Michelle Madow is a super-talented writer with a great agent. She is most definitely a Someday Famous YA Author, and here is her interview, Q&A style:
Q: How old were you when you began writing?
A: I've been writing forever! (It seems like most writers say that, but it's totally true). When I was seven I was the kid in second grade who wrote ten page stories on free-journal day and insisted on reading them to the class. In high school (when we had to start thinking of "real" career paths), I stopped writing for fun, although I always took two English courses each semester. I majored in English during college, and decided to take my writing to the next level by trying to complete a novel during my junior year.
Q: What prompted you?
A: In my junior year of college I signed up to take "Intro to Creative Writing." I rarely showed my creative pieces to anyone, but the first assignment in this class was to write something 1,000 words or shorter to share with the class. It could be anything--a poem, a short story, or the first chapter of a novel. I chose to write the first chapter of a novel I'd recently started to think about. Much to my surprise, my classmates and professor all loved it! They said they wanted to read more. That was when I realized that even though most people don't see wanting to be a novelist as a reasonable career goal, I would never be able to succeed if I didn't at least try.
Me: I totally believe that novelist is a WONDERFUL career goal:)
Q: How long did it take for you to finish your first novel?
A: About ten months. Six months to complete the first draft and four months to edit it. Editing took much longer than I'd anticipated!
Q: What genres do you write?
A: Young adult fiction. It's always been my favorite genre to read, so deciding to focus on YA was an easy decision for me.
Q: How many novels have you completed?
A: I have one completed, am working with my agent on final edits on a second, and have recently started a third. As of now some publishing houses are looking at my first novel, and my second novel should be going out in a few weeks to editors who requested to read it. I'm really hoping they'll like it!
Me: This is where an appropriate "squeeee" could be inserted because many people "squeeee" when excited. I tend to jump up and down with no noise escaping my mouth and clap my hands in a rapid fashion, which is hard to write. Here is my attempt to show excitement for Michelle, who has editors and important people reading her book and stuff: Boing, boing, boing, clap, clap, clap. Hahahahaha, I'm so lame I crack myself up.
But really, that's awesome, Michelle!
Q: What is your writing routine like?
A: Before I start on the novel I do research, character bios, and a detailed outline. (My outline for the novel I'm currently working on is 8,400 words long). Then I set myself a daily word count goal. While I was in college my goal was 1,000 words a day, and now that I've graduated I've upped it to 1,500 words a day. I don't have a strict "routine,"--I just make sure that I find time to every day finish my daily words. The hardest part for me is sitting down and starting to focus, but once started I get on a roll and don't stop until I'm finished.
Q: Please tell us the story about how you obtained your agent.
A: I met my agent at the Writer's Digest Pitch Slam. Pitch slams are when a lot of agents gather in one room and authors walk around from one to the next, giving each a short pitch about their book. It's like agent speed-dating. When I sat down in front of Christine Witthohn of Book Cents Literary Agency, the conversation flowed really well. I loved the excitement she showed for my novel, and when I emailed her the full manuscript I had a really great vibe. Then a few weeks later she called me and said she wanted to sign me! :)
Q: What do you do in the time you aren't writing?
A: I graduated Rollins College in May (I majored in English and graduated with honors), and recently started to work part-time as the social media coordinator at Florida Design Magazine. This means that I manage the company's social media accounts, like Twitter and Facebook.
Q: We met very briefly at the Willamette Writers Conference. While you visited Oregon and Washington, what did you enjoy most? Had you ever been here before that trip? What did you think of our beautiful state?
A: It was the first time I've traveled to the Northwest United States, and I loved it! The day after the conference I went on a hike and was amazed by how beautiful everything is up there. The mountains and waterfalls I got to see were spectacular, the cities of Portland and Seattle have a relaxed atmosphere that I really liked, and I even got to visit sites from the novel Twilight, which was super cool since I love the books so much.
Me: That's the best answer ever! Michelle's so rad!
Q: I've seen videos of you singing with your guitar. Do you write and perform music on a regular basis or is it a hobby?
A: I love music--some of my book ideas have been inspired by lyrics I hear in songs--but it's totally a hobby. I don't actually write my own songs (trust me, I'm much better at writing stories than songs), and I actually have stage-fright when it comes to performing music live. Singing and playing guitar is just something I do when I have extra time and want to relax.
Me: I HAVE STAGE FRIGHT, TOO!!!!! Similarities, rock. (I totally don't sing, though. Me singing = bad)
Q: Are there any other artistic talents you have?
A: I can do a little bit of Photoshop. I used to design MySpace layouts before Facebook became more popular. My link is www.myspace.com/michlayouts if you want to check them out. I was also a dancer in high school, doing everything from ballet to hip-hop.
Q: Is there anything you want to add or any personal information you'd like to discuss?
A: I can't think of any personal information, but the biggest piece of advice I can give to anyone who wants to be an author is that there's no reason not to start right now. In school I heard so many people say things along the lines of "once I graduate college, I'll start writing a book." I just wanted to grab them and be like "No! Why don't you start now?" If your mentality is to wait until the "right time" comes along to start your book, you're going to keep putting it off. So start writing today. Even if you can only set aside an hour a day to write, you'll be surprised at how far that will take you in a short amount of time.
Q: Do you have any advice for teenagers or a story you would like to share of how you may have struggled during your teen years?
A: Be true to yourself and learn from people around you. Everyone in high school is discovering who they are, which can make peer-pressure a strong thing. (It's this process of self-discovery that I find so interesting in young adult novels). So keep an open mind, and remember that you can learn something from every individual you meet. You can also learn from the characters you read about in books or watch on television shows and movies. Evaluate why you admire certain characters and then try to figure out how to use your understanding of them to make yourself a better person--no one is perfect, so there's always something about yourself that you can improve.
Q: What are you currently reading?
A: I just finished Wired (the third book in the Skinned Trilogy by Robin Wasserman--I highly recommend it!) and am a few chapters into Maze Runner by James Dashner.
Me: Both on my list of books to be read! Awesome:)
Q: What is your all-time favorite YA novel and why?
A: I only read it recently, but Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins has quickly become my all-time favorite YA novel. The main character, Katniss, is a very strong girl, and I admire the way she is willing to do anything for the people she loves. The concept is also very unique--a sick, dystopian spin on reality television. I couldn't put the book down!
Q: What's your all-time favorite movie?
A: Back to the Future or Moulin Rouge.
Me: Boing, boing, boing, clap, clap, clap!
Q: If you could be an object or another species, what would you be and why?
A: A witch in the world of Harry Potter. I could have gone to Hogwarts for high school, and that would have been totally awesome.
Q: What is your favorite food?
A: Pizza! Specifically Domino's Brooklyn style with pepperoni. I'm addicted to pizza. Like, I literally eat it almost every day.
Me: Whoa. Every day = love.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?
A: Thank you for being the first person to invterview me! I hope everything's going well with your writing, and I can't wait to read your books once you're published:)
Thank you, Michelle. I wish you all the best and look forward to buying your books from the shelves of bookstores soon!