Hey, everyone, I was fortunate enough to be able to conduct this interview with author Marianne Mancusi to discuss her most recent novel (and first hardback!) GAMER GIRL. This is my first Q and A with an author and I am SO excited! Here we go!
1) OK, first I want to ask you a question that doesn't deal with your book. When did you discover your passion for writing?
I’ve always loved to tell stories. Even before I could pick up a pen, I’d dictate stories for my mom to transcribe. In high school, I would spend class time writing stories for my friends to read—romances about them and the rock stars who loved them.
2) GAMER GIRL is your most recent novel. Can you give us a few tidbits about what it's about?
It’s similar in premise to that “You’ve Got Mail” movie with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, but with videogames instead of instant messaging. My heroine, Maddy, is friendless and bullied in the real world, but discovers love online. Problem is, she’s not sure if her new virtual friend will actually like the real life her.
3) What gave you the idea for GAMER GIRL?
I am intrigued by the idea of people who have never met in real life falling in love in the virtual world and wanted to explore how that happens. Can that online attraction grow into a real life romance? How truthful are these relationships—which are based solely on what you choose to tell the other person?
I also wanted to write an empowering tale to help tweens and teens survive high school bullying, of which I, myself, was once a victim.
4) How long did it take you to write GAMER GIRL, including first draft and edits?
Probably about six months.
5) GAMER GIRL is not your first book. What other books have you published?
I’ve done a variety of books for both teens and adults in a number of genres. Comedy, time travel, vampires, cyberpunk, zombie apocalypse – you name it, I’ve probably written it.
6) What type of reader would enjoy GAMER GIRL?
My ideal reader would be a tween or younger teen who loves videogames and/or manga. (My heroine is a budding manga artist, so a lot of the book focuses on that world.) But any girl who has, at one time or another, felt like a freak or a loner at school will hopefully relate.
7) GAMER GIRL released very close to the holiday season. Do you think (or hope!) that this will increase sales?
That is the dream. I personally think it would make a great Christmas gift for a tween or teen. And it’s a lot cheaper than a videogame. :)
8) How do you see the economy slump affecting the book world? There's been a lot of controversy about this topic.
I know it looks bleak, but I refuse to believe that books are going to go away. Maybe the method of delivery will change (more e-books, for example) or the big chain store model will shift (Maybe more independent bookstores? Or online sale?) but there’s always going to be a need for good stories. And I’m prepared to keep telling them.
9) How excited are you about GAMER GIRL?
It’s my first hardcover, which is definitely exciting, and I’m proud of how it turned out. Even after twelve books, it’s still thrilling to go in and see it sitting on the young adult tables in bookstores.
10) Is GAMER GIRL your favorite book you have written so far, or does another hold that title?
That would be like choosing between your children! I love every book I’ve written in different ways. I will say I am particularly fond of my Blood Coven series. (Boys that Bite, Stake That, Girls that Growl.) The characters and stories are just so much fun to write.
11) Who inspires you to write?
My teen MySpace friends who write me all the time and beg for more books. It’s always so encouraging to go and read their emails—especially when I’m feeling down and unmotivated to write.
12) There are a lot of aspiring writers out there who are looking for a literary agent. What's the best advice you can give them on that topic?
Don’t settle. It’s better to have no agent than a bad one or one who doesn’t fit your style or career goals. I have an amazing agent now—Kristin Nelson of Nelson Literary Agency—but that wasn’t always the case. Find an agent who supports your career goals and believes in your writing. Find someone who will “tough love” you when you get lazy and push editors to give you the best deal possible. Someone who goes over contracts with a fine tooth comb and doesn’t let anything slide. Someone who knows the market you’re writing for inside and out and has contacts in your preferred genre. (Otherwise, they’re just sending out manuscripts as blindly as you could do yourself.) Find a good communicator who always answers your questions promptly, and who treats you exactly the same as they do their A-List clients. You deserve respect and should accept nothing less.
13) And the last question is: what is the best piece of advice you can give to a writer?
Don’t be in a hurry to get published. Work hard, learn the craft, tell the story you want to tell. And finally, when you truly believe it’s the best book it can be, then send it out to agents and editors for publication. I see too many writers who are in such a rush to get published that they don’t send out their best work and then get defeated by rejections they receive. Or they try to copy other successful authors in order to get published rather than writing in their own voice. They begin to lose the joy of writing that they once had and become disillusioned and end up quitting in the end.
Doctors and lawyers spend years in training before they can start working in their chosen professions. But since writers have little formal training required, they seem to want to take short cuts. They believe their first book will be published and don’t take under consideration that they’re still actually in school/training mode. A doctor can’t perform an operation in his first year of medical school. But for some reason many writers truly believe their first book should become a bestseller with very little effort.
Write because you love to write. Stay dedicated to the craft and the storytelling. Never lose sight of that in a desperate attempt to get published. I guarantee when that day comes when you eventually do hold that first book in your hand the wait will be worth it!
That's it! Thanks so much to Ms. Mancusi for this interview. I think any writer can take her wonderful advice and put it to good use. I know I will! GAMER GIRL is on sale now....it would make a great Christmas gift for the tween or teen in your life.
So, how'd I do on my first Q and A?