I’m so excited to bring you an interview from one of my favourite Twitter people.
Not only is she lovely and helpful, she’s also an amazingly talented writer whose book ONE is releasing next Tuesday. Yes, in ONE week 😉
Enjoy the interview and make sure to enter the giveaway at the end, because this book is WORTH it!
Hi Leigh Ann, Thank you for agreeing to answer lots of questions 🙂
It’s absolutely my pleasure, and an honor to chat with you!
So, I had the privilege of reading your entries into a couple of competitions last year. Can you let us in on your inspiration for ONE?
Of course! I’ve always been in love with everything superheroes, since I was a little girl watching X-men cartoons on Saturday mornings. More than their actual abilities, though, I loved the affect those abilities had on their characters, and their interactions with each other and with society. (I actually did a post on why I think superpowers are a great allegory for adolescence here: http://leaguewriters.blogspot.com/2013/05/why-superheroes-are-awesome-allegory.html)
Anyway, I have a bit of an obsessive personality (understatement) so of course I got to thinking A LOT about the minutiae of superpowers, and realized that most of them were made up of more than one component – super strength and indestructability, the power of flight and the ability to breathe thin air. So, what would happen if a person only had one-half of an ability? The idea’s been with me a long time.
Do you have a favorite, non-spoilerish passage in the book? If so, would you please share it?
Oh, thank you! I like this one:
“They don’t matter,” Elias says, staring at his hands, his fingers gripping each other. “I learned that a long time ago.”
Suddenly, I’m angry at his passivity, like I want to shake him by the shoulders and scream some sense into him. He’s a One. He’s a freak. He should be suffering just as much as I am.
“Yeah? Well, if your One doesn’t matter and they don’t matter, what does matter?” I clench and unclench my jaw over and over again, wavering between feeling bad about saying that to him and feeling powerful for finally unleashing this on anyone besides my poor parents.
He doesn’t respond right away. Oh, God, he must hate me. But then he speaks, and his voice is soft and patient. “There’s something beyond Superior and the Hub, Merrin. Someplace where no one expects anything from me. From people like us. Somewhere I could be myself, without the One and without the stupid school and basketball team. Those are just things I’m using to get by. Leni…she really fits in there at Nelson. But I don’t.”
“Somewhere you can be just like a Normal, you mean. But your One will never leave you.” The words come spilling out, like I couldn’t stop them if I tried. Still, I don’t look at him, focusing instead on twisting a long blade of grass into a knot over and over. “You can always leave Superior, leave other Supers, but you’ll always be half like them.” I can’t keep my voice low and measured like he can. “You’ll always be doing…whatever it is you can do…and wondering if there’s more. Don’t tell me you would ever give it up, that you’d give up practicing whatever your One is. We’re meant for more than Normal life.”
A smile teases at his lips, like he wants to tell me about his One but knows there’s no point. Like he doesn’t even care whether I know or not. And because of that, I really do want to know. Finally.
I can’t stop my legs from fidgeting. They bounce up and down, making my skirt swing against my calves. But I can’t make myself leave him. Even though he makes me feel like screaming at him and sobbing into his shoulder at the same time.
A few lone fireflies flit around a bit too early. The top three-quarters of the sky are only slightly dark. I reach out to swipe one from the air and watch as it staggers across the back of my hand, testing its legs after a stretch of flight.
I wish walking felt more foreign to me than flying.
Now, I know you snagged an agent with this awesome premise. What were some of the factors that made you decide to self-publish ONE?
Well, it was pretty simple, actually. My agent submitted the manuscript to a bunch of editors in NYC. They all asked for the full read, and they all rejected it. Their rejections praised the concept and the writing but cited different reasons that they just couldn’t take it on – some thought Merrin’s voice was too strong, others thought it wasn’t strong enough; some loved the sci-fi elements, others hated them; some thought it would be a tough fit on bookshelves, and others had titles that were too similar.
At the same time, I’d watched Trisha Leigh publishing her “The Last Year” series, and doing it in a way that was indistinguishable from a Big Six-published book. I was really impressed, and thought I’d be perfectly happy with ONE being published like that.
So after lots of tears, stress, and reassurances from my dozens of early readers that the story was worth publishing, I made the call.
I love the way you’ve gone about preparing for launch on JUNE 11. The cover is gorgeous, you’re building a following before release. How did you come up with this method of promotion?
Oh, thank you! I’d had a pretty decent platform just because of all the writer’s communities I’d been involved in – blogs, the contest circuit, etc. It sort of blossomed from there. I’m actually amazed by how many people came out of the woodwork to support me. When my assistant, John Hansen, suggested we start a Street Team, I was nervous about being able to fill it, but I was lucky to get an enthusiastic response.
Then, I just followed some advice I’d heard from Trisha Leigh – “Never say no.” Any opportunity to guest post, be interviewed, or join a group blog, take it. So I’ve been doing my best to be everywhere possible, doing giveaways, making connections, helping fill blog spaces. It’s been fun!
The comic teasers were a fun idea I had when I realized I was getting bored of reading text teasers. I’m lucky that I wrote a superhero novel, and that I have a friend (Chessie Zappia) who’s a gifted artist.
I do have to ask – can you give a brief run through of obtaining that gorgeous cover? (Can you tell I’m obsessed with this cover?)
Aw, thank you! I contacted Nathalia Suellen after seeing some of her gorgeous work (SPLINTERED, SHADOW and BONE, and “The Last Year” series) and hearing that she was available for freelance work.
She asked me for a blurb, description of the characters, any visions I had for the cover (I told her “a girl floating”) and whether I had any other images, colors, or symbols that were important to me.
Then, she emailed me a selection of cover models. They were all wrong, but one had the right head and the other had the right body. Nathalia combined them, did her magic with the background, and we had a cover! She’s really a genius, so I just tried to step back and let her work.
About how much time have you had to commit to promotion of ONE?
Uhhhhh….a few hours a week, at least, for the last six months. At least. The month surrounding release will be much, much more, though.
I know the book hasn’t been released yet, but overall I’ve only seen and heard good things. Do you feel like you’ve done everything you could have in preparation for release?
Absolutely. In fact, I tried very hard to plan promo so that it was right in that sweet spot between not being enough and being total overkill.
Okay – now I have one six month old. How the hell do you manage to accomplish so much with four kids? Any tips for writing mothers?
Uhhh…well, I think we saw on Twitter today that I really don’t handle it too well. LOL. (referencing a pretty epic breakdown today where I said I quit bothering trying to teach my kids manners and respect, etc. And then locked myself in a room with the baby for an hour and let the oldest three fend for themselves in the living room.)
Honestly, I think it’s a combination of a few things. Writing is what keeps me sane, so it’s like I either do it or my spirit dies. Honestly. I commit to getting up early in the morning to have a little quiet time (I wake up at 4:00, the kids wake at 5:30 if I’m lucky) and I write very, very quickly. NaNoWriMo is normal speed for me.
Last, I kind of don’t do housework anymore. Or cook. Or sleep enough. Or iron my hair. Or work out like I should. Or…a lot of things.
Now – stranded on a desert island and you can only bring one book (not an ereader) which book is it?
Coffee or tea?
COFFEE. I got a Keurig for Mother’s Day and it’s the best gift I’ve ever gotten. Ever. Ever.
Sweet or savory?
Sweet. With buttercream.
Do you have any advice for people tossing up between traditional and self-publishing methods?
Your method of publishing is not a philosophy or a way of life. Or a belief system. It’s what is best for you and your book at that particular time. Each book is different, and you will have different goals for each one. Take it one book at a time.
Thank you so much for agreeing to be grilled. I’m so excited about the launch next week and wish you amazing success.
Thank you so much! I’m so excited to be here, and truly honored that you invited me. You’re the best.
And now! For the giveaway.
Not only do we have an eArc to give away but the lucky winner will get a signed set of comic cards signed not only by Leigh Ann, but by her artist too!
What are you waiting for? ENTER NOW 😀 I’ll announce the winner next Tuesday when ONE is officially released!