Writes: YA Fiction
Represented by: Ginger Clark of Curtis Brown.
Debut novel will be published by: Text Publishing
Release Date: September 2010.
Writes the popular blog: Hey! Teenager of the Year
Resides in: Victoria, Australia
Jody: You are fifteen. Is this true or false?
Jody: I still can’t believe it. A book deal at 15! I did not have the confidence in myself to think of beginning an actual writing career or the patience to write a novel at fifteen. I’m impressed, to say the least. How did you get so involved in reading, writing, and blogging?
Steph: Even though my parents aren’t fiction readers themselves, they read to me a lot when I was young, and when I was little my mum worked in computers, so I’ve always had lots of books and new technology around me. I’ve been writing since I was very young, and everyone has always encouraged me, though it’s something I’ve done totally independently.
Jody: I’ll be honest; it’s kind of confusing to think of you as fifteen and as a professional YA writer. I don’t mean that to sound negative at all–It’s just rare and fascinating. How does it feel? Is it annoying when people make a “thing” of your age? Or, is it kind of confusing for you too?
Steph: To be entirely honest, I don’t really act my age. I do school by correspondence, and I’m very independent and self-driven. I don’t really tend to drink alco-pops at parties or upload unattractive photos to Myspace or do other fifteen-year-old things. It probably is confusing for other people, but it isn’t for me – I’m just me! And this is something I’ve been working towards for a long time, so none of my family or friends were particularly surprised, though new people I meet are.
Jody: Can you tell us about your journey to getting an agent/book deal? I understand you had not one, not two, but three agents vying for your manuscript.
Steph: An author friend who I got to know through my blog, Sara Henry, read my manuscript and encouraged me to contact agents she knew in the US. I queried three, and entered a Secret Agent contest on a blog as well. From that, I had three offers of representation. I spoke to all of the agents on the phone, and eventually signed with Ginger Clark of Curtis Brown. After doing a revision with Ginger, she sent my novel out on submission in Australia & the US. I got to meet a few of the Australian publishers who were interested, and then the ANZ rights went to auction. (Me through the entire process: Stress, stress, worry, stress.) Then I signed with Text Publishing.
When it’s distilled like that it seems very easy and quick and painless, and I assure you, it was not.
Jody: Okay, so about this book. Congratulations on this huge accomplishment. Can you blurb us a little? What is it about and is there a title yet?
Steph: It isn’t properly titled yet – still working that bit out! And a blurb isn’t quite ready yet, but I will tell you three things:
1) It begins with a girl saving a boy from drowning
2) It features a garden gnome thief and two ridiculously tall child prodigies
3) It is hopelessly romantic. It’s so unlike me that it’s kind of stupendous that I managed to write something so romantic.
Jody: Do you have any writing routines or rituals?
Steph: I write on my laptop, in my room, late at night. I need a bottle of water, have a piece of toast and a cup of tea before I start, and my novel soundtrack playing. Then I’m in my writing zone!
Jody: What is your favorite part of the writing process? Least favorite part?
Steph: I love all parts of the writing process, though revisions and edits are easiest for me, because I know where the story is going (I usually don’t when I’m writing the first draft). My least favorite part is probably when I’m in the middle of a first draft and start freaking out because I don’ t know what to write next and I’m thinking, “Why on earth did I want to be a writer in the first place?”
Jody: Here’s a hard one: What makes you fall in love with a story?
Steph: The characters. I love character-driven novels, and even the most brilliant plot doesn’t make up for a story with two-dimensional characters, for me at least.
Jody: Name three things you’d like to do before you die that don’t have anything to do with writing.
1. Travel. Widely. I want to go all over the world. I’ve never been outside of Australia.
2. Have a family of my own. Of course this isn’t something I’m going to do for years and years, but family is something really important to me.
3. Sing in public!
Jody: I hope I’m there when you sing in public! Awesome. Thanks so much for this interview, Steph. I’m a big fan of garden gnomes and I’m excited to read your book. Find out more information about Steph Bowe at her website.