In case you were wondering what the heck is up with the spasmodic movement in the corner--that would be me dancing what I like to call the "Look Who I Got To Play With" dance. Fantabulous author, Lilith Saintcrow has joined us to day to celebrate the release of her new (and first Young Adult) release: Strange Angels.
I first found Lili's books when a friend referred me to her Dante Valentine series and I was hooked--though my very most favorite was the Society series. When I found out she was writing a YA series I totally fangirled the poor woman.
Lili, tell us about your new book.
Strange Angels is kind of like Buffy meets Supernatural, with a dose of Eastern European folklore and a heavy smatter of Appalachian folk-magic. It follows Dru Anderson, a girl who's traveled from town to town with her father, hunting thing that go bump in the night. When Dru's dad ends up dead and turned into a zombie, she's suddenly on the run. The things she and her father were hunting are now hunting back.
It is part of a series, I'm working on the third book now. I get to set a girl loose in an all-boys school, with werewolves and vampires, and watch the fun.
What inpsired you to make the jump to Young Adult and what was different about your writing process for Strange Angels compared to a Dante Valentine book?
There wasn't much difference. The books grew very organically around a single scene, and they both involve someone being taken past the point of what they thought they could bear. The basic commitment of any book is to tell the reader the truth, whether that reader is four, fourteen, forty, or a hundred and four.
I was initially worried about writing YA until I just flung myself in (it's normal for me to go merrily where angels fear to tread) and decided to write the book I would have wanted to read fifteen years ago. That happens a lot--it's the magic of writing. My job isn't to worry about where the words come from, it's to show up consistently and let the words take care of themselves.
Steven Brust once said he had a sign tacked up in his writing space that said, "And now, I'm going to tell you something REALLY cool." I think that's the best thing for a writer to do--be excited about what you're writing. Write what you think is cool, what makes you tingle all over. Life is too short to do otherwise.
One of our favorite themes at Fictionistas is "follow your dreams". What is your average day like?
My day is pretty boring--I get up early, get breakfast for my children, then answer correspondence and update my weblog. Then t's time to look over the work for the day, whether that's producing new words, revising, or looking at edits. After an early lunch I settle into a long slog throgh the afternoon, breaking to make dinner, then it's more work until I get the kids in bed. After that I'm up until midnight or one AM, writing or doing revisions. I put in long, long hours, but it doesn't seem like work. For one thing, it's what I love doing. Writing feels more like play than anything else.
I can also be home all day for my kids, which is great. The flexibility of my schedule is really ideal for parenting.
The downside is that I have to really, truly be disciplined. If I don't do it, it doesn't get done--and if I don't turn in my work on time and in a reasonably-clean condition, I may not be invited back again, and that's bad for me. My rent and groceries depend on me being dependable, and the discipline of writing every day is hard but necessary. Not only does my rent depend on it, but as John Scalzi says, it's the only way to get better. (http://whatever.scalzi.com/
I've caught a lot of flak for insisting that a "writer" needs to write, and write consistentl every day, but I'm not sorry and I don't take it back. There's no getting better without a lot of practice--Malcolm Gladwell says it takes ten thousand hours to achieve mastery. Might as well get them all out of the way, you know.
What are you working on now?
Right now I'm working on two contracted books--the third in the Strange Angels series and the next Jill Kismet book. I do tend to work on more than one manuscript at once, I'm not happy unless I have two or more things going on that I can juggle and play against each other.
What is the most surprising thing one of your characters has done?
They're all pretty surprising. The most awesome thing is when a character "tells" me something I couldn't possibly know that is borne out by further research. It's happened so many times that I've stopped wondering about it. Whether it's a stray bit of information I've unconsciously retained or whether the imaginary people do know more than I do...well, I'm content not knowing.
What were your favorite movies when you were in high school? Has your list changed much since?
When I was in high school, I loved The Breakfast Club, Highlander (original movie only,) The Crow (Alex Proyas is one of my favorite directors,) Heathers, and similarly dysfunctional movies. The list is in a constant state of chage, because there are so many awesome films out there an I have a Netflix subscription. I have to say, though, that Dead Poets Society was and is my absolute-favorite movie, and Frankie & Johnny and Conspiracy Theory are comfort-views for me.
What book is on your nightstand right now?
Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking, Nancy Price's Sleeping With The Enemy, and a stack of Georgette Heyer's romances. I always think you should have more than one book on your nightstand.
You are on a deserted island with an mp3 player with only three songs. What do you hope those songs are?
Beethoven's Ninth, Rob Dougan's Clubbed To Death, and Tom Petty's Won't Back Down.
If you could go back and time and have a heart-to-heart with TeenLili, what would you tell her?
"Don't stop writing. It will get better. Soon you'll be on your own and these people and the things you're enduring now won't matter. You will have survived, and you're going to be awesome. None of this stuff matters. Just keep writing."
Strange Angels trailer: