Student success is one of our favorite things at StoryStudio. This year we have four students publishing their first YA/MiddleGrade Novels! Big congratulations to Amelia Brunskill, Madeline Reynolds, Lauren Whalen, and Jessica Pennington. They’ve taken time from their busy writing lives to answer a few questions for us about their journey.
This week, Lauren Whalen chats about her experience with the YA publishing world.
We love the title of your upcoming novel! What’s the story about?
SATELLITE is about a boy, Levon, and a girl, Harmony, who meet at age seven while backstage at The Nutcracker ballet in Chicago. Their dads fall in love and move in together, and Harmony and Levon grow up as brother and sister – until junior year of high school when their dads break up and Harmony and her father move to Los Angeles. While Levon gets more serious about ballet, Harmony falls in love with a girl for the first time, and both of them have to deal with their sudden separation and more than one family secret.
What was your publishing experience like?
I had a very roundabout publishing journey, to say the least. I signed with an agent in 2014, and a year later, she went on indefinite hiatus for personal reasons. By then, most of the major publishers had rejected my book, so finding another agent was going to be difficult, to say the least. I began submitting SATELLITE to small publishers (I think I Googled “YA publishers” or something broad like that) that didn’t require agency representation (as the major publishers do): the catch is, because anyone can submit, smaller houses take a LOT longer to get back to you, if they get back to you at all. By spring of 2017, I’d started to get published writing for adults and had basically stopped writing YA – then World Castle Publishing emailed me and offered me a contract!
What inspired you to write a YA novel?
I hate to sound like a hipster, but I really was the adult in the YA section before it was cool! I really love the genre and how it’s evolved over the years, from Judy Blume to JK Rowling. My favorite YA authors write contemporary books: Sarah Dessen, Susane Colasanti and Garret Freymann-Weyr were three major inspirations. I wouldn’t want to be back in high school, but I never get tired of reading about first love, best friends and beginnings. My main characters, Levon and Harmony, are both at a real crossroads in their lives, and I wanted to write about that crucial time that shapes who you are as a person.
What StoryStudio classes would you recommend to a writer friend?
I’ve been taking classes at StoryStudio since 2008, but Novel in a Year was the real turning point. I was part of the very first cohort in 2012, and then was selected again in 2015. In 2012, I’d written the first draft of SATELLITE and was working on the second draft. I’d written YA novels before then (and had come close to getting an agent a couple of times).
SATELLITE felt different, bigger, but I felt stalled in the revision process. I’d taken a one-night class with Rebecca Makkai and knew I wanted to work with her further, so when Novel in a Year was announced, I applied right away!Rebecca and my fellow writers were so thorough and thoughtful, and SATELLITE became the book it is thanks to Novel in a Year. I recommend StoryStudio to every writer I know!
When can we buy SATELLITE?
I will let you know! I recently completed final edits and now it’s in the hands of my publisher. For updates, you can follow me on social media (Facebook: Lauren Emily Writes, @laurenemilywri on Twitter, and @laurenemilywrites on Instagram), or check my website. I’ve already had a cover reveal and reading event, and I will definitely be having a launch!
*Update* SATELLITE will be released on December 4th! Pre-order your copy here.
Ready to write your own novel? Check out our newest advanced programs —Novel in a Year: YA and Middle Grade led by award-winning author James Klise and Novel in a Year: Revise and Launch led by award-winning author Abby Geni. NOW ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS!