Thursday, March 26, 2009

Book Launch: My Big Nose and Other Natural Disasters

I'd like to introduce another debut novel for 2009, the hilarious MY BIG NOSE AND OTHER NATURAL DISASTERS by Sydney Salter.

Congratulations on the publication of your novel, MY BIG NOSE AND OTHER NATURAL DISASTERS. Can you tell us a bit about the story and what inspired it?
The initial inspiration for the story came from one of my worst days in high school. Four days into my new summer job as a delivery driver for The Cake & Flower Shoppe, I backed into a short metal post, destroying the van’s sliding door. Later that same day, in an attempt to make amends for my earlier disaster, I set up some poor bride’s three-tiered wedding cake by myself. I ran to help my distressed boss with the flowers. When I came back, the cake had tumbled off its columns into a ball of frosting and grass. Needless to say, I was fired. For the novel, I combined my worst day with my worst insecurity: my big nose. The title kind of wrote itself.

The book has a true teen voice. How did you manage it? Is any part of it autobiographical?
I’ve kept a daily diary since high school so I reread several volumes before writing MY BIG NOSE AND OTHER NATURAL DISASTERS. I even snuck a few of my 17-year-old self’s words into the manuscript, but ironically those were the ones my editor flagged as not sounding like Jory’s voice.

Besides the delivery van incident, there are a few other autobiographical things. My mother did experiment with crazy diets while I was growing up, including the Dinner For Breakfast Diet. I also had my characters do a lot of things I enjoyed doing with my Reno High friends like hanging out at Lake Tahoe.

How long have you been writing for children/teens? Have you written other books or is this your first effort?
MY BIG NOSE AND OTHER NATURAL DISASTERS is my fourth effort. I started seriously writing for children when my youngest daughter entered preschool—I made the most of those brief hours and completed three manuscripts. Feeling a bit discouraged by the submission and rejections process, I decided to try something new and wrote my fourth manuscript during National Novel Writing Month (it was so much fun!).

Can you describe your path to the publication of MY BIG NOSE AND OTHER NATURAL DISASTERS?
Recognizing that MY BIG NOSE AND OTHER NATURAL DISASTERS was my most commercial book, I decided to only query agents. I received several nice rejection letters—one agent I’d met at the SCBWI New York Intensive didn’t offer to represent me, but recommended Firebrand Literary. And that’s how I found my agent! I went through a few rounds of revisions with my agent, Ted Malawer, before he submitted the manuscript to publishers. We accepted Harcourt’s offer to publish two YA novels while I was in the airport on my way to the SCBWI LA conference. I loved celebrating my good news with fellow writers!

Do you have any advice for beginning writers?
Finish your manuscripts—force yourself to keep writing even when you feel stuck. Read everything from award-winners to commercial successes (you can learn something from all of them). Write the next book, then go back and rewrite the first one. Get to know other writers by attending conferences and workshops. Join SCBWI. Meet industry professionals. Learn to take criticism and revise. Take yourself seriously. Persistence will pay off.

Can you tell us something about your writing life – inspirations, plans for the future, goals, etc.?
I absolutely love writing and can’t imagine doing anything else. As a debut author I’m working on figuring out how to balance a more rigorous writing schedule with my family life (I’m married and have two school-age daughters). I’m also learning how to market my books—and diving into the overwhelming realm of online social networking. I have so much to learn. And so much unfolded laundry!

Do you have any new writing ventures underway?
My first middle-grade novel, JUNGLE CROSSING, comes out from HM Harcourt on September 28, 2009 (that’s my very first writing effort). I’m also revising another humorous teen novel called SWOON AT YOUR OWN RISK (HM Harcourt/Graphia 2010). Oh, and brainstorming the next one…

Do you have a website where readers can learn more about MY BIG NOSE AND OTHER NATURAL DISASTERS? You can also check out my blog at


Fran said...

Another great review, Janet! I learn something new every time!

Janet Fox said...

Fran - you are so sweet. Thanks for coming by each time, too!

Debby said...

Janet, great interview. I love your questions--they really draw out the writer. And I am sooooo excited to read Sydney's book.

Janet Fox said...

Thanks, Debby. Sydney's book is fun - and a great teen read.