Monday, April 5, 2010

Voices You Should Hear: Sydney Salter

I've known Sydney Salter for a few years through SCBWI. She's charming and self-effacing - and talented. Her third novel in two years arrives in bookstores this month. I loved her first two and I'm really looking forward to SWOON AT YOUR OWN RISK. Here's more about both Sydney and SWOON....

Your newest book, SWOON AT YOUR OWN RISK, looks like it has your trademark humor and teen-sensitive content. Can you tell us a bit about the novel?

In SWOON AT YOUR OWN RISK, I combined a cute neighbor (who just begged to be a romantic interest when he skateboarded down my street), a bad boating experience, and having my mother move in with me for six months. But I also wanted to write about a girl who let the boys in her life dictate her interests. I’ve known far too many women and girls who’ve done that.

Here’s a quick blurb: After a junior year of dating disasters, Polly Martin has sworn off boys. Now she's just trying to survive her summer job at Wild Waves Water Park (under the supervision of ex number three, Sawyer Holmes) and focus on herself for once.

You’ve managed to publish three books, all of which are garnering great reviews and an audience, in the short span of one year! Can you share some secrets of your success?

The secret to my success is failure. I never waited for a book to sell before starting the next one, and I think that taught me a lot about writing. Plus, I learned to appreciate the revision process. As a newbie, I thought I could skip that part. Ha-ha-ha. I was SO wrong.

My fourth manuscript, MY BIG NOSE AND OTHER NATURAL DISASTERS, sold first, followed by my much-revised first one, JUNGLE CROSSING. I submitted SWOON AT YOUR OWN RISK as a synopsis—it’s story number seven.

Next I’ll be starting my 9th novel. I’m grateful for all the manuscripts I’ve written because I have enough experience to know that I can finish and eventually make the story work. Hurray for revision! I’ll have tough days and doubt myself a million different ways, but I’ve learned how to push through all of those negative feelings and finish the first draft.

What is your working day like – are you a morning person or middle-of-the-nighter? Do you have some special habits (like listening to music? Or eating chocolate?)

First I drive morning carpool (a duty I share with my neighbor, picture book author Kristyn Crow). I race back home, start a pot of tea, and answer a few emails. Most days I’ll do a quick writing exercise to get my creativity flowing.

Listening to music makes me feel less alone while I write. Sometimes I’ll pick an album for my WIP, but lately I’ve just set my ipod on shuffle—and let me just say that I need to remove the holiday music, because listening to Bing Crosby croon “White Christmas” in April is just wrong!

I write, taking short breaks to play with my kitten, pet my dogs, or peek at my daughter’s tortoises (they look so cute with broccoli on their lips). I brew more tea—something about holding a hot mug in my hands helps me think.

At lunchtime I make a sandwich and catch up on celebrity gossip by watching Hot Topics on The View. And then I’m back to work until my 4th and 8th grade daughters get home from school. I do treat myself to a square or two of dark chocolate after I finish writing for the day, but before my girls get home—I’m terrible about sharing my chocolate.

Unless I’m on deadline or really close to finishing a revision, I try not to work in the late afternoon or evenings so I can pay attention to my daughters and my very sweet, supportive husband.

Are you working on something new? Can you tell us something about it?

I just sent my agent a YA about an art prodigy who wants to keep her painting private, but her dad hangs her artwork in his new museum exhibit for the whole world to see. And I’m researching manuscript number nine, but I’m not ready to talk about that one yet.

Please share any contact information with us.

Book Trailer:

Congratulations on such great success, Sydney! And thanks.

Much thanks to you, Janet. And congratulations on your fiction debut!


Denise Jaden said...

I can't wait for this book. I love Sydney's writing and she's a great inspiration as an author as well. It was great to hear of her writing/revision process.

Thanks for the interview Janet and Sydney!

Lisa Green said...

Sounds like you really have the teenage girl down to a science, Sydney. It sounds like having fun with writing makes for better writing - an idea I've subscribed to for a while now. :)

Janet Fox said...

Denise and Lisa - thanks so much for stopping by - I love Sydney's humor and sense of fun, too. And it shows up in her work.

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