Picture drawn by Maggie Stiefvater, 2009. Header made by S.F. Robertson, 2010.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Fresh New Voice of YA- Interview with Lish McBride

1) How did you get the idea for Hold Me Closer, Necromancer?

I wrote a short story in alternative school when I was bored (I didn’t last long in alternative school) about a fast food guy who kept getting bombarded with these terrible customers who also happened to be vampires and werewolves and such. The story was awful, but I thought it was funny. Then I put it away and didn’t think about it for about five or so years. I found a local college that had a creative writing program and I joined. When I was trying to find stuff to work on for classes and to use for my portfolio to get into graduate school, I thought of that story and decided to redo it. That’s where Ramon, Frank and Brooke came into the picture. The story was still pretty awful—the characters were flat, but there was enough to it that a few people told me to keep working on it and maybe turn it into something longer. Somehow, I got into a graduate writing program, and I worked at the writing thing and got better and kept thinking about Sam. Things just kept evolving. I’m not sure when I decided to have him be a necromancer. Probably when I threw in the zombie attack (which was later cut).

I’m not really sure if that answered your question or not. My ideas come from lots of places—lack of sleep, creature encyclopedias, over caffeinated discussions with my friends. I think a lot of books are written magpie-style with lots of little pieces coming in from everywhere.

2) What book(s) are you working on now? Can you tell us anything about them?

I’m editing a follow up to HMCN. Yes, there is a follow up. Holt was kind enough to contract me for a second book when I sold the first, which was very brave of them because the summary for book two was pretty vague and I think at one point I just put ‘hilarity ensues’. If they do well, I’m hoping I get to write more. Ensemble casts can be a bit of a headache, but the nice thing is that if I ever want to take a break and give one of the other characters a book, I can. I don’t want to say too much about book two because we’re still editing and so many changes are still being made, but Sam and his pals are back and you get to see more of Douglas’s house…and his gnomes.
I’m also working on an unrelated third project. I’m keeping that under wraps for now. Mu ah ha ha ha!

3) What was The Call for publication like? Tell us all about it!
So, I’m really new at this, you know? Which means that sometimes I don’t understand things properly. For example, I’d spent a week talking to different editors at various publishing houses. They were all very nice and had different visions of the book, which was cool, and I liked talking to them even though the whole thing had a bit of a surreal feel to it. The last interview I had scheduled was with Reka from Holt. We had a good conversation and her ideas for the book were great and very much in vein with the way I think. At the end of the conversation she said, “Oh, and let Jason (that’s my agent) know that I had a meeting with the requisition committee so he should be hearing from me soon.” I said okay and pretended to know what she was talking about. So when I checked in with my agent I told him all about the phone call, ending with her comment about the committee. He got all excited and said, “Why didn’t you mention that sooner!?! You don’t bury the lead like that!” At which point I had to remind him that I had no idea what the requisition committee was. My agent has been really patient with me and he’s great at explaining what’s going on. So much of the publishing process is shrouded in mystery for some reason and it makes it kind of hard to navigate. Anyway, he explained that meant Holt was putting together an offer. We accepted. It was a good offer, I liked Reka a lot, and quite simply, they got there first. I did a happy dance and told everyone I know. The whole thing still doesn’t feel real, to be honest.

4) Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Read constantly. You need to know what’s out there, and writers should always be learning and the best way to do that is reading. I don’t trust writers who don’t read. That’s like a mechanic who doesn’t drive and it’s weird. Write all the time. Keep it all, even the stuff you think is crap. You never know when you’re going to need something to work on, or when you might get an idea on how to fix something.

Find people kind enough to read your work, but strong enough to tell you what’s not working yet. A good reader is priceless. I have a handful of writers I bounce stuff off of, which is great and I love them, but I have a group of people that also just like to read and I bounce stuff off them too. (And when I say “bounce stuff off them” I mean ideas and chapters, not things like toasters. Don’t hurt your friends…or your toaster. Both should be treated with respect.)

Submit. Get rejected. Don’t take it personally. Sometimes, it’s just timing or finding the right editor. Revise—this is very important. Good writers revise. Great writers revise and submit some more. Never give up, never surrender.

5) What book(s) are you reading now, or are about to start?

I have a fantastic stack waiting for me now that my last round of editing is off in Holt land. I’m going to start Terry Prachett’s new Tiffany Aching book (love, love, love Prachett) and I have two collections in my pile: Zombies vs. Unicorns and My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me, both of which look really good. Also the new Dexter book, Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde, and some Eoin Colfer. I’m partway through a Colin Dexter book—I have a strange obsession with PBS mysteries, and I love the Inspector Morse series that are based on his books. So I decided to pick those up. I find mysteries to be kind of soothing lately, especially if they’re the more “cozy” kind. I think it says something about my stress levels. Anyway, I’ve also been listening to a lot of Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers while doing dishes (I’m not anti audio book). And of course, I’m reading some comics, too. My friends just lent me some Goon graphics and Scott Pilgrim (I’m a little behind with that one) and I’ve been reading Fables. I read a lot. I just finished the latest Parasol Protectorate book by Gail Carriger, and I’m hooked. I’m anxiously awaiting the new Kelley Armstrong book of course, and the new Riordan. I’m like a book junkie. Oh, and the new Dresden Files book—the cliffhanger he left us with is freaking killing me.

6) What's your favorite Jelly Belly jelly bean flavor?

There’s so many flavors now, I feel like every time I turn around there’s more and it makes me feel behind in the land of candy. I like watermelon and green apple, and I’m one of the weirdos that like buttered popcorn. I don’t eat them often, though, because they’re made with gelatin and I’m a vegetarian, but sometimes I make exceptions—like marshmallows for smores and jelly beans and gummi candy…I’m a terrible vegetarian. I tried the bacon one when they put out the Harry Potter flavors. I had to spit it out. A little too much like bacon. Okay, now I want jelly beans. Thanks.

7) In your bio, there's a mention of your love for movies, comics, and zombies. What are some of your favorite movies and comics? Also, whose brand of zombie is your favorite?

I don’t think you want to ask me this question because I will go on, and on. I love pretty much anything Edgar Wright touches. (Spaced, Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim…) Better off Dead, So I Married an Axe Murderer, The Three Amigos (I love Steve Martin), Monty Python, Wet Hot American Summer, Clue, Ghost Busters, Goonies, Black Sheep (the weresheep movie out of New Zealand, not the Chris Farley one), I love Mel Brooks, Labyrinth, Legend (but not the director's cut where Lily keeps singing), the Evil Dead movies, the Muppet movies…this list is kind of endless and it changes all the time. I’m also trying to get my life to be more like Joan Wilder’s from Romancing the Stone. Either that or Jessica Fletcher’s from Murder, She Wrote, because I think that would freak people out.

Man, comics are just as bad. I loved The Tick growing up, and Usagi Yojimbo. Preacher is amazing, but dark as hell. I’m a bit obsessed with the online comic Questionable Content, and you have to love Penny Arcade (also online, though they have graphics now). The Walking Dead is great, but it depresses me, so I had to stop reading it. We have them all though, because my man-friend is obsessed. I like the comic renditions of the Anita Blake series and the Dresden Files ones, of course. Fables has been pretty awesome, and I love Sandman. As my friend Danny would say, Neil Gaiman sort of rocks my waffle. Squee, Johnny the Homicidal Maniac and I Feel Sick, Marvel 1602, Bone, Castle Waiting, Hellboy, Battle Pope, My Monkey’s Name is Jennifer, and I read some Wolverine, Batman—the Killing Joke was great, and I loved the origin stuff they did a few years back on Wolverine and the Fantastic Four (where they made them teens), and Spiderman and Gray Hulk…with super hero stuff, it’s hard for me to keep track since it usually is whatever my friends bring over and tell me to read. I really like Alan Moore and Frank Miller, but I have to read them in small increments because they depress me. The Civil War books were pretty interesting. Ugh, I need to stop talking now. I feel like I’m leaving stuff out, though…

Favorite zombies, huh? I tend to lean towards funny, as you might have noticed. I love zombie films but my problem is that biological zombie movies pretty much always end with everyone dead, so it’s hard for me to commit to watching something where I know everyone is going to die. It’s a numbers game—when you add a highly contagious virus to a population, odds are pretty high everyone is going to get it. Or get eaten. That being said, I loved the set up in Shaun of the Dead and Fido, because it sort of brings the whole zombie thing to a constructive place. (Zombies are our friends!) I really liked Wild Zero (Japanese zombie film) but that’s because the singer of Guitar Wolf attacks the mother ship (alien space crafts somehow spread the disease) with a samurai sword and the main character Ace just really wants to be cool. Plus, Ace is adorable and everyone keeps shouting “Rock and Roll!”. I liked BioZombie because it has a great scene where a zombie keeps giving these cheesy figurines to this girl he’s in love with. Ultimately, though, I think I prefer magical zombies because you don’t have the same numbers game. I was really sad when they cancelled Pushing Daisies because I thought it was an amazing show and I liked the idea that you could bring anyone you touch back for one minute. Plus, there was lots of pie. I love pie.

1 comment:

  1. I must admit, I want to read HOLD ME CLOSER, NECROMANCER just because "Tiny Dancer" is my favorite Elton John song. But this excellent interview doesn't hurt.