If there’s one difficult subject a writer has to deal with in the young adult genre, it’s virginity. Sara Hantz, however, takes it in stride with her book ‘The Second Virginity of Suzy Green.’ Today, Sara stops by to talk about her writing style down under.
Thank you for joining me today for my Wednesday Writer’s Write series, Sara!
Lets start off with the basics. What is your brainstorming process for a new book?
I usually start with the grain of an idea, or sometimes just a title. Then I phone one of my critique partners and we talk about whether there’s something there and maybe come up with ideas to develop it. After that I’ll write a short paragraph to see if I can get the motivation and conflict sorted. At this stage my critique partners and I will usually debate the merits of it and this often means I go away and try to refine it a number of times. Once the paragraph is written, I set about outlining the whole book. I’m a planner, so need this depth before I can start writing. Once again, it goes out to my critique partners and we discuss it. Then I go away and write a scene spreadsheet, so I know exactly what’s happening and when. Then I start to write. Although this seems a very rigid process, I don’t let it constrain me. If, when I’m writing, I’m taken in a different direction, that’s ok. I just adjust the outline.
Can you explain your typical work week day?
We have a motel which is pretty much 24/7, from when we get up until we go to bed. Having said that, there are lulls. So, I open up my manuscript in the morning and dip in and out of it all day. I’m lucky that I don’t mind being interrupted and can get straight back into what I’m doing. My motto for any work I do is ‘little and often’ . That way I don’t have to spend ages trying to get back into something because my head’s still in it!
Tell us about your big break in the writing industry.
My big break happened when I got fed up with my crit partners not doing as I suggested and writing a young adult novel and so decided to write one myself. Previously I’d been writing chick lit, with some success in contests but the agent/editor thing eluded me. I had an idea for a book and after writing the first three chapters did what you’re told not to and queried agents. I wanted to see if the idea was saleable. Anyway, I got an amazing response from agents asking for both partial and full manuscript. I then worked really hard and had the manuscript ready within a couple of months. I was offered representation almost immediately and it sold within a couple of months. The title was changed to The Second Virginity of Suzy Green.
What suggestions do you have for aspiring writers?
Don’t take rejection personally. We all get rejected all the time. All it means is that your work isn’t right for that particular agent or editor at that particular time.
Tell us about what you’re working on right now and what we can expect from you in the near future.
I’m working on a middle grade book about a girl who decides to change her image. My agent is currently shopping a young adult novel about two ‘warring’ teens.
We look forward to seeing more from you, Sara. I love the idea of ‘warring’ teens. 🙂 Thank you for joining me today at ‘Writers on Writing!’ It was a pleasuring having you. Next week, Ally Carter will be stopping by, so we’ll see you then!
Sara Hantz is an author of fiction for young adults. Her debut novel The Second Virginity of Suzy Green was published by Flux on September 1st 2007. Hantz grew up in the UK and now lives in New Zealand with her husband and Labrador where she is currently working on her next book.