my friend, fellow YA author Jessica Brody. She said end every chapter on a cliffhanger so that the reader can’t put the book down. I find this really does heighten the pacing and tension for a story, and it also forces me to know where I am going with the chapter that follows. Another is that you can’t get discouraged if your first book doesn’t sell, because you will find that even super successful authors have nine books in a drawer that will never see the light of day. You just have to keep writing. And above all, don’t write to trends. It can take up to two years from sale to shelf, so you can’t write to what is popular now. Write the story you want to tell and NEVER compare your journey to someone else’s. Comparison is the thief of joy.
(Available April 1, 2016)
Despite the best of intentions, seventeen-year old, wisecracking Hank Kirby can’t quite seem to catch a break. It’s not that he means to screw things up all the time, it just happens. A lot. Case in point: his attempt to ask out the girl he likes literally goes up in flames when he spells “Prom” in sparklers on her lawn…and nearly burns down her house.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, Peyton Breedlove, a brooding loner and budding pyromaniac, witnesses the whole thing. Much to Hank’s dismay, Peyton takes an interest in him—and his “work.” The two are thrust into an unusual friendship, but their boundaries are tested when Hank learns that Peyton is hiding some dark secrets, secrets that may change everything he thought he knew about Peyton.
Robin Reul has been writing stories since she was old enough to hold a pen. Though she grew up on movie sets and worked for years in the film and television industry, she ultimately decided to focus her attention on writing young adult novels. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, son and daughter. My Kind Of Crazy is her first novel. For more on Robin, check out her blog, or follow her on Twitter, Facebook or Goodreads.