Q&A with the author of the upcoming YA novel, Foresight. Check the bottom of this post for details on how to enter to win a $15 Barnes & Noble gift card and a prize pack filled with Foresight goodies!
You have a great description of the theme of your novel, Foresight, on your website, http://sdficklin.books.officelive.com/default.aspx, that I’m going to paste here, and I had a follow-up question that I’m including after your website answer.
Q&A from your website: What do you think is the strongest theme, the most prevalent theme of Foresight?
The basic idea is that sometimes you may think you have everything figured out. That’s usually when it all goes to pot. Life isn’t about following plans; it’s about going where the road takes you, making the best choices you can, and enjoying the journey. Because you never know when something really magical is going to happen.
Follow-up: Can you give a brief description of the characters and/or plot of Foresight and a little bit about the meaning of the title?
Foresight was inspired by a version of the Pandora myth that suggests that it was not hope captured in that box, but actually something much more sinister.
If you knew when you woke up that your day would go badly, would you want to live it at all?
Foresight means not giving up, even when you think you can’t win. Grace has the ability to see glimpses of possible futures. She goes into the story knowing exactly what she stands to lose, but with the courage to do what’s right anyway. That’s who Grace is.
The other main characters are Phoenix, Chris, and Lilith.
Phoenix is sort of the leader of the group. She’s practical to a fault, but also very mothering. She stepped into the role of raising Grace and has a really strong bond with her. Phoenix would kill, die, to keep Grace safe. Without hesitation. She’s every bit a fighter, which is where Grace gets it.
Chris comes across sort of arrogant, but a lot of that is just a show. He has a connection with Grace that neither of them really understands and it keeps them very off balance with each other. Chris pulls her to him with one hand and pushes her away with the other, not to deliberately mislead her, but because he just can’t reconcile his own feelings. But he really is one of the good guys.
Lilith is the villain of the piece, though not of her own making. She was betrayed by the gods who created her and sent to a prison that would drive the sanest person to their limits. She’s strong, fierce, and is willing to do anything, use anyone, to get what she wants. To get back what was stolen from her. To her Grace is simply collateral damage. She’s the worst kind of evil, the kind who really feels justified in their actions.
I also had a lot of fun with the Greek Gods, particularly Hermes and Eros. I was able to express their personalities in ways that are both funny and honest. They get a lot of play, especially in the second and third books.
Foresight is the first in a series – I’m sure the idea of even writing a single book is overwhelming to most people, so what made you decide to write an entire series?
I knew very early on that the story was much too intricate to be just one book. As I began writing, there became characters I wanted to develop more, and things that I felt had to happen to forge Grace into the person I saw her becoming. She’s one of those great people who has to learn everything the hard way, which I think is true of most of us. The experiences she has, especially in the second book, really define her. The more I wrote, the more I had to know how it was all going to turn out in the end.
You had the misfortune of your publisher folding just months before your book was due to come out. Any news from other publishers?
Ah, maybe… There’s a few promising prospects at the moment, but I can’t say more than that. I’m feeling very good about things right now.
Do you remember the feeling you had when you realized you were done with your manuscript and you were ready to send out queries? Excitement, relief, anxiety, or something else?
I wasn’t going to send it out at all. You hear all these horror stories about trying to get published, which kind of turned me off at first. But my husband was like, you wrote it, you might as well see how far you can go with it. It was really scary, kind of putting myself out there like that. But then I started getting all this positive feedback and it was like, wow. I always said I’d be happy just to take it down to the office store and have it bound just for me, so when the first couple publishers said they liked it, I was in heaven! When I got my first contract, it was one of the best feelings ever. I’ll never forget that phone call. I almost fainted.
Here is another Q&A from your website that I really liked, so I wanted to include it here, with a follow-up question.
From your website: What process do you use to write? Do you use an outline or do you sit down and write and see where it takes you?
I try to outline, but I keep it pretty vague. My characters let me know if I’ve gone off course or tried to force them into something that doesn’t work for them. It’s seriously weird, but kind of wonderful too.
My follow-up is: Once you’ve been working on a piece for a long time, how do you step back from it and make sure it “makes sense” to other people that don’t know the characters inside and out like you do? You mention on your site about beta readers – can you explain a little bit about their input?
Most of the time I have to step away from a piece for a few days and kind of let myself forget what I was doing so I can go back and look at it with fresh eyes. If I can read or write something else during that time it helps me get out of my own head, so to speak. But my Beta readers are the best! When I think I’ve got everything right I send it over to them and they read it and put sticky notes on things that don’t make sense to them or confuse them, or if they get lost in a plot angle. They catch all my little (and big) plot holes. It’s also good to see how they are affected emotionally by the book. I rewrote the ending to Foresight four times, until it made one of my beta readers cry. That was what I wanted, that level of emotion.
You are a self-proclaimed “former military brat.” How much of an influence does that have on your writing?
Tons. The places I’ve been and the people I’ve known crop up in my writing constantly. I was just talking with a friend from high school about this earlier. She said that one of my characters reminded her of someone we used to know, and she was right. I hadn’t even realized it till she made the connection, but then it was pretty obvious. I’d tell you who it was, but then I’d have to shoot you.
Where do you do your writing (home office, from the couch, etc?) and do you use pen/paper or computer? Do you have to have a certain atmosphere to write or do you just write when you can?
It depends on when and what I’m writing. If it’s an easy day I can just sit at my home computer and bang out a couple chapters. On a hard day there’s loud music, scented candles, and I’m on the floor of my bedroom with my laptop. My husband says he can tell what sort of scene I’m writing by what music is playing, too. Most of the scenes in Faerie were written to Enya or Celtic Woman, the Lilith scenes were to Dead Can Dance or Porcupine Tree, etc. I also keep a paper journal by my bed. I can’t tell you how often plot problems resolve themselves at 2 am and I have to jot it down before I lose it. And I keep scrap books for each story. I stick stuff in them, pictures or drawings or even scraps of fabric. Things that inspire me. Then when the creative juices are running low, I can go back to that book and see and feel it again.
Last question from your website with a follow-up, I swear!
From your website: What genres do you prefer to write, to read, if they’re different, why?
I write and read primarily YA, although I do read a bit of fantasy and paranormal romance. I prefer YA because the emotions of youth are so much more raw and powerful. Plus, it feels better to write and read sweet, romantic love scenes rather than the hard core gritty stuff you get in adult novels sometimes.
My follow-up is: I know you’re a fan of the Harry Potter series – any other books that you can read again and again? Any favorite authors?
I have a pretty serious book habit, easily over 100 dollars a month. You might wonder why I don’t just give my library card more of a work out, but the truth is, I re-read ALL my books. Often. The ones I re-read most are the Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind, The Harry Potters, The Aeneid, The Oddessy, and anything by Laurell Hamilton. My recent faves are Bran Hambric, the Percy Jackson books, and anything by Rachael Caine. As a matter of fact, I’ve only ever read one book I hated. And I’ve read a LOT of books. I hated it so much I threw it away, which is practically a cardinal sin in my house.
You and I share something in common – we were both influenced by our creative writing teacher, Ms. Fristoe. Can you explain a little about the influence she had on you as a writer? Any other people who have influenced your writing career? I hear it was your husband who suggested you write a book…
I remember going to this poetry slam when I was like 16. Now, keep in mind my poetry was just awful. She encouraged me to go up and read it, then gave me a standing ovation. It was the same in class. No matter how bad it was, she always told me I could do it. I could do anything. And when she said that, I believed her. She always made me feel like what I had to say was important.
As far as my husband, he was just tired of me writing fan fiction for other people’s books! He said if I was going to write, I should write something of my own. Honestly, I wasn’t sure I could, but as soon as I started, the story just flowed out. It was like magic. Of course, he takes all the credit now. Typical.
I know we all did it in high school, so I have to ask – do you still like to write poetry?
Cringe! No, my days of flowery prose are long behind me, thank goodness. I can whip up the occasional limerick, though.
There once was a girl from Nantucket…
Finally, the big broad question – when you were a kid, did you ever think you’d grow up to be a writer?
Actually, I always thought I’d grow up to be a detective, like Nancy Drew. I was always spying on people and trying to solve little ‘mysteries’ around the house. One day it led to me finding a stack of inappropriate reading materials under my uncle’s bed, lol. But I was always a reader, since I was 3 years old. I think readers make the best writers because we write what we want to read!
HOW TO ENTER TO WIN THE GIVEAWAY: $15 Barnes & Noble gift card + Foresight prize pack
Contest is open from Thursday, January 21, 2010-Wednesday, January 27, 2010.
Two ways to enter:
Comment on this post. Send a “hello” to Sherry or just a “books are cool,” whatever you’d like, but you are only entered ONCE, regardless of how many times you comment. P.S. Please try to keep it clean, because if it’s too random or offensive, it’ll get marked as spam and when I go to pick a winner, I’m only going with the comments I can see.
If you subscribe to this blog, you will be entered ONCE. You have to subscribe during the contest period for it to count.
If you comment AND subscribe to this blog, you will be entered TWICE. You have to subscribe during the contest period for it to count.
I will notify the winner BY EMAIL (I (and only I) see your email when you post or subscribe, so please don’t post it in your comment).
Contest is over on Wednesday, so if you win, you’ll see an email from me (Jennifer) on Thursday or Friday with the subject line: You have won the Foresight giveaway!
The goodies will be snail mailed to you. Don’t worry, no one, other than me and the author, will ever see your address.
This is how I’m going to pick a winner. It’s a bit old-fashioned, but it seems the most fair:
I will take all the names and enter them in a Word doc (your name is there once if you’ve been entered once, twice if you’ve been entered twice). I will print out the list, cut up the names, stick them in a hat and pull one out. If I pull your name out, you are the winner.
Any questions, just ask!