Today is the first in (I hope!) a series of interviews with my FabulousAuthorFriends. My first interview is with fellow 2k9er, Sydney Salter.
Sydney's recently released debut young adult novel is MY BIG NOSE AND OTHER NATURAL DISASTERS. I'm not sure if she actually sleeps, because her middle-grade novel, JUNGLE CROSSING, will be on the shelves in September!
I actually caught up with Sydney (virtually!) on the ferry as she was traveling to Lopez Island. And yes, she was writing on that ferry ride...
Me: I fell in love with your main character, Jory, from page one. Is she based on anyone in real life?
Sydney: While Jory is completely her own unique self, I did give her my biggest insecurity from my high school years (I hated my nose!). Some of the things Jory does with her friends are things I did with my friends during my Reno High years. And, yeah, I did wreck a delivery van and a wedding cake on the same day. Except I'd only had the job for four days!
Me: Do you have a special writing place?
Sydney: I work at a messy table in my living room, overlooking my bookshelves, while gazing out at my neighbors walking their dogs. I also love to write away from home--at the bookstore, a noisy cafe, a ski lodge...Writing under deadline often means writing in creative locations. Yesterday I revised a chapter on the ferry boat to Lopez Island, Washington on my way to visit my brother's family.
Me: How do you manage your writing day?
Sydney: I race my two daughters to school, peek at a few emails, and then dig into writing or revisions until the end of the school day. If I'm working on a first draft, I aim to write about a chapter a day and I try to write seven days a week. If I'm revising, I try to work just five days a week. I also meet my writing group at our local bookstore once a week for tea, chat, and a bit of critiquing (although I don't share my work until I've completed an entire draft).
Me: Do you remember the first story you wrote?
Sydney: My mother saved My Fish Book, a nonfiction picture book I created as a child, but I really don't have other early stories. I still cringe at the awful story I wrote in a creative writing class after college about professional football-playing brothers. Shudder!
Me: What is one book that you hope your own children will read?
Sydney: I always resisted my mother's reading suggestions, so I've been reluctant to recommend books to my own daughters. I just want them to love reading! I do try to read books that they love so we can talk about them together. And we have a large selection of books to choose from...I rarely say no to adding a book to our collection.
Me: Do you have a mentor?
Sydney: Oh, wouldn't that be so nice? I have friends who have been with me since the beginning when our writing group met in the bookstore's children's section so our preschoolers could play (we've now happily graduated to the cafe area). Every few weeks I meet another group of writers for dinner. My agent also gives me a lot of support, and my editor makes herself available, too. And, of course, I have my online friends from the Class of 2k9!
Me: I love hearing stories about "The Call". Can you tell us what that was like?
Sydney: My agent called me while I was in the airport waiting to board my flight to the SCBWI Conference in LA. I loved sharing my good news with so many writers! My husband flew out for the weekend and met me in the hotel bar with champagne.
Me: Can you describe your works-in-progress?
Sydney: Right now I'm revising another humorous YA called SWOON AT YOUR OWN RISK. It's about a girl who has broken up with five boyfriends over the past year, so she's afraid to risk falling in love again. But, of course, there's this guy... The girl also has to deal with the repercussions of having her grandmother, a famous advice-columnist, move in with the family for the summer. If all goes well, it should hit the shelves in 2010.
Me: You have a second book coming out soon. Is it anything like MY BIG NOSE?
Sydney: My second book is a middle-grade novel called JUNGLE CROSSING. It's a coming of age story about a thirteen-year-old girl who reluctantly travels to Mexico with her family on vacation, intertwined with an ancient Mayan story about a royal girl who is stolen, enslaved, and must find her way back home. Both books share a sense of humor and themes about family relationships.
Many thanks to Sydney Salter for stopping by The Backstory. So drop by your local bookstore and ask for MY BIG NOSE AND OTHER NATURAL DISASTERS. I think you will be drawn in, just as I was, by her great voice and sense of humor.