Frequently Asked Questions
This may be my most frequently asked question, and I always want to say more than I’m able to with each person who asks, so I’ll try to be as helpful as I can here.
- Every writer proceeds at their own pace, in their own way. Don’t worry if you are “ahead” or “behind” a writer friend, or feel down when someone else gets that agent or that big book deal. It took me four failed manuscripts and twelve years of practice before I wrote Legend. The only person you need to compare yourself to is you.
- You can’t perfect something that doesn’t exist. Let yourself write a bad first draft. Mine always are! Once you have a completed manuscript down, then you can go back and rip it up, take chapters out, add chapters in, fix your characters, and so on. But you can’t work with something that isn’t there. Finish first, then worry about perfecting it.
- Consume everything and experience life. I’m constantly surprised by the number of people I meet who want to be professional writers but don’t read. How is that even possible? In order to become a great writer, you must be a reader. Study other forms of story, too—movies, TV, art, music, video games, fashion (yes, fashion!), everything. Learn from the work of other creators. Travel if you can. It all goes into your creative well.
- Ready to submit to agents and learn about the publishing industry? Here are some great resources for how the business part of this craft works:
- Pub Rants: this is the publishing blog of my literary agent, Kristin Nelson (Nelson Literary Agency). When I was an aspiring writer, I followed her blog closely and absorbed everything I could. Kristin is so informative and comprehensive in the way she discusses submissions, the industry, what she loves (and dislikes) in submissions, and everything in between.
- Publisher’s Marketplace: although this site requires a subscription, it’s a good place to find comprehensive lists of reputable literary agents who represent the genre(s) you write.
- Publisher’s Weekly: this is the main industry publication, and it’s full of insight.
Every time I meet a young aspiring writer, I’m reminded of myself as a teen. I wish all of you the best of luck, from the bottom of my heart—and I hope to see your work on future bookshelves!
This goes back to one of my answers under advice for aspiring writers. Most of my ideas emerge from something I read, saw, heard, or experienced—sometimes it’s just a little fragment, sometimes a whole plot idea. Legend, for example, was inspired one afternoon while I watched the movie version of Les Miserables on TV. I remember thinking: wouldn’t it be fun to tell a teenage version of the criminal vs. detective story? The Young Elites was inspired by my love for villains and wanting to write a Darth Vader-esque villain who was a teenage girl. And Warcross, my latest book (out Sept. 12), was inspired by a bit of worldbuilding from Legend, about a world where everything revolves around games.
Although I have no plans right now to continue Legend’s story, it doesn’t mean I’ll never again write anything set in the same world. I might write a short story that adds a little something to the end of Champion!
I don’t have a public email address, but you can find me hanging out most frequently on Instagram and Twitter, as well as Tumblr and Pinterest! I love hearing from you all, and even though I’m unable to respond to everyone, please know how much you guys brighten my days with every single one of your messages.
Currently, The Young Elites is under option with 20th Century Fox and Temple Hill Productions, and we have a script that we really like. Fingers crossed that we can move it forward, because I’d really love to share this story with you all on the big screen!
Legend is not under option right now, but you never know! I actually think it’d be so fun as a TV show, considering how interesting the TV landscape currently is.
My next book, Warcross, is the first book in a new series, and comes out on September 12, 2017! I’m pretty excited about this one, so I hope you’ll enjoy it. For more information on it, and/or to pre-order it, go here. There are some pretty great pre-order gifts that will come with it, I’m just sayin.
I wish I could, but legally, I’m not allowed to! However, I do encourage you all to find a beta reader or critique partner you can trust to give you solid, compassionate feedback. A great beta reader is worth her weight in gold!