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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Interview with Tessa Gratton!


The amazing Tessa Gratton has kindly taken some time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions for us. Don't we absolutely love her for it? Yes, (I will answer on behalf of all) yes, we do.

Okay, first off, it’s the question every author has had to answer a thousand and two times; will you tell us about your book Blood Magic?

BLOOD MAGIC is about two teens who meet in a cemetery and plunge into a dangerous world of dark magic, first love, and the deadly secrets that hide in blood. For more info you can visit my website (www.tessagratton.com) which has a longer blurb.
 
What has your road to publication been like? 

AMAZING.  Once I decided to put everything I had into becoming a full time writer/published author, things began clicking into place. Writing three novels in a row led to finding amazing critique partners (Maggie Stiefvater and Brenna Yovanoff), which led to our fiction blog, www.merryfates.com, which led to me finding my agent (Laura Rennert at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency), which led to my two book deal with Random House. It wasn’t all sunshine and lollipops, of course, but it WAS very systematic, as if it was meant to be.
 
Was there a point where you thought this wouldn't work; getting an agent or publishing your book? How did you deal with that feeling?

No, I never believed that. I always believed if I worked every day toward my goal that I’d achieve it. Eventually. You HAVE to believe in yourself and in your goals.

Have you always wanted to be an author? When did you decide that you were serious about writing a book?

I used to want to be a paleontologist or a ballerina, and in high school I wanted to be an actor. I’ve been writing novels since 5th grade though, just for fun.  My senior year of high school I wrote my first complete novel, a 175,000 word epic fantasy that I then tried to get published. THANK GOD IT DIDN’T WORK. After that I went to college and grad school, still writing but not too seriously.  It was when I dropped out of grad school that I made the decision to be a writer, and got down-and-dirty-serious with it.

How did you decide that you'd like to write for the YA genre?

Maggie, my crit partner, said, “Why is this an adult novel?” and I said “I have no idea.” She dared me to write a YA book in 6 weeks. I did, loved it, and realized that all my ideas had always been YA, I just hadn’t realized it. She opened my eyes to the wonders of writing for teens.
 
When you reach a particularly rough area in your story where you just don't know what direction to take, do you like to wait for inspiration to hit or would you rather tough it out and fix it later?

Neither, really. I take a step back and brainstorm. I listen to music. I walk my dog. I whine to Maggie and Brenna. Eventually, I figure out what my problem is, and I can write again.  I rarely move on without figuring out what’s wrong, but you cannot just wait for inspiration. If I did that, I’d never have finished a book.

In your own opinion, do you feel that the plot is more important to the success of a story, or the characters and their interactions with one another?

CHARACTER. I don’t give a crap about plot. Which is something I’m trying to work on.
 
What’s the scariest part of going through the editing process? 

You know, I don’t think it’s scary at all. I love editing. It’s so much better than drafting for me, because I have all the parts right there, and it’s a question of cutting, gutting, and re-arranging. But I can see the whole picture in ways I can’t when I’m drafting. 

How do you balance out time for writing and time to spend with loved ones?

It isn’t that tough,  because I get up by 6am to write most mornings, so by the afternoon I’m so tired of writing that I can spend time with friends/family. (And then fall asleep by 9pm.)
 
How does blogging affect your writing and reading habits?

My regular blog doesn’t affect my writing, but my fiction blog, the Merry Sisters of Fate, has taught me more about writing than anything – the pressure of writing so many short stories and putting them on the blog has helped me tighten my world-building, characterization, and let me play around with a hundred ideas. I’ve learned so much from Maggie and Brenna that way, too.

As for reading, I pretty much only read books that I read about on book blogger blogs. So blogging and the blogger community is a HUGE influence on my reading habits. So THANK YOU BLOGGERS!!! I LOVE YOU!

I think it's obvious to everyone that Missouri isn't exactly a hotspot for settings in books. What made you decide to set your story here?

I’m from Kansas, and went to high school in Missouri, so I have an affinity for the area. I’ve done a lot of camping in the Ozarks and in Trail of Tears Park near Cape Girardeau.  The area is so beautiful!  I love the land. It feels old and mysterious and rich like Mississippi and Louisiana (where I have family), but also lighter – more hopeful somehow. So it’s really the feeling of southern Missouri that I wanted for Blood Magic: southern gothic, but hopeful. 
 
What would be the best advice you could give a teen who would like to have a future in writing? 

HAVE ADVENTURES. Go to college and study everything that interests you (not necessarily writing, bc you’ll do that anyway). History, anthropology, biology.  Take road trips around America. See Mesa Verde.  See Gettysburg. And then study abroad if you can. Backpack across Europe. Go to Mexico. Meet people, get lost in Budapest. All of these things, or any one of them.

I've heard through the grape-vine that you and Shiver author Maggie Stiefvater are good friends. Is it helpful to have a friend that's been through what you're experiencing now?

Yes, I get to learn from all her mistakes. IT’S AWESOME.  I know what to expect on pretty much every level because I went through it with her last year.  That doesn’t make it less amazing for me, but it’s more comfortable. Less shocking.

And finally, the most difficult of the list: Cats or dogs? :)

Oh, well, I have two cats and a dog. I don’t think I can choose. My dog helps me write but my cats snuggle much better. 

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You can read more about Tessa Gratton and her novel Blood Magic, which debuts the summer of 2011, over at her site. Don't forget to check out her blog right here, and read weekly short stories by Tessa, Maggie Stiefvater and Brenna Yovanoff!

Thanks so much Tessa! :D

6 comments:

Sam said...

This is quite fantabulous.
I love the description of Missouri. It makes me feel way cooler to live here. :P

~Nicole Ducleroir~ said...

Great interview!! I enjoyed this post very much. I'm a new follower and wanted to say hello :)

I look forward to reading more from you!

Lydia Kang said...

Great interview. I love reading about how different writers made it to where they are. There's always something to learn!

love from beyond said...

iiiinteresting!
kinda cool to see something written that takes place here.

Anonymous said...

Haha, that's okay, buddy.
Okay, let's see...
1) I moved up to Washington the summer we finished 5th grade
2) I went to your house last summer and we attempted to make beignets, but they just kind of turned out like little pancakes :)
3)Um, sometimes people confuse us when we have our backs to them.
4) Hmm... oh, yes, I meant Cynthia's blog.
5) wow, this is hard
6) ooooh! i love to play Super Monkey Balls with you!!! haha
do you know who i am yet??
haha,
your buddy,
OLIVIA R.
:)

Maggie said...

Sam: It makes me feel cooler too! Like Missouri's really *someplace* now.

Nicole: Tessa was a doll to interview; so nice. Thanks for following! :)

Lydia: I do too. Every author's experience is different and I find it interesting to hear about!

Beyond: I know! Nothing's ever set in MO.

Olivia: I'm sorry. I really think you have the wrong Maggie. :( Are you sure the person you're talking about is from Missouri?