How did CWILL BC members get their first big breaks in the publishing world? In this series of interviews with local writers and illustrators, we ask what advice they would offer and what mistakes they would never repeat — an inside look at the publishing process, from the creators’ point of view. Please feel free to tell your own publishing tales in the comments section below.
What was your first book?
My first was a picture book — No Such Thing As Far Away with Orca Book Publishers, where I worked with the wonderful Ann Featherstone. That was exciting, but nothing topped my euphoria when I sold my first novel a few years later. I’d dreamed of that moment since elementary school. Unfortunately, Taste of Perfection was printed and ready for distribution when Stoddart went bankrupt. Fortunately, Fitzhenry & Whiteside took it on. It was a rude – but realistic – start to my career.
Do you have a favourite publishing moment? A career highlight?
Career highlights include winning the Kobzar Literary Award for Lesia’s Dream and being shortlisted for a number of other awards. But as much as I’m grateful for those moments, a true career highlight was standing in front of 200 high school students in Montreal and talking about Finding Cassidy. Virtually all of them had read the book, some loved it, some had criticisms and questions. It was amazing and humbling to think I’d created a world that had touched them in some way. It was a milestone moment for me.
What advice would you give an emerging writer?
Turn off the censor and write. Be open to feedback but be discerning at the same time. Don’t wait for the muse to visit; write regularly.
How did you handle early rejections?
I hated them. I still hate them. Who likes being rejected? It still happens too. But I’ve learned (mostly) to be slightly more detached about it. And to keep going — to keep submitting, to continue stretching myself as a writer. Rejection is no reason to stop.
What project are you most excited about now?
I’m in that delicious ‘what if’ brainstorming stage of a new novel, which is a great place to hang out! But I’ve also just signed a contract with Penguin/Razorbill for a contemporary YA they’re bringing out in 2014 so I’m excited to start edits on that. And I just handed in Flavor of the Week to Orca for their Limelights series… and that was another fun thing to do!