Saturday, October 2, 2010
Someday Famous YA Author -- MICHELLE SUSSMAN
Today, we meet Michelle Sussman. This gal is someone you should watch out for. I've got a feeling...
A one sentence bio from her fabulous website:
"Michelle is a YA author, journalist, columnist and volunteer living in a Chicago suburb with her husband, two kids and their miniature schnauzer, Ace."
Not only is she all of that, but she grew up on a farm! Totally cool. I'd love to live on a farm. My farm would be a sanctuary for neglected animals. We'd house cows and chickens and horses and dogs and pigs and cats and kangaroos and... Okay, enough about me, this is about Michelle who lived on a farm with soybeans and corn.
Meet Michelle Sussman, a someday (probably sooner than later) famous YA author, Q&A style.
Q: How long have you been writing?
A: Does forever count? I remember completing my first novel when I was seven. It was seven pages long and about a unicorn. I remember thinking that seven pages was unbelievably long. Haha! If only it were that easy now.
Me: I need to interrupt here, peeps. A unicorn? I would have totally loved that seven-page book and if it were published now, it would fit right it with the trends. She was hip before her time.
Q: Tell us about your novels.
A: I have completed two YA novels. They are both trying to tempt agents as we speak. Fulls of both novels have been requested and are being reviewed. I hope to get a bite on one, but all I can do is wait and see.
ANATHEMA - Mina, gifted with powerful magic, is the focus of an ancient prophecy directing her to free her people from the oppressive conquering Malborn. Unfortunately she's a sheltered slave girl, surrounded by lies and manipulation, who doesn't know how to believe in her own destiny.
THE SLEEPERS - An adoptee raised in a foreign land, sixteen-year-old Lianne was content with her life as handmaiden to the queen until a latent spell cast on her at birth activated. Now she's filled with uncontrollable rage and access to magic she thought had been bled from her people years ago. When the kingdom threatens to tear itself apart due to the rumor surrounding the queen's alleged affair, who will Lianne protect and who will she destroy?
Me: Can I read them NOW? Please?
Q: What prompted you to write these novels? Why for YA? Have you always written YA?
A: All of my books start with a tiny spark of inspiration. ANATHEMA is based off a whimsical comment my then-five-year-old daughter made in the car on the drive to my parents' farm. THE SLEEPERS has adoption as a theme and my son is adopted (though the book isn't even remotely similar to his circumstances).
I write for kids because I absolutely adore children's literature, not because YA is hot. My mom has been an elementary school librarian since I was in 2nd grade and her influence definitely shaped my tastes in books. She's still in the same position after all these years and she still recommends books to me all the time.
Q: How did you come up with the titles?
A: ANATHEMA is one of my all-time favorite words and it's also a description of my main character. THE SLEEPERS is directly related to the content of the book. I guess with both, I'd have to say you need to read through to the end to understand both titles.
Me: I had to look up the favorite word on Dictionary.com.
Anathema (noun) 1. A person or thing detested or loathed. 2. A person or thing accursed or assigned to damnation or destruction. 3. A formal ecclesiastical curse involving excommunication.
Q: Do you have any tips on writing a winning query letter? I noticed yours has garnered attention.
A: Practice, practice, practice. I also think it helps to have other writers, who haven't yet read your book, go over your query for you. If they don't intimately know your work, then they are more objective when critiquing it. Don't feel like you have to take every suggestion and incorporate it, but when two or more people tell you the same thing isn't working I think that should set off alarms!
Me: So, uh, errr, hey there. You wanna, uh, read mine?
Q: You also write articles. Over 100, in fact! Wowza! How did you get started with articles? Do you enjoy writing them?
A: As an at-home mom I was bored silly so I decided to write for magazines. I read a couple books on the topic, sent out my first query and my article idea was accepted. It all snowballed from there.
Q: What is your blog about?
A: A little bit of this and a little bit of that, but it all relates to writing. It's my intention never to put anyone down or complain about the business. I want to be helpful, not hurtful.
Me: Awesome. I'm down with the positives. Check out the blog: Michelle's blog
Q: What is your writing routine?
A: I wish I had one! Since I'm an at-home mom with two kids, I'm constantly on the run. If you saw me around town, I'd probably be lugging my laptop or holding a pad of paper in my hand. I write when I can fit in the time around practices, school, PTA duties, you name it!
Me: You just exhausted me.
Q: Since my blog is about teen struggles, 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: I absolutely struggled in my teens! I was a HUGE dork -- unruly red hair, too tall for the boys, freckles, gangly and I loved band. Like loved band more than I should have. I still miss marching band. And my personality, OMG, I was just a complete and total nerd. I still am.
But I survived by finding friends like me so we could revel in our dorkitude together. We didn't drink or smoke, instead we played board games and watched movies. If we didn't have dates to dances, we went out somewhere else instead. The teenage years are hard for so many reasons, but I survived simply by being true to myself. Did I care what everyone else thought? Sure, but I knew someday I'd grow up and high school wouldn't matter anymore.
Me: If I went to your high school, you would have been my idol. Serious. I always wanted to be tall and I always wanted red hair. I already had the freckles though, and I played the clarinet.
Q: What are you currently reading?
A: Cassandra Clare's MORTAL INSTRUMENTS series.
Q: What is your all-time favorite YA novel and why?
A: I am, of course, a HUGE devotee of Suzanne Collins, but I have to admit the book I plowed through in six hours because I couldn't put it down was THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH by Carrie Ryan. Wow, just, WOW!
Q: What is your all-time favorite move?
A: Ack! Better Off Dead! No, Runaway Bride! Wait, Flash Gordon (the cheesy 80s verson). Or maybe Labyrinth!? GAH!
Me: Okay...now even more reasons I would have idolized you.
Q: If you could be an object or another species, what would you be and why?
A: A bat because they are dark & misunderstood...
Q: What is your favorite food?
A: Ben & Jerry's Fro Yo Half Baked (brownie & cookie dough) *drools*
Me: Typing that just made my tummy ache.
Thank you, Michelle, for participating in the SOMEDAY FAMOUS YA AUTHOR series. You are a rad gal and I can't wait to see your books on the shelves of the bookstore so I can say "I interviewed her when..."