Courtney Summers took time to talk to The Randoms this week–because, c’mon, who wouldn’t want to? Her latest, Cracked Up to Be (St. Martin’s Griffin, 12/08), has just come out. Read on about how writing can sometimes make her want to curl up in a fetal position and about how if an agent calls you with a book deal and no one’s around to hear it, did it really happen?
1) What is your typical writing day like?
A typical writing day for me often involves an epic battle between me and the internet where I’m like, “Release meee pleasee I have to writteee,” and it’s all like, “Noooooo don’t you have to check your email one more timeeee,” and then 13 hours later, I get to work. I do nearly all of my writing at night–usually from ten in the evening to as early as seven in the morning. That just seems to be how I roll.
2) Why did you decide to write YA?
I really love the immediacy and intensity of YA. It keeps me coming back, book after book after book.
3) What is the biggest surprise you’ve experienced when it comes to book publishing?
When you put yourself out there as a writer, there is absolutely no guarantee that anything will come of it. It’s a very vulnerable pursuit and the odds are against you, which is why I have such admiration and respect for those who write. So, really, the most surprising thing that I experienced was the actual sale of Cracked Up to Be. When I got that phone call from my agent, my brain totally popped. I was shocked.
4) Do you ever have any “dark days,” when you wonder why you’re a writer? What are those like, and how to you get through them?
Ah, self-doubt. I definitely have those days. You kind of just want to emo out in fetal position while you stare at your Word Document. It’s no fun. I have to remind myself they can’t all be good days, that the bad ones are a part of the process. In one of the writing communities I’m involved in, I remember a member saying, “You have to trust in the process.” So that’s what I try to do. I ride it out and write it out. I’m also very blessed to have wonderful friends and family who encourage and support me during the dark days–as well as the not-so-dark ones!
5) 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?
The best call I received was from my wonderful, wonderful agent, Amy Tipton, to tell me there was an offer on Cracked Up to Be. It was September 17th, 2007, and I wrote about it in detail on my blog (http://courtneysummers.ca/2007/10/my-book-it-sold/). I was really expecting a telemarketer when the phone gave its long distance ring (we were being innundated by them at the time), so I didn’t rush to pick it up, and when I finally did and saw the 212 area code, my hands immediately started shaking. For some reason, I expected bad news, even though the book hadn’t been out on submissions that long. When Amy said we had an offer, my brain just fritzed out. I was immediately incoherent. When she said the offer was from St. Martin’s Press, I remember watching my hand shakes take it up a notch. I was alone when I got the call–about five minutes before Amy called, everyone had left the house to do various errands and things–and after I hung up, I wondered if it’d actually happened, since there was no one there to witness it!!
For more Courtney, visit her site.