Saturday, 27 June 2015

Getting to Know the Authors: Featuring Temple West!!

   Temple West, debut author of the YA paranormal romance Velvet, is as nerdy in real life as she is on the Twitter. Armed with a very shiny English degree, she spent four months in Oxford holed up at the Radcliffe Camera amongst the hush of ancient books and the rich musk of academia. Returning to Los Angeles, she acquired a concurrent degree in film, mostly as an excuse to write essays about The Princess Bride and Hook. She can sew (poorly), drive stick (please fasten your seatbelt), and mostly lift her feet off the ground while stuttering into first gear on a very small motorcycle. She currently lives in Seattle and is the proud mother to a one-year-old laptop and a vintage Remington typewriter.

She Has Written:
  First rule of dealing with hot vampire bodyguards? Don't fall in love.
   After losing both her parents before age seventeen, aspiring designer Caitlin Holte feels like her whole world has been turned upside down, and that was before the terrifying encounter with a supernatural force. Then, she learns that her hot bad-boy neighbor, Adrian—who might have just saved her life—is actually a half-demon vampire.
   Suddenly Caitlin is stuck with a vampire bodyguard who feels that the best way to protect her is to become her pretend boyfriend. Trouble is, Caitlin is starting to fall in love for real, while Adrian can never love a human. Caitlin trusts Adrian to keep her safe from his demon father, but will he be able to protect her heart?
Here are some places you can get a copy of Velvet for yourself:

Now on to the Interview!!
1) How old were you when you started writing, in your opinion?
First grade?  The first story that I still have in a box somewhere is a story I wrote in 3rd grade called "Attack of the Evil Candies." It was all about how the Red Hots were villains and they were in some sort of space ship trying to take over the galaxy.

2) What do you want a reader to gain from reading your works?
First and foremost I want them to simply enjoy the story.  Anything they get beyond that is icing on the cake.

3) What are your three top suggestions on becoming an author, or being a pleasure writer?
Get a lawyer or agent (some sort of representation), do your research (on your story, on your representation, on your potential publisher, and on the publishing process), and remember that if you're not shaping your career, someone else is going to.

4) What is your favourite novel, why?
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch.  It's the funniest, most well-plotted, tightly written, realistic fantasy novel I've ever come across.

5) Who is your favourite author, why?
Cross between Laini Taylor and Scott Lynch.  They're both fantastic at world-building and dialogue, which are two of my favorite elements of any book.

6) What are your favorite pass times besides writing?
Going to a real movie theater and getting a giant Coke and a giant popcorn and watching an awesome film with someone I care about.  I literally do that at least once a week.  Movies at the movie theater are my thing.

7) Who in your life do you credit your imagination to the most?
My parents were pretty instrumental in submerging me in great literature at a young age.  Also, I grew up in these sort of epic places.  When I was a kid I lived in Phoenix, and the desert and mountains and that huge, impossible sky are so beautiful you can't help but be inspired.  Then we moved to Seattle and my house backed up to a greenbelt.  All of us neighborhood kids would spend all summer back there running through the trees, building bridges over scum-covered ponds, finding random vacuum cleaners and bikes rusting away in the bushes.  It was heaven.

8) What are the top five things on your bucket list?
I don't know that I can list specific things.  It's more a feeling of...wanting to be full.  Wanting to live a full life.  I don't think that can really be summarized in a five-point list.  It's more of an every day perspective that I want to have.  I want to be happy.  I want to learn.

9) What is your funniest childhood memory?
Oh man, that's hard.  I had a pretty great childhood, and like, awesome older siblings.  Sometimes we would have burping contests.  Those were pretty great.

10) To the youth of today, if you could tell them one thing, what would it be?
Assuming the youth I am speaking to are aspiring authors, here's a few nuggets of advice:
Get a lawyer or literary agent to represent you before trying to sell your book. At the very least, secure one before you sign anything.  Once you get to the point where someone's interested in your work, things can move very quickly and you can be overwhelmed or pressured into signing something you're not comfortable with, or signing something you don't understand. In other words:
Never, EVER sign a contract without hiring a professional to review it, especially one who has experience with that kind of contract.  Getting your best friend's ex-husband's divorce attorney to review your book contract is probably not going to pan out well for anyone.
Be willing to say no. To a publisher, to a contract, to an agent, to a creepy date or to that second slice of cheesecake.  No is perhaps the most important word in an artist's vocabulary.  Not so that you can be a diva and demand things you don't deserve, but so that you can have appropriate boundaries in place for your career. One of three things will inevitably happen when you become an artist: your career will go nowhere, your career will go where [your agent, your publisher, your mother, your alien overlord from the future] wants it to go, or your career will go where you want it to go.  The reality is, it's entirely up to you.
Know your story -- have a logline, short summary, long summary, genre, title, and heck, maybe even a tagline ready to go. Know how to "pitch" your book in a succinct and accurate way.  In other words, don't waste an agent or publisher's time by not knowing what you're talking about.  This can be daunting, but a book called Save the Cat was tremendously helpful in teaching me how to think about marketing my own work.
Do research.  Investigate the parts of your story you don't know well -- perhaps that's naval history or statistical probabilities in high-stakes poker or ancient Celtic harvest runes.  Educate yourself in details so that your story feels authentic.  But also research your career.  Decide what kind of agent you want, perhaps even which specific human being you want your agent to be.  Research publishers, research book bloggers, research distribution methods and international markets and industry standards for contracts.  I'm not saying get a Masters in the minutiae of publishing, but educate yourself enough that you can hold your own in conversations with people at every stage of the publishing process.  Be active about your education far being the bounds of any classroom.
Treat your career like it's your career, and not a hobby.  This means taking yourself seriously.  This means investing time and energy into learning your craft and going after your goals.  Often, it means spending money. Again, I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to invest in things like lawyers.  You will never regret spending money on legal aid.  That being said, you're probably not made of money, so see Rule #5 and research which lawyer (or agent) you want to invest money in.
Shake it off -- and shake it up.  Keep getting rejected?  Keep writing.  But maybe try writing something different.  Try a new genre, a new POV, a new universe, even. Read more, analyze your favorite stories, dissect what makes popular things popular at certain points in history (why were the Beatles huge? Why was Justin Bieber? Why was Twilight?).  When something doesn't work, try something new.  When someone says no, do more research and try again.
It can all be whittled down to this: you are the master of your career.

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