I'm back from a fantastic trip to Chicago and delighted to be able to feature Liesl Shurtliff on the blog today! Her debut, RUMP, is a take on the Rumplestiltskin tale - which happened to be one of my favorites as a kid. I am *really* looking forward to reading this one. Here's Liesl:
Congratulations on the publication of your novel, RUMP. Can you tell us a bit about the story and what inspired it?
Thanks! RUMP is a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin, but instead of the villain, he’s an unlikely, yet loveable hero. As for the inspiration, I was actually brainstorming another story idea when I imagined a world where names are much more than just a title, but a person’s destiny. Instantly my mind gravitated toward the Rumpelstiltskin tale, for if there was ever a name of great importance in a story, it’s that one. And yet, for the crucial role he and his name play in the story, we know so little of Rumpelstiltskin in the traditional tale. We know nothing of where he comes from, what his name means, how he learned to spin straw into gold, or why on earth he would want someone’s first born child. I wanted to tell a story from his point-of-view, not only so we would understand Rumpelstiltskin, but also love him. Shortening his name to Rump got me on the right track and everything grew from there.
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 goal to publish) for nearly ten years now. I wrote a little for newspapers and magazines, which was great experience, and then I turned to novels. I wrote two before I wrote RUMP, and they will both remain shelved for the foreseeable future.
I so agree that newspaper and magazine writing can be invaluable preparation for novel writing. Can you describe your path to the publication of RUMP?
I decided early on that I wanted an agent. It’s not totally necessary; I have friends that get books published with good houses without an agent, but it can certainly speed up the process and a good agent can help in more ways than just selling your work. I researched agents and the querying process while I was working on RUMP. (Querying is a skill in and of itself!) After a month of querying I signed with Michelle Andelman at Regal Literary. We revised together for a month before we went on submission, and then a month after that we had an offer from Katherine Harrison at Knopf. It wasn’t as hellish a process as some stories I’ve heard. Some of that is luck, but some is simply doing your homework, both in your craft and business.
Do you have any advice for beginning writers?
I would say follow your gut and don’t let anybody push you around too much. One piece of advice might be great for one person but totally wrong for another, so as you’re learning and sifting through all the advice out there, don’t be afraid to toss some of it out the window and figure out what’s right for your situation. There are “rules” in this business, but this is also a business that delights in a rule fantastically broken.
Can you tell us something about your personal life – inspirations, plans for the future, goals, etc.?
I’m a mother of three young children and it’s both a blessing and a challenge when it comes to writing. I’m extremely invested in both writing for children and the raising of my own, so it can be tricky to balance that. Thankfully I have an amazingly supportive husband and we manage it all pretty well.
One day I would really like to live in Europe, or at least go there! Everyone in my family has traveled there except me! (Talk about the black sheep of the family.)
Do you have any new writing ventures underway?
I am currently working on two new projects, one MG and one YA. I’m kind of shy about discussing works-in-progress until I know it’s going to work out. Not everything I write pans out, but I have high hopes for both projects. Fingers crossed as I write and I’ll be sure to shout it off tops at some point, so stay tuned.
Fingers crossed here, too! Do you have a website where readers can learn more about RUMP?
www.lieslshurtliff.com has all sorts of fun stuff, including a trailer for RUMP. Go check it out!
I did - and added it above - lovely!!