Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Uninvited by Amanda Marrone

Marlene P.: Do you remember writing the first words? Are they still the same?

Amanda Marrone: I do remember it. I was working on a middle grade and all of a sudden I got the idea for Uninvited. I opened a new file, and my fingers flew on the keyboard. Most of the first chapter is exactly the same as it was when I first wrote it. I get an idea and bang out a first chapter in a couple of hours. Then I take a month or so to figure out what happens next! The same thing happened with my second book, Revealers, due out next year. I wrote the first chapter, and then dwelled on it a bit to figure out what happens next.

Marlene P.: What is the hardest part of writing for you?

Amanda Marrone: Opening the file everyday. I have Inattentive ADD and I get easily sidetracked—the Internet has been very bad for my writing. Luckily deadlines are a huge motivator—give me one and I can sit and write.

Marlene P.: What are you working on now?

Amanda Marrone: I just sent Revealers to my editor a few days ago—the first chapter is in the back of Uninvited. It’s about five teen witches who hunt vamps, werewolves, and demons as sort of a public service—but they discover their coven in hiding a secret worse than any of the creatures they hunt. Next up I’m revising a middle grade for my agent, while working on a new paranormal YA and a picture book!

Marlene P.: What kind of research did you have to do for this story?

Amanda Marrone: I researched vampire facts—I was always a vampire lover, but I wanted to dig deeper. I found some fun things I didn’t know—you can kill a vampire by immersing it in water, or hire a Bulgarian sorcerer to do it for you!

Marlene P.: How did you become a writer?

Amanda Marrone: I always wanted to be a writer, but I didn’t actually start until I was 29 years old! I have a screwy pencil grip and writing was always painful, and tedious. Once I learned keyboarding I was set. I started out with picture books—I wrote and illustrated two, got some nice personal rejections, and the third picture book turned into a novel. I fell in love with writing longer stories, and I always said I’d never go back, so this new picture book idea that just popped up was a surprise.

Marlene P.: What is your favorite line, passage, or chapter from this book?

Amanda Marrone: Probably the end of the first chapter—it shows how conflicted Jordan is about Michael.

But the leaves are falling and soon Michael will sit on bare branches. Moonlight will finally find its way to his face and I’ll see what I know is true: that Michael is a monster. I’m just afraid that one of these nights I might let him in.

Marlene P.: Was there any part that you struggled with or avoided writing?

Amanda Marrone: I struggled with chapter two! I avoided writing it for six months! That seems to be the way I work, but I’ve decided it’s because I need to think about where I’m going with a story after the first chapter was written in such a frenzy. I’m hoping to be a little speedier with my new YA and tackle chapter two in a more timely fashion!
Marlene P.:What’s on your nightstand right now?

Amanda Marrone: Jo Knowles’ Lesson from a Dead Girl. It’s a haunting story about abuse—beautifully written.

Marlene P.: What are your hobbies?

Amanda Marrone: I love to draw, read, study insects—I have hissing cockroaches, and I love to hike.

Marlene P.: Have you ever wanted to quit writing? Why?

Amanda Marrone: I’ve never wanted to quit, but I have gotten discouraged in the past. Finding an editor seemed like such a needle in the haystack scenario—I actually only sent my story out to two editors I’d heard speak at conferences. Luckily, I got an agent and she took over with the matchmaking.

Marlene P.: What’s your favorite Halloween candy?

Amanda Marrone: Hershey’s special dark miniatures.

Marlene P.: What scares you?

Amanda Marrone: The basement after I’ve been watching something spooky like Supernatural, and mean girls.

~~~Cafe Note~~ As a regular part of our interviews, featured authors will pop back in for one week after their interview is posted to answer any other questions blog readers may leave for them. So if you have any questions or comments for Amanda, post them in the comments. She'd love to hear from you!

40 comments:

Jo Knowles said...

Hi Amanda!
Do you belong to a writing group online or in person? And if so, how does it work?
:-)

Jo

AmandaMarrone said...

Hi Jo,

I belong to a fabulous in person group, and I have a lj friend who I exchange work with. Both were invaluable last month-they read and critiqued over a hundred pages of my new book Revealers as I was writing them.

brian_ohio said...

Hey Amanda.

Nice interview. And I loved the passage you mentioned was your favorite.

Did you ever question the age of your protagonist in Uninvited? Too old, too young? Did anyone ask you to change?

And do you prefer the 1st POV as to third? Do you find one easier or more fun to write than the other?

AmandaMarrone said...

Hi Brian,

Jordon's age was always the same--she's got a lot of, um, experience under her belt so I think she's the right age. My editor didn't mention her age at all when she gave me her revision suggestions.

I like writing in first person the best--I like feeling like I'm in my character's head--seeing things as she's seeing them. I enjoy reading third though.

alanajoli said...

Hi Amanda!
Ah, the internet, bane of our existence. (In fact, it's distracting me from my deadines right now...)

How does one go about hiring a Bulgarian sorcerer?

-Alana

Heidi Ayarbe said...

How long did it take to finish the book (including revisions)? And I second the Bulgarian Sorcerer question. Are they in the yellow pages?

Sam Hranac said...

Interesting, how the openings of your books flood from you and then you need to step back to see where they will go from there. Is there an organized process for this second stage of your writing, or do you just have to open up and hope the muse cooperates?

AmandaMarrone said...

Alana--You know, I'll have to google Bulgarian sorcerers to see why they're the go to guys for vamp extermination.

Heidi--It was several years from start to finish, but there were many, many months when I wasn't writing and I was working on another story, too. In contrast, my second book Revealers was written in about four months-a day for the first chapter. A month for the next forty pages, and three months to finish the book.

Sam--with the first book--and an unpublished middle grade before it I was making it up as I was going along--with a lot of time to mull the stories over.

With Revealers I had to write a synopsis for my editor--that was tough because I never knew where my stories were going until I was at least a third of the way through. I did it--with much agonizing and even though I did end up straying from the synopsis, I had a deadline and I would just open up the file and write. I never thought I could do it so quickly--my muse was definatley there cheering me on and saying, "See! If you just open the damn file everyday the story will happen!"

Dot said...

Great interview, Amanda!

You mention deadlines as good motivation-- do you also set any kind of daily or weekly goal for yourself? So many words or pages?

debbi michiko florence said...

Fab interview! I just ordered your novel from my local indie bookstore! Can't wait to read it!

Question: What's the scariest thing about being published?

Melissa said...

Hi, Amanda!
The passages you mentioned in the interview were quite enough to convince me that Uninvited is a must-read.

Question: What kinds of revisions did you have to do on the book? Were they little things, or deeper, uprooting revisions?

AmandaMarrone said...

Debbie, The scariest thing about being published is nasty comments about my story. I've only read one--so far, everything else has been very positive, but I've seen a few pages on amazon where people get very, very mean--even personal attacks in the book forum sections.

I know not everyone will love my book--that's why we have so many different genres and categories--so there's something for everyone, but I still wonder why people get so angry with their comments at time?

AmandaMarrone said...

Hi Melissa,

I didn't get the typical single spaced revisionletter--my editor sent me my manuscript with her thoughts in the margins and such.

Most of my revisions up until chapter 12 were little, quick things. Then at the end of chapter 12 it said, "This chapter needs work". My heart sunk. My editor mentioned three big issues to address and it was tough going for a week or so--I ended up breaking the chapter up into two and changed a lot! After that it got easy again--there were some big changes, but they came naturally. The climax was different, and now the mc takes a much more active role--which I think works much better.

After the first round I only had to make a couple of minor tweeks and we were done.

AmandaMarrone said...

Dot I answered your question, but it seems to be lost.

But deadlines I set for myself are not nearly as motivating as those set by my editor. Knowing I had to revise Uninvited in four weeks was VERY motivating. Knowing I had to have Revealers in by the first weeks of October--after a summer with a new puppy and whiny kids--well, it's amazing how much I wrote in those last six weeks! I was really nervous about what my editor would say about Revealers because it was written so quickly, but it got two thumbs up! Phew!!

Carrie Jones said...

Amanda, I am so excited about your book, amazingly fangirl kind of excited.

What I really would like to know is why do you love vampires. You say that your vampire love has been there a long time, but what is it about them that gets to you?

Anonymous said...

Hi Amanda!

Congratulations on UNINVITED! I'm looking forward to reading it.

Okay, if your book had a soundtrack, what songs would you include?

Laura Bowers
(who forgot her google name and had to be anonymous!)

AmandaMarrone said...

Hi Laura,

I can't remember my password, so I'm going anonymously.

Soundtrack, eh? Hmmm. You know, whenever author's post the list of music they listened to when they write, I'm so envious because I can't listen to music and write--my ADD keeps me from being able to concentrate on my writing. I've tried a few times and my head gets scrambled! So, I never made that leap to give my book a soundtrack, because writing and music and me don't mix.

Hmmm.

OK, if I had to pick music to go with the book I'd pick the Into the Woods Sountrack.(yes, go ahead and roll your eyes all of you Broadway haters!! :>)

Anyway, Into the Woods is a dark musical where the characters all have a lot of things they wish for--a lot of obstacles keeping them from making their wishes come true, and those characters who make it to the curtain call 'alive' got there by really looking at themselves and making a decision to change. No one comes out unscathed or untouched by horrors that befall some of the characters--and the ending, while hopeful, doesn't wrap everything up in a "happy ever after".

I mention the show in my final chapter--

Amanda

AmandaMarrone said...

Hi Carrie,

I think I loved the fact that even though vampires are really monsters, they have the ability to completey enthrall someone. No one would get all drooly over a werewolf or a zombie--well unless you were another werewolf--but once a vamp casts that undead mojo on someone they want want nothing more than to be with them--it's the ultimate sex appeal.

Melodye said...

Hi Amanda,

I love reading about your writerly life -- I'm inspired by your successes!

Can you please relive for us your experience in getting The Call (from your agent, as well as the publisher who acquired your books)?

robinellen said...

What's your favorite part of revision? what part do you wish you could do without?

Karen said...

Hi Amanda,

What sort of atmosphere do you find most helpful when you're writing. Complete silence; the background noise of a cafe; listening to music; or...? Any writing rituals, or can you just write anywhere depending on circumstances?

Thanks!
Karen

wuggie norple said...

Hi Amanda,
Great interview! Your book is on my TBR stack!
From my thumb-through preview :o) I see that Uninvited is written primarily in present tense. Do you prefer this tense, or did it just seem right for this book? How do you choose what tense to write in?
Pam

AmandaMarrone said...

Hi Melodye,

My 'call' actually started with an email. I had taken Lauren Barnholdt's YA Chicklit class over the summer and queried her agent. Nadia asked for a partial and the a full. My husband called me over to the computer one night and said "did you see this?"

Melodye said...

Oh, I remember your telling us that story. How about what happened between the offer of representation from Nadia and the day/time you got The Call from your editor, if I can be so greedy as to ask another question? Thanks, Amanda -- great interview!

AmandaMarrone said...

Hi Robin,

My favorite part of revisions is the easy stuff--quick fixes. Actually, I like doing revisions-for the most part--I like making the story better, and I like the fact that the story is done! Getting the actual story down is more stressful than polishing it!

It is definately easier for me if someone tells me exactly what to fix--like "this scene doesn't work because of x, y and z"--I can always come up with a different way to make the scene work. Generaly critiques "This chapter needs work" are harder for me.

AmandaMarrone said...

Hi Karen,

I like things quiet--I can toon out the tv if it's not something I want to watch--like football, but music kills the story for me--I get too wrapped up in it.

I don't have any rituals--usually if I can manage to open the file I can write. Getting the file open can be hard some days if the internet is calling.

AmandaMarrone said...

Hi Wuggie,

I like present because I feel like I'm seeing the story unfold through the character's eyes--I like the limited perspective. I do enjoy reading stories in different tenses, but I like first best.

KarenLK said...

Hi, Amanda! Great interview. My questions: do you outline? If so, before, after, or during the writing process? How closely do you follow your original plot vs. veering onto new tangents? Thanks!

KarenLK said...

Whoops, forgot to sign that comment.

Karen Kincy
(different from the previous one) :)

Melinda said...

Hey Amanda!

How do you keep yourself on schedule when you don't have a deadline breathing down your neck? I have this distraction problem too ... mostly I do a lot of dithering. Also looking for Bollywood videos on YouTube.

Glad to hear the next book is in the works!

Melinda (aka Rosefiend).

AmandaMarrone said...

Hi Karen K,

For Uninvited I didn't outline--I didn't even know where the story was going until I was a good eighty pages into it. For Revealers I had to write a synopsis--it was torture and I almost gave up and wrote the whole book--but it's a good thing I didn't. Once I finished the synopsis my editor had a few things she didn't like in it. Had I written the whole thing I would have had some major rewrites ahead of me, or my editor might have passed on the book. As it is, I wrote 50 pages and then we hashed out some plot points in the synopsis before she bought it. (apparently teens sleeping with demons is not a great YA concept--who knew? ;>).

I stuck fairly close to the synopsis until the last five chapters went in a different direction. I was pretty nervous handing it in to my editor, but she loved it. I suspect they know things may evolve when the story is written--and it's not like I went completely crazy with it--adding giant, talking cockroaches for the witches to defeat, and there were so many cool things that popped up as I was writing that weren't in the synopsis. Revealers was a really fun book to write.

AmandaMarrone said...

Hi Melinda,

Keeping myself on schedule without a deadline is tough! I was hoping I would continue to use my 'deadline' schedule for my new stuff, but it's not happening. I think this week I'm going to have to cut off internet fun again--before I discovered lj, verla's and such I was very productive, so I know sometimes I just have to take a break. What I usually mean by break is--read, but don't respond, that way I can still feel like I'm in the loop, but I'm not waiting for responses to my comments and such and I can stick to my word file.

I really envy the multi-taskers that can keep up online and get work done. I need to take breaks.

ipgirl said...

Hi Amanda,

I liked your story of how, right in the middle of working on an MG, you thought of an idea for a much better one. Was it hard knowing to follow that idea instead of your original novel?
Do you recommend taking a novel writing class?

AmandaMarrone said...

Hi IpGirl,

I wrote the first chapter right away, and once I did that I was able to get back to my other story. I've got several 'first chapters' written in the same fashion--some I'll go back to, others will never have their stories finished.

As for writing classes
Do you recommend taking a novel writing class?

Before signing up for any class I would make sure you know exactly what the course will cover so you know if it's worth your time and money. Some classes are geared for newbies--others for more experienced writers. If you're able, it's good to know if you gell with the instructor--someone teaching a chicklit class might not give you good feedback if you're writing fantasies.

blackroze37 said...

My daughter and myself both LOVED this book!!! I highly think it would be a great read to all, teens and adults,, plsu my daughter loaded hers out and so far ,all the teens at her school loves it

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Anonymous said...

Hi Amanda,
I just picked up your book "Uninvited" at Barnes and Noble for our Middle School Library. I started reading it last night and found it to be a great page turner. Do you think it's appropriate for middle schoolers if it is marked in our Y.A section?
Congrats on the book!
-Regina
Whittier, CA.

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