It’s a beautiful Friday afternoon and time once again for another round of Coffee & Conversation! Joining us today is the lovely Amie Rose Rotruck, who will be our next ABC guest speaker on Wednesday, October 19, 2011 at the Mount Airy Branch Library (705 Ridge Rd. Mount Airy, MD 21771) from 7:00 to 9:00 PM. (The event is free, but please RSVP to Naomi Milliner at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Could a “good” dragon really be evil?
Witness to the kidnapping of her younger siblings’ eggs, young bronze dragon Simle has good reason to think that all humans are evil. Tatelyn, whose brother was killed by a dragon who was supposed to be good, also has good reason to distrust even metallic dragons.
But when thrown together on a mission to recover their magical powers, Tatelyn and Simle realize that they have more in common than they ever imagined.
Ever wonder how to: Improvise a wand? Capture a werewolf? Make a monster-catching net?
Why wait to be accepted into wizardry school to learn the answers? Packed with easy projects using everyday materials, this fact-filled activity book shows wannabe wizards how to craft unique creations such as their own wizard robes, play games such as vampire tag, master adventuring skills like mapping a monster-filled dungeon, and follow step-by-step instructions on how to “survive” almost any monster attack.
The fantastical fun never ends in this book that will inspire hours of imaginative play!
And while Amie is getting settled with her favorite coffeehouse beverage, (actually, she can’t stand coffeehouses–the smell of coffee makes her sick to her stomach,) but she does adore a proper English Breakfast tea with a bit of sugar and milk . . .
And her favorite snack, fresh-popped popcorn with olive oil and sea salt when she’s craving salty, chocolate when she’s craving sweet . . .
. . . let me shoot out another reminder that The Gettysburg Wyndham Hotel has agreed to extend the special SCBWI rate ($114 per night) for our Tri-Regional Conference until next Friday, October 21st. Registration for the conference continues right up to November 10th, but we wanted our attendees to get the reduced rate for the hotel, as well.
Click here for all details and online registration for the conference. The phone number to reserve a room at the Gettysburg Wyndham Hotel is 717-339-0020. Be sure to ask for the SCBWI rate, and hope to see you there!
And now that Amie is cozy in the cyber chair, let’s get to the interview! First off, when did you decide to be a writer?
Very young. I always loved reading and I liked the idea of creating my own stories. The first story I wrote is what I now realize was fanfic. My best friend in second grade and I wrote a sequel to Jim Henson’s movie “The Dark Crystal.” I started writing seriously around fifth grade and never looked back!
How long did your path to that first glorious book sale take, and what were your biggest hurdles?
My first glorious book sale began with me complaining. I’d just finished reviewing a particularly bad batch of fantasy books and I whined about it on my Livejournal (we’ve all done the “why can’t I get published when this @$#^!#$ is out there?”). A friend who I’d met at the International Association for the Fantastic in the arts read it. She was now an editor at Mirrorstone and asked me to send her some of my fantasy. I sent her a novel that I’d been working on since the fifth grade that ended up being my MA thesis for Hollins University’s Children’s Literature program. The novel wasn’t right for them, but it ended up being an “audition” to see if I would be a good fit for writing in one of Mirrorstone’s shared worlds. My editor told me that they were doing a series of dragon-centric novels set in the Dragonlance world. I’d been a fan of Dragonlance since eighth grade, so I was VERY excited to write one of the books!
I was told to read the more recent Dragonlance books for middle grade readers, pick a minor character that I liked, and construct a dragon centric story around that character. I sent in first a one page proposal, then a chapter by chapter outline, then I got the contract to write the book!
For how long, from the time I complained to when the book was published, about 2.5 years. There really weren’t any hurdles that I’d consider big, just the normal butt-in-chair, plugging along, not giving up!
Awesome! Okay, seeing how hindsight is 20/20, what advice for beginners do you wish you would have followed?
Just finish the book. The reason why my first, still unpublished book took so long to finish was I kept refining the first few chapters. Finish the book entirely, THEN start revising. If you’re taking a writing class where you have to focus on first chapters, that’s fine for one class, but don’t do the same first chapters again in another class until you’ve finished the book.
Where’s your favorite place to work? And, if the paparazzi were taking pictures of odd things authors do while writing, what would be in yours, hmm? (Bonus point if you share a picture.)
My office. I’ve never been a fan of going places to write. I like to be home, where I can find reference books quickly, be VERY comfortable in my chair, and look out my window at the trees in the backyard when I get bored.
Odd things? I actually used to write with the television on all the time. I’ve moved away from that, mainly because I don’t want my child to become a tv addict, but I do like having an old favorite move on as background noise.
(Amie sent me some awesome photos of her working with her adorable daughter, but I can’t get them to post for some reason! I’ll figure it out and insert them in her ABC write up.)
How were you inspired to write your current or upcoming release?
My latest book, Young Wizards Handbook: How to Trap a Zombie, Track a Vampire, and Other Hands-On Activities for Monster Hunters, was another Mirrorstone project. I was approached by another editor there about writing “Dangerous Book for Boys” meets “Dragonology.” More specifically, a monster-hunting guide with crafts, games, and activities. I JUMPED at this chance; I feel like if there ever was a book I was born to write, this was it. I love crafts and outdoor survival guides, so it was an absolute joy to combine those with a field guide to monsters.
What is your favorite line(s) from this book?
Wow, that’s tough! It means opening the book and looking, which I HATE doing after a book is published because if I find a typo or something that I wrote that I don’t like, it will BUG ME!
For favorite line, I like the description I came up for Aluminum foil. I wanted all the projects to have inexpensive, easy-to-find supplies, but aluminum foil wouldn’t exist in a medieval magical setting. So I came up with “The great weapons wizard Alum Foil has invented thin sheets of metal, so think that you can fold them like paper! This thin metal is available in wizarding supply shops and anywhere food is sold.”
Are there any other genres that you’d like to tackle some day?
In addition to reading middle grade and YA fantasy, I also like really edgy and/or funny realistic YA (Laurie Halse Anderson, John Green, Maureen Johnson, Barry Lyga) and historical fiction. I’d like to tackle both of those genres at some point.
What’s next on your agenda, any juicy projects you’d like to tell us about?
I’m currently still working on marketing my MFA thesis for Hollins, a middle-grade fantasy inspired by the Unicorn Tapestries and my love of greyhounds. My latest project is a middle-grade ghost/detective story that was inspired, oddly, at a relative’s funeral when a few of the pallbearers (including my husband and cousins) nearly fell in the open grave because there was so much snow and mud around.
Time for the lightning round—no more than four words per answer!
Do you . . .
Outline or wing it? Depends on project
Talk about works-in-progress, or keep it zipped? Talk! Need the feedback!
Sell by proposal or completed draft? Done both.
Prefer writing rough drafts or editing? Rough drafts.
Dread marketing/blogging or love it? Find it annoying.
Read Kindle or traditional books? Both to excess!
And finally, what’s your favorite:
Time to work? Late afternoon/evening
Music to listen to while writing? No music. Movies on TV.
Writing tool? Fingers???
Pair of shoes? Sandals
Guiltiest pleasure? TV
Line from a movie? Pretty much any line from “Shaun of the Dead.” That is the most quotable movie ever!
Ha, great movie! And thanks, Amie, for stopping by and letting us get to know you before next week’s ABC Event. I’m looking forward to seeing you present!
Happy writing, everyone! 🙂