Thursday, July 26, 2007

08 CWIM Preview: Interview with Jo Knowles...

Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting previews of features and interviews that appear in the 2008 CWIM, which will be in stores in early August. (Just this minute Greg the Production Guy handed me two advance copies! A nice morning surprise.)

Today I offer an abbreviated version of my Q&A interview with debut novelist Jo Knowles. Jo's first book, Lessons From a Dead Girl, offers readers a powerful, often uncomfortable journey into the world of abuse and healing, chronicling the complex relationship between main character Laine and her best friend/tormentor Leah, who, Laine learns at the book’s opening, has died.

Jo's journey to publicat
ion was helped along by winning grants and awards including an SCBWI Work-in-Progress Grant for a Young Adult Novel in 2002, which attracted the attention of her agent Barry Goldblatt. And she won a PEN New England Children's Book Caucus Discovery Award in 2005, which lead to a contract with Candlewick. She's a member of the Class of 2k7 collective.

Would you recommend contests and grants to other writers pursuing publication?

Absolutely! There are so many good things that come out of applying for a grant. First of all, you have to write a synopsis, which is very hard but really forces you to think about your manuscript and what it’s about. I guess that sounds pretty obvious but when you do it for the first time, it’s like a revelation!

Second, I think submitting a sample of your work, say 10 pages, makes you look at those pages in a really intense way, through the eyes of the most critical reader you can imagine. Every sentence counts! Since doing this I now revise my manuscripts in roughly 10-page chunks, which usually translates to two chapters for me. I look at those chapters and work on how they stand on their own. It’s a great exercise.

Third, getting that call is the biggest thrill! At the time I got the call about the SCBWI grant I had been through some tough times in my personal life and was feeling pretty hopeless. I remember hanging up the phone and sitting on the floor and crying. It was wonderful! And then soon after that I received a letter from Barry Goldblatt (he’d read the notice about the grant in the SCBWI Bulletin) asking if I’d be interested in submitting my work to him. He’d only been in the business for about a year or so at that point, so I was really lucky! And then when I applied for the PEN award I’d sort of sunk to that hopeless place again. I’d had some close calls with revision requests, but I was beginning to feel like maybe I just didn’t have what it takes. A good friend of mine, Cynthia Lord (author of the Newbery Honor-winning Rules), encouraged me to give it a shot so I decided to take a chance on Lessons from a Dead Girl, a manuscript Barry hadn’t actually shopped around yet because I had nearly given up on it. I was totally shocked and thrilled when I got the call and found out I won.

Any tips on catching the eye of judges?

Hand in your best work. I know that sounds a bit simple, but really I think you have to make those first pages sing, just like the first pages of any book. How can your first sentence hook the reader? What would make the judge keep going? Read the pages out loud, have someone else read them to you, read all the first chapters from your favorite books and think about what it is that makes those resonate with you. Don’t just hand in any old thing for the sake of submitting. Respect the judges’ time and only submit if you have something you’ve put your all into. Also, follow the rules to a T. Don’t hand in more pages than requested. Follow the formatting guidelines. If the submissions say the excerpt should come from a completed work, don’t hand in something you’ve only written the first chapter of. Be professional.

You’ve admitted that you were a little nervous after sending me your manuscript to read. Are you apprehensive about your book arriving in stores?

Well, I’m a natural worrier but of course this is the biggie! I know that the subject matter of Lessons from a Dead Girl is a tough one, so there could be strong reactions to it one way or the other. This is a story that I felt had to be told though, and told with honesty, however painful or uncomfortable it might be. I look back to Robert Cormier and how brave he was to cut right to the truth in The Chocolate War and really in all of his books. He’s not afraid to write about ugly things. Ugly things exist. I think that’s the beauty of his work: he knows how to draw that curtain open and do it in a way that isn’t sensational, but real.

As a first-time author, were there any surprises during the publishing process? What has your relationship with your editor been like? With your agent?

It’s funny but I don’t think there have been too many surprises. The biggest surprise was getting an offer! My editor, Joan Powers, is wonderful. She is very straightforward, asks lots of questions, and trusts me to answer them in my revisions. I certainly don’t think she ever shied away from asking tough questions, and I really appreciate that. My agent, Barry Goldblatt, is terrific. He’s become a good friend who knows and cares about my career and me. Barry has a reputation for being “brutally honest” but I think I should set the record straight right now and say he also has a huge heart. You have to be honest in this business. That may sound harsh but dishonesty will only lead to disappointment later. Barry knows that, and I think by being honest up front he is giving aspiring writers a huge gift. Writing is hard, hard work. But if you keep at it, if you keep revising, keep listening to the feedback rather than feeling it, you will get better, and you will succeed.


Anonymous said...

情色電影, aio交友愛情館, 言情小說, 愛情小說, 色情A片, 情色論壇, 色情影片, 視訊聊天室, 免費視訊聊天, 免費視訊, 視訊美女, 視訊交友, ut聊天室, 視訊聊天, 免費視訊聊天室, a片下載, av片, A漫, av dvd, av成人網, 聊天室, 成人論壇, 本土自拍, 自拍, A片, 愛情公寓, 情色, 舊情人, 情色貼圖, 情色文學, 情色交友, 色情聊天室, 色情小說, 一葉情貼圖片區, 情色小說, 色情, 色情遊戲, 情色視訊, 情色電影, aio交友愛情館, 色情a片, 一夜情, 辣妹視訊, 視訊聊天室, 免費視訊聊天, 免費視訊, 視訊, 視訊美女, 美女視訊, 視訊交友, 視訊聊天, 免費視訊聊天室, 情人視訊網, 影音視訊聊天室, 視訊交友90739, 成人影片, 成人交友,

免費A片, 本土自拍, AV女優, 美女視訊, 情色交友, 免費AV, 色情網站, 辣妹視訊, 美女交友, 色情影片, 成人影片, 成人網站, A片,H漫, 18成人, 成人圖片, 成人漫畫, 情色網, 日本A片, 免費A片下載, 性愛, 成人交友, 嘟嘟成人網, 成人電影, 成人, 成人貼圖, 成人小說, 成人文章, 成人圖片區, 免費成人影片, 成人遊戲, 微風成人, 愛情公寓, 情色, 情色貼圖, 情色文學, 做愛, 色情聊天室, 色情小說, 一葉情貼圖片區, 情色小說, 色情, 寄情築園小遊戲, 色情遊戲, 情色視訊,

Anonymous said...


自拍偷窺貼圖區,視訊交友90739,內衣美女寫真,維克斯論壇,av片,本土自拍照片,176視訊聊天,聊天,搜樂論壇,交友聊天室,無名正妹強力版,109辣妹自拍,檳榔西施自拍照片,kijiji奇集集,pc交友,愛情公寓聊天室,珠海自拍寫真,ut女同聊天室,735聊天室,情色小站,免費情色小說,小瓢蟲論壇,金瓶梅情色文學,後宮電影案,69成人,自拍美女聊天室,聊天ukiss tw,小弟第貼影片,熟女裸體貼圖,kavo,ut 聊天室,後宮色情電影,a片天堂,a片影片,淫蕩少女貼圖,丁字褲美女影片,麗的情色,視訊聊天,人妻自拍貼圖,免費看aa片,