Introducing another member of the extraordinary class of 2k12, debut author Sarvenaz Tash, author of THE MAPMAKER AND THE GHOST. Once again a fascinating title - I love magical realism! - and I'm thrilled to have Sarvenaz on my blog.
Congratulations on the publication of your novel, THE MAPMAKER AND THE GHOST. Can you tell us a bit about the story and what inspired it?
This is going to sound very Stephenie Meyer of me, but my main character really did come to me in a dream. I woke up with the name Goldenrod Moram in my head and wondered who would have that name: immediately, I thought of a young girl who was annoyed that her name sounded like she should be a fairy tale princess.
I was also inspired by things from my own childhood, namely The Goonies and the books of Roald Dahl and the very kid-centered magical realism vibe that they both share.
I'm a big believer in dreams! How long have you been writing for children/teens? Have you written other books or is this your first effort?
I’ve long wanted to do it and I wrote some kid-oriented TV scripts in college. It was almost 5 years ago that I decided to focus on writing novels for kids by taking a Gotham writing class. THE MAPMAKER AND THE GHOST was technically my first effort, but I wrote another MG in between starting that one and selling it. I’ve also completed one more MG and have bits and pieces of other works, including an adult novel and a YA.
Can you describe your path to the publication of THE MAPMAKER AND THE GHOST?
I started taking Gotham Children’s Writing classes in 2007 and that’s where I started the first draft of THE MAPMAKER AND THE GHOST (to give you an idea of how different it was, there was no ghost in any of the first 26 drafts of this book – seriously).
In 2008, I attended the SCBWI conference in New York and I got some much-needed encouragement from superagent Jodi Reamer, who read two pages of the book and was very, very kind about them.
By 2009, the teacher at the Gotham class I was continuing to take had decided to become an agent. She (very excitingly) offered to take me on as a client. At that point, I had written MG #2, which is what we went out on submission with.
MG #2 didn’t sell, but a few editors were interested in my writing and one, in particular, liked my voice in a humor blog I was keeping at the time. I suggested we submit my original humorous MG (MAPMAKER) to her, since the voice matched.
Although she liked the submission, it was too short for her to buy as is. So she very, very benevolently agreed to edit on spec with me. Incorporating her ingenious notes, I handed it back to her in March of 2010. And by August 2010, I had an offer!
What a great story. I love both the persistence you showed and the coincidences that worked. Do you have any advice for beginning writers?
If writing fulfills you and makes you happy; if even when you try not to, you can’t stop doing it; write and work hard and don’t be afraid to dream of it taking you places. But don’t do it as a means to an end. For it to be worthwhile, the writing itself should be enough of a joy (even if sometimes it’s the most horrifyingly frustrating thing in the world) -- everything else that might come with it is gravy!
Can you tell us something about your personal life – inspirations, plans for the future, goals, etc.?
Well, I got engaged a couple of months ago and am getting married in the spring. I’m finding wedding planning a welcome distraction from some of the anxieties of launching a book. J
Congratulations and best wishes to you both!! Do you have any new writing ventures underway?
I have a completed MG that’s out on submission and am (very slowly and painfully) chipping away at another MG and YA.
Do you have a website where readers can learn more about THE MAPMAKER AND THE GHOST?
Yes, indeed! They can find me at sarvenaztash.com.