I'm lucky (or cunning) enough to have lured yet another successful writer over to my blog for an SAT - Successful Author Talk. In this case I snagged my editor-sister (hooray!) and internet omnipresence Jodi Meadows. Jodi's debut YA novel, INCARNATE will be available from Harper Collins / Katherine Tegen on January 31, 2012.
BBC: INCARNATE is about Ana, a new soul in a world where everyone is reincarnated. Did you do a lot of research on reincarnation in order to write it?
JM: I did a little research on reincarnation in various cultures and to see what type of reincarnation books are already out there, but I came to the story with a very clear idea of the world I wanted to write about. And because it was the entire society being reincarnated, I had to consider a lot of the potential consequences and drawbacks, too.
As a result, I did a TON of daydreaming about the way the society might work around these problems. (Jobs, laws/punishment, inbreeding, etc...) Lots of the worldbuilding won't find its way into the story for lack of relevance and room, but I did try to leave little clues throughout. For example, they are *fierce* about keeping track of genealogies, and no one has siblings!
BBC: You've described Ana's personality as "prickly." What made you decide to create an MC that might not be the type you crush to your bosom in a soul-hug five minutes after meeting?
JM: Ana's personality came from the way she was raised. As the only new person, she was viewed not as special, but a bad omen. She replaced one of the old souls! Understandably, many (including Ana's mother) were afraid of what that might mean for their existence, and frightened people aren't always very nice.
Ana is an abuse victim. Her mother abused her emotionally and physically, and while Ana has managed to hang on to a little innocence and hopefulness, she's defensive and untrusting. She doesn't read people very well (like spoken language, body language is something you learn by immersion), and until she meets people who *don't* hate her like her mother does, she tends to assume everyone is out to get her.
I do hope people like Ana -- she's a good girl, overall -- but I also really hope they understand her.
BBC: You're very active online, including your own site, Twitter, and the amount of time you donate over on Authoress' blog - Miss Snark's First Victim - to help aspiring writer's attain their goals. Do you believe having an online presence helps boost your readership? Do you recommend aspiring writers begin an online platform before, during, or after the agent/editor hunt?
JM: In some ways, yes. It definitely didn't hurt to have a relatively popular blog and Twitter feed before my deal, but I don't think it's necessary for success, either. Hanging out on social media and helping with Authoress's blog occasionally is something I enjoy doing. If I didn't enjoy it, I definitely wouldn't bother because it can be pretty time consuming!
For authors looking at jumping into social media, I'd say start when you're ready (and only if you want to). You can't have an audience too soon, and if you have a popular blog or Twitter, your agent may use that as a selling point. "Look, she comes with an audience!"
The only other reminder I'd give is to remember your "audience" is made up of people. Treat them like friends, not potential buyers.
BBC: Who is your agent and how did you land her?
JM: My agent is the smart and lovely Lauren MacLeod (@bostonbookgirl on Twitter). I got her the old fashioned way: I developed a major agent crush with her on Twitter, queried, sent her manuscripts, and kept trying until she said yes.
Now we do normal agent/author things together, like holding baby tigers. Wait, that *is* normal, right?
BBC: You blog, tweet, knit, raise ferrets, and write. Any time management tips for writers?
JM: Give up sleep.
To be serious (sort of), I'm in the very lucky position of not having another job, so I can write full time. I also don't have kids, the ferrets sleep 15-18 hours a day, and my husband goes to work. This leaves me with lots of time to create and destroy worlds with my brain.
I've had to learn very little time management so far. I'm driven to write, and I will work hard to meet deadlines. Occasionally I have to prioritize things, and I try to get to emails and other obligations quickly so they don't pile up, but writing always comes first.