Saturday, May 26, 2012

Interview with a Vamp— err... Amy Zhang

Hey, guys! Mark here, bringing you my interview with the lovely purple hippo Amy! Yaaaay!

After much binding, gagging, and kidnapping, I got Amy to sit down with me, and she graciously answered my questions. (As if she had a choice!) Without further ado, (adoo? adieu?) here's our interview!

M: Tell me about your novel.

A: Hmmm...can I cheat by pasting my query here? No? Well, WILDFLOWER is set in a world in which peace is upheld through violence, and every year, nine hundred children are sent to fight a small, pointless, and brutal war that keeps everyone else safe. ((Fun!)) My main character, Faye, is captured during one of these Wars by a soldier named Aro, who turns out to be following orders from the man who murdered her parents. ((Ooohhhhhh...))

M: How long did it take you to find your agent, from the time you started querying to the time you accepted representation?

A: Well, the answer to that is actually rather complicated...I started querying a version of my novel last June, but was struck sometime in December with a major epiphany about my plot that essentially turned my manuscript into a new novel (with a new title and everything. Even my guy protagonist even went through a name change). ((I had this same thing with my second novel. The first draft was suckish, to be kind, but I've done rewrites that turned it into what is basically a different novel.)) I started querying again in January, and got my offer thirteen days later (yes, I counted. I got an app and everything :P). ((...*has been querying for a month and a half* *throws tomato, pretends it wasn't him*))

M: How many queries did you send?

A: Well, when I started back in June, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. ((Me too! I spent a hundred words complimenting the agents in my first batch of queries for my first novel.)) Which is my way of defending myself against the fact that I submitted a ghastly query to over forty agents, only six of which asked me for a partial or a full. ((Better than my request rate for my first novel. :P)) After rewriting my novel, researching the industry, and finally getting some feel for what I was doing, I sent out fourteen queries and got four full requests and an offer within two weeks. Which was, you know, very cool. ((2 kewl 4 skewl!))

M: Have you previously been published?

A: Not extensively. I've had a few poems and short stories published in a state high school literary magazine, but that's about it. ((Nothing to scoff at.))

M: How long does it take you to write a first draft? To write subsequent drafts?

A: The first draft of WILDFLOWER took...three months, maybe? Basically, I wrote it during the summer before my freshman year. Subsequent rewrites (twelve of them), have taken me up until now, so that's...nine months? Ish?

M: What inspired you to write WILDFLOWER?

A: This is going to sound a bit insane, but I was approached by my guy protagonist. ((That doesn't sound insane at all. The same thing happened to me with my MC.)) I had been on a mission trip in Arizona at the time, and it had been hot and dusty and I'd been a nosebleed every other hour, ((Fun!)) and while I had been lying awake one night, he sort of just...tapped on my mind and said that he had a story to tell me. Make sense? No?

M: What was your biggest challenge while writing?

A: Definitely finding the time to do it. When I first started writing, my parents were always yelling at me to stop wasting my time and go study for my SATs instead. Also, in the fall (during tennis season), I don't get home until pretty late, with absolutely no time for writing during the week. So, sometime this winter, I rearranged my schedule so that my writing time was in the morning instead of in the evenings. I started getting up around 4:00 a.m. to write (I'm a morning person, okay? least, I'm less misanthropic in the mornings than at night, after being around people for an entire day...), which was a pain before I got used to it. Honestly, it's nice to start my day with a few hours of writing. ((You wake up at 4 A.M.… by choice... *dies*))

M: What was your most awkward writing related moment?

A: Oh, gosh...did I mention that I didn't tell my agent that I was fifteen until THE CALL? Yeah...she was all like, " you mind if I asked how old you are?" and I was like, "Um...uh...about that...ummmm...I'm kinda in...high school?" I was totally tongue-tied. And I sounded like a complete idiot, of course. ((*thinly disguised snicker*))

M: What is one the one piece of advice you would give a teen writer?

A: Don't let the condescension get to you. Ever. Seriously, you can do it. Come here and rant about it instead! ((Agreed! Bring us your rants, your raves...))

Wasn't that the bee's knees? Amy is so kind to have not screamed for help! What a sweetheart., Amy, I will not let you go now. Silly goose!

Come back next week, guys! We have more fun stuff brewing in the cauldron, if y'know what we mean.

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