Have you met Tony Graff yet? He's a someday famous YA author whose debut novel, JUNIPER CRESCENT, will be released this year by Blue Planet Publishing.
He's been so kind to take a few moments away from writing and creating awesome jewelery and crocheting (you read that correctly) to participate in the "Someday Famous YA Author" series.
Meet Tony Q&A style:
Q: HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WRITING?
A: I've been writing novels for two years now. Originally I had intended to get into graphic novels, but my inability to draw the main character made me consider writing it as a novel. I think I always had a fascination with story-telling, in all its forms.
Q: IS "JUNIPER CRESCENT" YOUR FIRST NOVEL?
A: It's the first novel to succeed as far as it has.
Q: HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO WRITE IT?
A: It took about eight months for the first draft to be completed, and since then there have been 2 complete rewrites.
Q: WHAT IS IT ABOUT?
A: It's about a girl named Oksanya (pronounced ox-on-ya), who suffers from muscular dystrophy until a miraculous operation gives her a new lease on life by replacing the genetic code for her disease with that of a cheetah. While she loves the ability to run a two minute mile, she has to deal with teaching herself not to hunt while she runs.
Q: HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE TITLE?
A: I'm still not entirely sure. I was throwing around words for about a week, trying to find something that sounded good. When Juniper and Crescent came together, it just fit, like I knew that was to be the title. While I did reference it later on in the novel, I can't really figure out why the title is significant.
Q: HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO FIND AN AGENT AND HOW DID YOU FIND HER?
A: Once I had the first draft completed, friends were talking to me and telling me to look into getting it published, which pretty much was like getting dropped into foreign country. I spent six months sending out manuscripts and getting rejected, until August of 2008, when Judyth Piazza responded positively to my inquiry. I found her through a database of agents and publishers who were interested in the work of new authors.
Q: HOW DID YOU FEEL WHEN YOU FOUND HER AND SHE WANTED TO REPRESENT YOU?
A: When I got the email saying she would like to represent my work, it was cloud nine for me. There really hasn't been much to compare with how satisfied and amazing it feels.
Q: WHAT PROMPTED YOU TO WRITE THIS NOVEL AND WHY FOR YA? HAVE YOU ALWAYS WRITTEN YA?
A: Juniper Crescent started out as my attempt to draw a graphic novel. I had a few ideas that were going together, thanks to the Discovery Channel, but after a whole evening of drawing and not getting Oksanya to look right, I felt like a failure because I couldn't draw her the way I saw her. But I didn't want to just put all my work on the shelf, so I vented about it on Facebook. The next day, I had a lot of response requesting more information about the story, and the cheetah girl I couldn't draw. I mentioned what I wanted to happen, and people kept pushing me to actually write it out. So I did.
I've always wanted to write for Young Adults because it has the best pieces of children's literature and more mature novels. I've always loved to read, but a lot of the novels in the adult section seemed to have so much information on stuff that wasn't relevant to the story. Authors would throw in so much violence and sex that I wondered where they were going with it. Young Adult literature gets to focus on the story, and the characters, the most.
As a genre, I want to write YA novels. I love working with that kind of character, and that stage of life, where most people are solidifying themselves for themselves, independent of external influences.
Q: WHAT IS YOUR WRITING ROUTINE? ARE YOU WORKING ON ANY OTHER PROJECTS AT THE MOMENT?
A: Each night, I sit down with a notebook, and write out what I need to accomplish, and what I want to accomplish, and included in those lists is a goal for writing. I try and have regular scheduled time to write--when my job as a movie projectionist lets me--so that I have that time to focus.
As of right now, I'm working on the third book in the Juniper Crescent series.
Q: TELL US ABOUT THE JEWELERY YOU CREATE.
A: When writer's block sets in, I've found the quickest cure is going to another creative outlet. For me, it became crocheting and making jewelry. I've really fallen for the Stempunk culture, which is gaining popularity, and a big aspect of it is that it's home made. This gave me an avenue to not only tap into my creative potential, but also lent me an added ability to pay the bills till Juniper Crescent becomes a best-seller (lol). I really enjoy making earrings, as well as cuff links, which isn't exactly a common look, but I love the opportunity to express myself.
Q: AND THE CROCHETING. HOW DID YOU GET GREAT AT IT?
A: I started crocheting hats when I spent two years in Alberta, Canada as a full-time missionary for the LDS Church. Flat out, there were some days it so cold that it wasn't safe to go out and work, so we would need something to keep us from getting cabin fever. I made a dozen or so hats, and upon returning, my older brother showed me how to take what I knew and make stuffed animals out of it. It's what I do when I'm watching TV.
Q: I NOTICED A COMMENT ON YOUR FACEBOOK WALL AND WOULD LIKE YOU TO ELABORATE ON IT. WHAT'S UP WITH SCORPIONS?
A: I like to think I'm adventurous when it comes to food. More often than not, if I see something, I'm willing to try it, even if it's on the bizarre foods TV show.
Q: IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WOULD LIKE TO ADD?
A: When I was in college, I had a professor who made a beautiful point. In his Art 101 class, he stopped his lecture on the Renaissance and said, "Imagine how many more Da Vincis and Michelangelos there could be if it weren't for online gaming." This really struck me when I considered how much time I spent where I didn't accomplish any of my goals, and how many days I could have written more, and didn't because watching House MD was more important to me.
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: The most important struggle, in my experience, that a teen will go through is that of their own identity. Most other problems branch off of that. Most of my friends from high school don't take the time to talk to me, and looking back, I couldn't blame them. I didn't know who I was, or how cool I was, until I was about 21. If you don't know who you are, it will always feel like there are more problems. It is worth every effort.
Currently reading: UGLIES by Scott Westerfeld, CORALINE by Neil Gaiman, and BURNED by Ellen Hopkins.
All Time Favorite YA Novel and Why: My all time favorite novel I hadn't been introduced to until I was in college last year, and that's THE WEE FREE MEN by Terry Pratchett. Absolutely hilarious.
My all time favorite novel is the DIVINE COMEDY by Dante Aligheiri. In high school, we had to read selection from the "Inferno," and out of an entire class, I adored the book.
Favorite Movie: Ooh, that's a tough one. There have been so many movies that have special meaning to me, but I think my favorite is V FOR VENDETTA.
If you could be an object or another species, what would you be and why?
Another species, that sounds like a Juniper Crescent question. I love questions like this, it taps into my fascination with different perspectives. Right now I think I would like to be Facebook. That way everyone would talk to me, trust me, and tell me their secrets and let me be their friend.
Me: (hahahaha--I totally loved that answer)
Favorite Food: There really is a lot of food to enjoy. One of the best culinary experiences I had was with the green chili sauce at the Brewery Bar 3 in Denver. Their smothered burritos were something akin to inspiration to me.
Awesome! Thanks, Tony, for all the information. I look forward to reading your soon to be bestselling novel, JUNIPER CRESCENT.
And there you have it, peeps. A rad new author who is talented enough to crochet! I wish I could crochet.
Here's a photo of Oksanya, the main character in the soon to be released novel, JUNIPER CRESECENT.
Be sure to stop by Tony's blog: www.junipercrescent.blogspot.com