The kid lit community is typically a welcoming and nurturing place, and one individual who epitomizes this for me is the author Lisa Schroeder. She’s kind, sincere, generous with advice, and an excellent writer to boot. I was delighted to learn that we share an editor in the wonderful Christy Ottaviano who published Lisa’s latest middle grade novel, The Girl in the Tower (Christy Ottaviano Books/Henry Holt). I love Lisa’s books and I love Christy’s books, so I will definitely be reading this newest one for sure!
What have you been working on since The Day Before?
Lots and lots of things! I even painted my office and got a new desk since the last time we visited. This picture was right after the redo. I wish it looked this clean now, haha.
Asfar as books go, I’ve published three YA novels in the past five years, the latest called All We Have is Now (Scholastic), and a bunch of MG novels, including two out this year: Sealed With a Secret (Scholastic) and The Girl in the Tower (Henry Holt).
I think the YA market has changed a lot in the past five years, with more and more publishers really wanting books that crossover well for adults, and I don’t necessarily write that kind of YA. Mine have always been written with the true teen, and the young teen at that, more in mind. So I’m glad I’ve also been writing middle-grade the last six years, as those books, generally, are selling better. At least my realistic, contemporary novels anyway. This year has seen my first foray into fantasy, with a fairytale type book, and I think this may be a more difficult market than I’d originally anticipated. I wonder, too, if people think it’s just another Rapunzel, but it’s actually quite different.
Here’s the book trailer for The Girl in the Tower, which includes lovely artwork by the talented artist Nicoletta Ceccoli.
Have your work habits/routine changed in the past five years?
I still like scribbling in notebooks. Here’s a page from my idea journal where the original seeds from The Girl in the Tower came from.
I still outline most of my MG novels while I am more of a discovery writer with my YAs.
As far as routine, one thing that’s changed is after quitting my full-time job back in 2010, I’ve now gone back to work part-time. I really find it’s best for my mental health to get out of the house and out of my head and do something else a couple of days a week. The business of publishing can be a bit (or a lot) crazy-making at times. Everyone thinks the dream is to have all day to write, but it can be so isolating. For me, I love getting out, interacting with people, and feeling appreciated in a way I don’t when I’m home by myself.
Any newfound wisdom to share?
Every writer should read Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert. It’s so good, and I look at it almost every day, because it really speaks to me. For anyone else who might need this, I’ll share it here too.