Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Wednesday Debut Interview: Any Way You Slice It by Kristine Asselin

Today's WEDNESDAY DEBUT INTERVIEW features Kristine Asselin, telling us about her new YA contemporary novel, Any Way You Slice It, which comes out this month!

First off, tell us a bit about yourself!

I grew up just south of Lowell, Massachusetts—and still live five miles from where I grew up. I’m a Girl Scout volunteer. I love Doctor Who and Harry Potter. My favorite band is America (best known for winning Best New Artist of 1971 and their best known hits of the 1970s Horse with No Name and Sister Golden Hair). I’ve seen them over 30 times. Basically, I’m a giant nerd—and not embarrassed to admit it!

I love food, music, and books.

I write Young Adult, Middle Grade, and nonfiction for kids. I love to do school visits, and talk to kids about writing.

Tell us about ANY WAY YOU SLICE IT. It sounds delicious. :)
AWYSI is about Penelope Spaulding who defies her parents and ditches shifts at the family pizza restaurant to sneak around and play hockey with bad boy Jake Gomes. The lies get deeper the more she plays, and she has to figure out how to come clean without losing everything that’s important to her.

It’s straight up light YA contemporary romance—and I like to think of it as having a sporty girl twist.

How long as this process taken for you, from the time that you began the first draft of this book until the date of its publication?

This was a quick one. My editor, Meredith Rich, accepted the idea from a pitch. I wrote the actual first draft during NaNoWriMo 2013—it’s coming out in April 2015. So about 18 months from first draft to publication.

What is your favorite part of the writing process? Your least favorite?
I really like the creative process, coming up with new plot lines and characters that work. But I don’t always love the rigors of getting that first draft on paper. I love the revision process—polishing the words until they shine. I love reading over the words after not seeing them for a while and saying, “Whoa, I wrote that? Not bad!”

That’s a spectacular feeling!

Yes, it is!
Every writer experiences some rejection and setbacks along the way. How did you learn to cope with them and move on?

I decided early on that I wasn’t going to take rejection personally. My first two agents left the industry, so by necessity, I’ve been through the query process several times. You develop that thick skin or you don’t continue.

In fact, over the years, I’ve sent over 150 query letters. It’s actually why I started my query critique service—because I wanted to help people write better queries. I signed with Kathleen Rushall of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency in August 2013, and I love her. She takes great care of me!

How did you find your publisher? What makes them a good fit for you and your book?
I found out about Bloomsbury Spark and Meredith Rich through twitter. She was just starting to acquire her list, and she requested another novel I was querying at that time through #PitMad (a twitter pitch contest) in May 2013. She liked my writing, and that relationship turned into her acquiring AWYSI from a one paragraph pitch.

I noticed you have written some children's books. How has breaking into YA been different?
It’s a completely different process. Believe it or not, I’ve been writing YA about the same length of time as I’ve been writing my nonfiction children’s books for the school library market—since about 2008. Those are assignment-based, freelance projects. My agent isn’t involved with those, and they are assigned to me on a case by case basis. I like taking on those projects periodically because they challenge me in a different way.

After signing a contract with a publisher, what comes next for a debut author? What have you been doing in these months between then and now?
For me, after I signed the contract, I actually had to write the book. That’s fairly unusual for a debut author; my situation is more similar to a sophomore project. Since I finished AWYSI, I’ve been writing the next book, I’ve taken some freelance projects, worked on promotion.

Tell us about your book cover. Who designed it? How much say did you have in it? How do you feel about how it reflects your story?
I *love* my book cover. Ashley Poston is the designer. She’s also a fellow Spark author, which is so cool. I was very involved in the decision-making. They originally gave me 12 or 13 different options, and we narrowed it from there. The existing cover was my favorite from the beginning. The colors changed a bit, but it stood out immediately. The girl IS Penelope. I also love that it doesn’t scream hockey—I wanted to the book to be about Penelope, not about hockey.

Tell us about your title. How did you choose it?
When I pitched the book, there wasn’t a title. Between my agent, Kathleen Rushall, and my editor, we brainstormed about 30 titles. ANY WAY YOU SLICE IT was our collective favorite.

It really was a team effort!

What's next for you after this debut? What are your plans for the future of your writing?
My next YA contemporary is in the hands of my wonderful agent—we hope to have news about it soon. It’s another sporty girl book. I’m also working on a contemporary middle grade novel. I do a lot of school visits for my nonfiction, but I’d love to start getting out to schools to talk about fiction and creative writing (shameless plug to teachers and librarians, I *will* travel!)

How does it feel to finally have your book out in the hands of readers? Do you have any events planned you want people to know about?

I’m absolutely thrilled to have this book out in the world. I’m so proud of it. I’ll be at the New England SCBWI conference (April 24-26) after my launch date and can’t wait to celebrate—both my agent and editor will also be there, so we’ll be partying all weekend! I’ll also be at New Jersey SCBWI in June.

I’m planning on doing some workshops for the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts around the theme of good sportsmanship because of the sports theme in the book. I’m excited to talk to girl athletes.

For my launch (which is April 21), I’m asking people to post pictures of themselves eating pizza or playing hockey and tag me, with the hashtag, #AWYSI. Can’t wait to see all the pizza! Yum!

What a fun idea!

Is there any other advice you'd like to pass on to others pursuing publication? Anything you would have done differently?

My biggest piece of advice is just to persevere. Take opportunities to learn your craft; attend workshops, meet industry pros face to face—if you can. Keep writing. Celebrate the small victories along the way—and enjoy it.

And, just for fun, what celebrity do you think would enjoy your book?
Ooh. I’d love say David Tennant (the 10th Doctor), but he’s not the target demographic, so it’s not likely.

Thank you so much for your participation in this Wednesday Debut Interview and congratulations on your debut!

Thank you so much for having me!

Order Any Way You Slice It here!

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