I'm delighted to have on hand another of the talented members of the Class of 2k12, Joanne Levy, here to talk about her debut middle grade novel SMALL MEDIUM AT LARGE.
Congratulations on the publication of your novel, SMALL MEDIUM AT LARGE. I really love the title (and the cover!) Can you tell us a bit about the story and what inspired it?
Thanks so much, Janet! I’m getting so much love about the title and I have to tell you that it all started with that! I woke up with it in my head one day and it nagged at me for about a year until I figured I needed to write a book to go with it. I’m glad I followed my instincts!
Absolutely! And following your heart, too. How long have you been writing for children/teens? Have you written other books or is this your first effort?
I’ve been writing seriously with the hope of being published for about 9 years now, but it wasn’t until sometime in 2007 that I wrote my first YA. I’ve written several YA books that got some interest, but no sales. SMALL MEDIUM AT LARGE actually was first written as a YA (and was the twelfth book I’d written), but an editor thought my voice would be more suited for a younger audience, so, long story short, I rewrote it as a Middle Grade and it ended up selling, so I guess she was right!
Can you describe your path to the publication of SMALL MEDIUM AT LARGE?
It’s a very long one with a lot of winding and bumps along the way and just about no part of it was easy, linear or logical. SMALL MEDIUM AT LARGE was the only book I’ve never queried an agent on, but the one that sold. But, the agent that sold it, wasn’t the one who first shopped it, but she signed me on a different book that never sold. See what I mean? None of it makes much sense. I’ve had four agents and have been on submission more times than I care to admit with several different books, and have had more rejections than some people have had hot dinners. Honestly, my path would take hours to write out, but let me just say after a lot of trying and failing and dusting myself off, I got there.
And you've just suggested the key: persistence. Do you have any further advice for beginning writers?
If you’re just in it for the writing—then write. Enjoy the process and let it carry your spirit to magical places. BUT, if you’re looking to get published, it’s a different beast. Be prepared to fail. Be okay with failing, because you will learn and move forward from it (and will probably learn more about writing, too). Be strong and prepare to work your butt off and make sure you REALLY want it, because it’s probably going to be hard. And even if your first book deal is easy, the stuff that comes after will be hard. I don’t know anyone in this business, even the big-name authors, who hasn’t faced failure and hardship at some point. But stay hopeful: read Stephen King’s ON WRITING and learn how failure does not mean you will continue to fail. Fail. Step over your failure. Fail again, learn. Move on. Succeed.
Can you tell us something about your personal life – inspirations, plans for the future, goals, etc.?
I’d love to write full-time. But I also love eating, so until people buy enough of my books to make my pesky eating habit viable from book royalties, I’m stuck with a day job. That said, right now, my biggest goal is to keep writing and hopefully make people laugh and enjoy reading the silly stories I make up in my head. Oh, and I’d like to go on a cruise soon. I really need a holiday—that counts as a goal, right?
For sure. :) Do you have any new writing ventures underway?
I’ve just finished a funny rom-com YA about a tomboy. It’s called, uh, TOMBOY. No word on what’s happening with it yet, though. I’m also hoping SMALL MEDIUM AT LARGE will have a sequel, but I’m still not sure about that, either. So really, there’s not much to tell.
Best of luck with both of these! Do you have a website where readers can learn more about SMALL MEDIUM AT LARGE?
YES! http://joannelevy.com – for all the latest Joanne Levy news and other goofy stuff.