Hi guys! Sorry about the late post (we had technical troubles), but our interview should make up for it. This week, we're bringing you Nicole Steinhaus, writer, intern for Entangled Publishing, and lovely human being. Check her out!
•How long have you been writing for?
I started writing back in 2009 and, really, it was because my husband was working nights and I was B.O.R.E.D. out of my mind. I’d never written fiction before and spent five months drafting the longest (140k), adjective-ridden, description-heavy story about a girl and a ghost. It was atrocious! And I’m so embarrassed I ever let anyone read it. But it was a learning experience.
•Tell us a little about your book.
The manuscript I currently have out on submission is a YA suspense that follows a sixteen-year-old girl’s journey into proper diagnosis of dissociative identity disorder:Ellie Cox can’t remember—her childhood or how she got the tattoo on her stomach. It started out small… forgetting a drive home or a conversation with a friend. But her blackouts are getting worse, more difficult to disguise as forgetfulness.When Ellie goes missing, no one expects to find her in the apartment of another boy. Not even Ellie. Or her boyfriend, Shane. Another three days have escaped her and, as if that isn’t bad enough, the boy, Griffin, keeps calling her “Gwen.” Ellie is branded as a cheater at school and, fighting for Shane’s forgiveness, she struggles to regain her three days and understand why she lost time in the first place.After discovering her biological last name, Ellie sets out to learn more about her past. And it turns out “Gwen” isn’t just a name Griffin calls her. Gwen is a real person. Living inside Ellie. Created by Ellie’s childhood mind to protect her from the horror she used to call home. Gwen now wants to take over Ellie and live her own life…at Ellie's expense.
After Oprah featured a woman on her show who was living with more than a hundred personalities, I knew DID was something I wanted to tackle fictionally. The idea frightened me, actually. How could I pull off something that, in reality, was so disorienting? Two months of research on top of six drafts and I’m proud to say it’s far more psychologically unsettling than I could’ve ever imagined.
•How'd you get your agent?
Query, wait, revise. Query, wait, revise. Really, that’s all I did. With this draft, I only queried a handful of agents and when Bree Ogden of D4EO Literary Agency approached me with an offer of representation, even though I had several other offers within that following week, my gut told me Bree was the one. She saw exactly what I was trying to pull off with Gwen and Ellie’s story and, more importantly, told me I could.
•How did The Call go?
Uh…you mean after I told Bree to call, realized my phone was dead, read her email that said something along the lines of “Um…you didn’t answer…,” called her back, and then hung up so she could call me relieving me of the long distance charges? Fantastic! Her first words, “I loved your book!” still make me smile. And pinch myself because, honestly, as cliché as this sounds, sometimes I feel like this is all a dream.I asked all the basic questions, wrote everything down knowing I wouldn’t remember a thing once we hung up and tried not to reveal how socially awkward I am on the phone. She went over the terms of the contract and we discussed the plan for my manuscript. She didn’t think any changes needed to be made so we talked on and off the following week about the pitch and then I was out. To The. Big. Six!
•Do you have any formal writing training?
None. However, I’m a teacher with a Master’s Degree in Education and a single subject credential in English so I’ve got a basic knowledge of grammar and punctuation and all of that other fun stuff which I’ve built on by reading craft books and writing-related blogs. I’ve attended conferences and retreats. One thing that’s helped tremendously is reading books in the genre I write. Not only do I see what I’m up against trying to break into the market as a debut writer, but often times I’ll break down plotlines and analyze sentence structure and character growth as I read.
•How did you get your internship at Entangled? Which imprint do you work at?
I owe it all to Alycia Tornetta, Bree’s former intern! And perfect timing. After signing with Bree, Alycia and I became fast Twitter friends and one day I mentioned to her about internships. She said she thought one was opening up at Entangled where she works as assistant editor and the next thing I knew senior editor Stacy Cantor Abrams was calling me! I read for Entangled, Indulgence, Bliss, and Covet.
•Has working on the "other side" helped your writing?
More than I could’ve imagined. I don’t see it as taking time away from my writing. Before this internship, I beta read a few manuscripts a month and what I learned is that seeing mistakes, whether big or small, in someone else’s writing can be a real eye-opener when it comes to your own. On the internship side, I’m privy to what the senior editors are passing on and, more importantly, why. Seeing this side of publishing has also helped with the anxiety of having my own manuscript out on submissions.I wouldn’t have learned about writing without the knowledge of others so I’ve been running a mini-series on my YA Stands blog (http://yastands.blogspot.com) called Reasons Editors Pass to pay forward some of the tips I’ve been learning. So far it’s gotten a pretty good response.
•What piece of advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Nothing new, but it’s what’s worked for me: Don’t rush in to thinking your manuscript is ready for submission. Take the proper steps to ensure it’s the best it can be. And when you do put yourself out there, don’t let the rejections get you down. Use the feedback from the agents/editors to make adjustments and TRY AGAIN.
Find Nicole at:
http://yastands.blogspot.com/ and https://twitter.com/YAStands