This week, The 5 Randoms interviewed not one, not two, but THREE young adult authors. The wonderful E. Lockhart, the fabulous Sarah Mlynowski, and the awesome Lauren Myracle stopped by to talk about writing their book How to be Bad, the “call,” and how Law and Order can help you become a butt-in-chair writer.
1) Did writing a collaborative book go faster or slower than your single-author books? Also, what is the best and the worst part of working on a collaborative book?
Emily: First draft faster. Rewrites EPIC. The best part is that other people write 2/3 of the book! The worst part is when Lauren does her galloping dance.
Lauren: Ha ha. Emily is trying to provoke me, but failing, because she is the one who taught me the galloping dance, which is quite saucy and involves lassoing in a strapping cowboy type. Hmm. Perhaps learning the galloping dance and other nonsense was the best part of working together!
Sarah: Best part is the sharing—the highs and lows—of the publishing process. There is no worst part! I wish I could write all my books collaboratively.
2) What is the part of the writing process you hate, and what coping mechanisms do you employ to get through it?
Lauren: I only hate it…and even “hate” is too strong…when I’m over-committed and feel like a hamster on a wheel. To get through it, I breathe. And do the galloping dance.
Emily: Honestly, I love my job. Not a lot of hate here. The coping mechanism I employ for stressful times is to call Sarah and have her tell me what to do.
Sarah: I hate first drafts. So I TiVo hundreds of episodes of Law & Order and leave them on in the background while I write them. This tricks me into thinking I’m not really writing.
3) One of the number one things writers hate to do is revise, and they’re looking for an “easy answer.” That said, what is your revision process like?
Emily: I love to revise. It’s just putting in jokes and cutting out boring bits and shining everything up and making it good. It’s first drafts that are agony. Our revision process on How to Be Bad was very complex, though, because we were rewriting each other’s chapters, or at least commenting on them. And we all had a lot to say. Then the original writer of the chapter had to work on it with feedback from the co-authors AND the editor — which was sometimes dizzying. But it made the book much stronger.
Lauren: Dudes. You have to revise. That is where the beauty is. I used to not revise, and guess what? I used to not get published. And then I learned that revision is a big love fest where I get to MAKE THINGS FRICKIN’ BETTER, which is extremely satisfying.
Sarah: I am a lazy reviser. I send my books to Lauren and Emily and ask them what I should fix.
4) Authors talk about “the call.” Usually, it has to deal with getting an agent or getting published or getting an accolade. What was the best “call” you ever received in terms of your writing, and how did it go down?
Lauren: Ha. I thought you were going to say that writers feel “the call” much as ministers feel “the call.” And my brain was already spinning, thinking, “Eee gads, did I feel the call? Did Flannery O’Connor speak to me from the dead? Or Jesus?” So, um, yeah. Think I’ll turn this one over to the less ridiculous of my cohorts.
Emily: How to Be Bad went to auction. Meaning a bunch of publishers bid on the project. I had never had an auction before. I spent all day checking email every five minutes while simultaneously on the phone. It felt like some kind of fantasy of what publishing is like, rather than how it usually is.
Sarah: Ooo, that was fun. Auctions are awesome. My best call was from my agent telling me that Wendy Loggia at Random House wanted to buy Bras & Broomsticks. She called my agent two hours after she got it.
5) It looks like you all have been having a ton of fun promoting this book. Have you learned anything from this tour that you’ll do to promote your next single-author book?
Sarah: We did have a lot of fun! I love these girls. Sorry, ladies! Women! They do not like when I call them girls.
Lauren: I don’t mind when you call us “girls.”
Sarah: From Emily I learned to bring lots of postcards and bookmarks. She is always very prepared. Oh, and I also learned to not leave my flip-flops on the beach because someone will steal them. From Lauren I learned to take lots of pictures and video and to be nice to everyone. Lauren is very very very nice.
Lauren: True dat. And I learned from Sarah that it’s okay to ask for a better room at the hotel if they stick you in a closet. From Emily, I learned all about class and dignity, baby. And I learned that I now have two dear friends forever and ever, and I can show them the “real” me (has to happen on a three-week tour), and they will still love me. I learned, frankly, that I am an amazingly lucky lady-girl-woman.
Emily: I learned that one should always travel with Sarah and Lauren. Otherwise, who will drive? Who will buy me lipgloss? Who will get me into fancy airport lounges and figure out what restaurants to go to and make hilarious videos during long car rides? Really, I do not want to promote a book without these women ever again.
For more Emily, visit her blog.
For more Sarah, visit her site.
For more Lauren, visit her blog.
And for all three of these lovely ladies all at once, visit them here.