Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Interview With Hilary Wagner & Signed ARC Giveaway

Hello Friends,

Behold...TWO posts in two days! (the devil must be ice skating) 
I know, it's a Festivus Miracle. 

Because today I bring you my interview with the lovely and delightful Hilary Wagner, author of the NIGHTSHADE CHRONICLES. 

Last week the second book in the series, THE WHITE ASSASSIN was released.


Book II in the Nightshade Chronicles begins three years after Juniper and his rebel band of rats liberate the Catacombs and defeat their oppressors.
A sense of peace has settled over Nightshade City, but it is a false one. Billycan, the white assassin, has been found. Deep in the southern swamps, he now rules a primitive horde of savage swamp rats eager to overrun Nightshade City and claim it for their king. With the help of an ancient colony of bats and an uneasy alliance with the swamp snakes, Juniper and his Council set out to thwart Billycan’s plans. When an old secret is revealed—one so shocking it shakes both Billycan and Juniper to the core—the fate of Nightshade City and the life of Juniper’s only son depend on Juniper’s decision: should he help his mortal enemy? The past resurfaces with devastating impact in this exciting sequel to Nightshade City, a dark tale of intrigue, deception, and betrayal.
Nightshade City, Book I of the Nightshade Chronicles is a CBC Best Book of 2011 and a Crystal Kite finalist.

Okay, let's have a little chat with Hilary, shall we? 

Hi Hilary, it's lovely to have you here. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Lola, thanks so much for having me! Hmmm...about myself, where do I begin? Here is the nutshell version: I was born in raised in Chicago. I love big cities, spending time with my husband and little ones, and I'm a bit of a reality TV junkie. I prefer museums to long walks on the beach, and I'm terrible with directions of any kind! My favorite foods are sushi, risotto, baked goods, and junk food galore. I freelance for National Geographic School Publishing and in my spare time I sleep! ;)

Oh, you know I'm happy to have you, love. (also, now I'm craving sushi) How did you come up with the idea for this series?
The Nightshade Chronicles was not an idea I had bouncing around in my head. It forced itself upon me and had to be written! Nightshade City (Book I) actually started as a picture book, but after writing the first page I realized it was far too creepy to be a picture book, so it instantly became a middle-grade novel and grew organically from there, one scene at a time. 

Can you tell us about your journey to getting published?

Here is the short version. I received roughly 175 rejections on Nightshade City over the course of about 14 months (as you can imagine, it was a painful process), two offers of representation (I received one offer after I already signed with Marietta Zacker of Nancy Gallt). Marietta sold the book in about 7 weeks. It was very exciting that the sale moved so quickly after I was signed. It took me so long to find an agent. I was terrified when I went on submission that it was going to be the same long agonizing wait. And for those of you still on the agent hunt, never write off an agent you initially don't hear back from. From when I queried the Nancy Gallt agency, to when I got the offer, it took a good 8-9 months. It was a very long process, but a very rewarding one, so stay at it and keep querying!  

An excellent example of hanging in there and NOT GIVING UP, Hilary.  
Outline or Wing/Pants It?  (If you do outline/plan, please share with us your outline/planning process.)
What is this strange and exotic word you speak of...outline

What is your writing process like? Do you have a ritual? Do you listen to music while you write? 
I have no ritual other than keeping the TV on in the background very, very low--just a murmur of voices. Dead silence makes me nuts! Sometimes I do like music, as long as it's instrumental and dark and stormy in nature. In other words, I would never be able to write to Justin Beiber! I'll write anywhere I can have my laptop out, from up in bed late at night, to my son's karate lessons! Have laptop, will travel--and write! 

(Dude, that is the first time the name Justin Beiber has been mentioned on this blog.) 
How do you balance writing with a full-time job and a busy family?
Actually, it sort of balances me! What's the expression, 'if you want something done ask a busy person to do it'? That really describes my life. It's very chaotic sometimes and I write when I can, usually very early or very late, but I manage to get it done. It's something I'm driven to do, and when you're that driven by something, you'll find the time. I mean really, who needs more than four hours of sleep a night anyway? ;)

I always say "we can sleep when we're dead". (it's 1:04am right now, as I write this post) 
Tell us, what have you learned with regard to revisions?
That they are painful! No, just kidding...sort of! Nightshade City edits were relatively straightforward, and then came The White Assassin, which was anything but straightforward. Despite how tough the edits were, it was a valuable experience, which made me grow as a writer. Several scenes were cut, because my editor and I decided they'd be better in Book III, and several scenes were rewritten completely for that reason. Characters were added, taken away, and the plot was totally switched at one point. I'd say over half the book was rewritten in order to make it the very best it could be, and I would have rewritten the whole thing ten times over if necessary. Editing is tricky work, especially with a second book in a series, because it needs to be individually great, not just a nice continuance of Book I. My editor, Julie Amper, told me that and no matter how many books I write, I will never forget it. I've read second books that paled in comparison to the first, and I didn't want The White Assassin to fall into the "so-so" category. That was my biggest concern throughout the process.

What can we expect from you next?
I'll soon be starting edits with my editor on Goblin Shark Rising (Fall 2012). It's an undersea adventure that takes place in modern day Tokyo. As I'm sure you've guessed from the title the book involves goblin sharks (among others)! I'm thrilled about this novel. Not only will kids get to meet a lot of sharks and other mysterious sea creatures, but they'll get to discover Tokyo and learn about the Yōkai, a group of Japanese demons, ghosts, and monsters--very electrifying stuff! This book required loads of research, but so worth it!

Okay, that was fun, right? 

Wanna have MORE FUN? 
Perhaps you'd like to win a signed and doodled (by Hilary) copy of THE WHITE ASSASSIN! Because I'm giving one away. (International) Contest ends 10/27.

1) All you have to do to enter is follow my blog (can I see you happy avatar on my sidebar widget?) and leave a comment on this post. It's that simple. 

2) Want extra entries? Also simple:

    Go visit Hilary's blog and follow her-1
    Tweet about this giveaway (@LolaSharp)-1
    Follow me on Twitter-1
    Follow Hilary on Twitter-1
    Blog about it-2
    Follow me on GoodReads-1
    Follow Hilary on GoodReads-1

(please tally your points in my comments section and leave any links)

Good luck!



Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Lola and Hilary .. great interview - makes me want to read the book too and I know Lenny loves your stories, Hilary = a great recommendation.

Very interesting and fun read - and as you say it's a long road, but so worth it .. congratulations on your 2nd Chronicle .. The White Assassin .. and generally all the very best - cheers HilaryMB

Old Kitty said...

Thank you lovely Lola for Hilary's interview! I'm so thrilled that book two is now here!! It's humbling to learn too about Nightshade's long road to publication - but it truly does illustrate how you should never give up on your dream! Yay!! Good luck everyone with the giveaway! Take care

Jemi Fraser said...

Great interview - I'm always so relieved when I hear other writers are not outliners! :)

My copy's on the way, so don't enter me in the contest - good luck to everyone else!

Kelly Polark said...

Great interview! I had no idea that NC started as a picture book!
And Hilary, I"m terrible with directions too!!
Congrats to Hilary! I'm so happy for her!!!
I'm tweeting about your contest right now, Lola!

Hilary Wagner said...

Lola, thanks so much for having me today on your awesome blog! I can't wait to see who wins the book...and my doodled rat!

xoxo -- Hilary

Susan Fields said...

I found it very encouraging to hear about Hilary's road to signing with an agent. I'm in the process of querying right now, and it is such a long and painful ordeal. Thanks for a great interview Lola and Hilary!

Matthew MacNish said...

Not that I don't love sushi, because I do, I ADORE it, but personally, now I'm craving risotto. YUM!

★ Sara McClung ★ said...

OMG SUSHI. *craves so so deeply*

I love Hilary, and I loved Nightshade City! I can't wait to read TWA--and also, now I'm pumped for some goblin sharks!

For reading, not as sushi.

Melody said...

Whoa, 175 rejections? I tip my hat to you, Hilary! You are a definite inspiration! :) Many congratulations for not giving up!

A.J. Mullarky said...

You are an inspiration. That is perseverance if ever I saw it. Well done.

Please enter me in the giveaway :)

Anita said...

I'll do all of the above until I get distracted...probably around the following you on Goodreads :), because I want to read these books!

Christa said...

Great interview. I love Hilary. AND she lives in my town:)

Carolyn V said...

What a great interview! Hilary is amazing.

Claire said...

Hi Lola, just returning the favour in the PIF blogfest of Alex and Matt's. Great interview :) I have 5 points (followed you & commented, followed Hilary, followed you both on Twitter and will tweet in a min). Yay!
Looking forward to reading more of your writing too.
Lovely to 'meet' you :)

Portia said...

Can I just say how much I love this title, Goblin Shark Rising? Great interview, Lola :-)


Anonymous said...

Fantastic interview. It was interesting to read more about Hilary, her publishing journey, and her writing.

I can't wait to read about goblin sharks.

Jon Paul said...

I just realized I am so far behind cuz I still haven't had Justin Bieber mentioned on my blog. Where will I find the time!?!?! :D

Seriously, awesomely groovy interview. Just stopping by to say I threw a little blurb out over at my place, so perhaps the one and a half followers I have will come see you. ;)

How goes the NaNo preps? Ready to get ur a$$ kicked? *picks up gauntlet, takes a bite, chokes* :D

Have a rockin' Thursday!

Lydia Kang said...

Hilary is a powerhouse! The new book with goblin sharks sounds amazing. :)

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

I'm super ecxited to read White Assassing! Gotta get my ratty fix, natch

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

sigh. yes i spelled Assassin wrong... I'm so ashamed

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

I read The White Assassin too...You are way kinder than I am. I'm keeping my signed copy... Good luck to everyone who enters.

Lenny Lee* said...

hi miss lola! cool interview. i love miss hilary!! shes a way good writer and just a real nice lady. for me i way lucky cause i already got a signed arc and a hardback of the new book and i got a signed hardback of the first one. she gave me the first one for my birthday last year and the new one for my birthday this year. wow! how cool is that! rats rule!!!
...hugs from lenny

Hannah Kincade said...

I just stopped by to say hi...HI!! ;)

May your pen be mighty

May your pen be mighty

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Lola Sharp
My name is Lola. (I'm not a showgirl) Yes, L-O-L-A Lola. It's the least of my worries. Let's move on, shall we? This blog is mostly about my misadventures on the journey to publication and beyond. My passion for lush prose, quirky characters, art, music, literature, performing arts and anything creative will be a major theme here. This journey of mine will not always be pretty. Much like rubbernecking a train wreck, I know sometimes you just can't help but look at the carnage that is often my life. So strap on your neck brace, helmet and 5-point harness and come along for the ride! Licentia poetica.
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