Welcome to my new feature “Students Want to Know” 🙂 This feature involves my students, current and those that have graduated, interviewing 2011 debut authors. I’m extremely excited about this because I love connecting my kids with authors and exposing them to great new books. Fortunately, I’ve made a great friend in 2011 debut author Gae Polisner (The Pull of Gravity, May 2011) and she’s helped connect me with the Class of 2k11 and some of the Elevensies.
I’m happy to kick off Students Want to Know with the author of XVI, Julia Karr. Thank you so much, Julia, for participating with my students. I hope all of you enjoy this interview 😀
Summary of XVI (From Goodreads): Nina Oberon’s life is pretty normal: she hangs out with her best friend, Sandy, and their crew, goes to school, plays with her little sister, Dee. But Nina is 15. And like all girls she’ll receive a Governing Council-ordered tattoo on her 16th birthday. XVI. Those three letters will be branded on her wrist, announcing to all the world—even the most predatory of men—that she is ready for sex. Considered easy prey by some, portrayed by the Media as sluts who ask for attacks, becoming a “sex-teen” is Nina’s worst fear. That is, until right before her birthday, when Nina’s mom is brutally attacked. With her dying breaths, she reveals to Nina a shocking truth about her past—one that destroys everything Nina thought she knew. Now, alone but for her sister, Nina must try to discover who she really is, all the while staying one step ahead of her mother’s killer.
- Which was harder, coming up with the plot or writing in the minor details for each chapter?
Answer: Fleshing out the plot was the hardest. I basically knew where I wanted the story to go, but sometimes my characters had other ideas. So, I would follow their little tangents, which often changed the plot. Minor details are a little easier once the whole framework is done.
- What inspired you to write XVI?
Answer: I wrote XVI as a National Novel Writing Month novel (NaNoWriMo.) I’d had a mental picture pop into my head a couple of days before November 1st, and that’s what I used as my jumping off point. That mental image was my inspiration.
- How much money do authors receive per book?
Answer: Not nearly as much as you’d think! Very few authors make the megabucks of a J. K. Rowling. Advances for young adult novels range from $1 to $1/million, with most being a whole lot closer to $1 than $1/million. Most authors are not full-time authors and, like me, hold down full-time day jobs. Authors are definitely not in it for the money!
- Would you ever consider writing a dual author book?
Answer – I think so. It would really depend on who the other author was.
- Did you ever feel like giving up on writing XVI? If so, why?
Answer: I had moments of discouragement, but not so much about the writing, more about the waiting to find put if editors were interested in taking it on.
- What does it feel like to work on a book for such a long time and then see it in book stores?
Answer: Probably one of the most amazing feelings ever! Also, kind of surreal. I’m not used to it yet!
- Will you sell the rights to the book’s products if any are made? I heard J.K. Rowling has full rights to Harry Potter and she gets a portion of everything sold involving him.
Answer: I am fortunate in that I have an awesome agent, Kate Schafer Testerman of kt literary, llc. Kate handles all of the rights for my books and any products from them. Since I write sci-fi dystopia, most of the things people might want as products haven’t been invented yet. Maybe someone will invent them and give me credit!
- Are there any 2011 debut authors you’ve become close with?
Answer: Several. Although we haven’t met in person – yet. I blog with four other debut sci-fi/dystopian authors: Beth Revis (Across the Universe), Angie Smibert (Memento Nora), Elana Johnson (Possession), and Jeff Hirsch (The Eleventh Plague.) I’m also in two other groups of 2011 debut authors – The Class of 2K11 and The Elevensies. There is a lot of crossover between these groups. And, I think they’re all pretty amazing writers and people!
- What kind of schedule do you keep when you’re writing?
Answer: I write every day. My goal for this year is to write at least 500 words every day. The best time for me is early morning, but I can’t always drag myself out of bed to have additional time before heading out to work. So, a lot of my writing is done late afternoon / early evening. I’ll just say – I had my cable service turned off. TV is a major time suck for me. So – no TV = more writing time.
- What was your life like before you became a published author?
Answer: Pretty much the same as it was before. I’ve been writing every day in some form or another since 1992. Now I just have more responsibilities surrounding the writing. But, it’s worth it!
- What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
Answer: I love to hang out with friends. Watch movies. Walk my dog. Play with my cats. And, I like to go out to eat!
- If you were stranded in the desert with five books, which would they be (not including your own)?
Answer: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling and The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett