Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Wednesday Debut Interview: Secret of the Sevens by Lynn Lindquist

It's Wednesday again! Time for another Wednesday Debut Interview! Today, we're talking with Lynn Lindquist about her YA Mystery debut, Secret of the Sevens, which will be released June 8.

First off, tell us a bit about yourself! What's one thing people might not expect about you?
I wrote this book after reading an article about how teen boys don’t read anymore. Both my sons are reluctant readers (I always say this is more proof for my switched-at-birth theory on them). Anyhow, I asked them, “What kind of story would it take to get you to read a book?’ They answered “something with sex, sports and things blowing things up” (a thousand dollar bribe might have also been mentioned). When I asked for a serious suggestion, they said something involving a conspiracy theory or secret society set at a high school… that also had sex, sports and things blowing up. So I wrote it. I didn’t get all of it in there, but you’ll have to read it to see what I came up with.

How would you describe SECRET OF THE SEVENS in one sentence?
Take a deep breath…

“A senior at a boarding school for kids from troubled homes accepts an invitation to join a secret society, expecting parties and pranks, but instead finds he must solve a decades-old murder involving the secret society in order to save his school from closing.”

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?
It took me over two years to write the SECRET OF THE SEVENS and another two years to see it in print, so 4-plus years altogether.

Was Singer, the boarding school in your story, based on any particular location?
Singer was based on two real boarding schools that help kids from underprivileged and troubled homes- The Milton Hershey School and Mooseheart Child City and School. The Milton Hershey School was founded and funded by the chocolate tycoon who started the Hershey Company. Mooseheart is funded by the Moose organization. The Mooseheart campus actually borders my neighborhood, and I used to drive past the front gate and think, “This would be an awesome setting for a book.”

What part of this book did you most enjoy writing?
The romance scenes between Laney and Talan. I loved watching their relationship deepen as their true feelings were revealed. I hope my readers like it, too. Kirkus Reviews said, “At the end of the day, it’s Talan and his endearing combination of bravado and vulnerability, coupled with the crackling chemistry he shares with Laney, that will keep readers turning the pages. A satisfying read for secret-society fanatics and romantics alike.” I guess their reviewer is a romantic, like me.

Every writer experiences some rejection and setbacks along the way. How did you learn to cope with them and move on?
Truthfully, I’ve had a lot of tough times in my life to overcome, so rejection over a book really didn’t seem so devastating. For my first manuscript, I queried 60 or so agents who rejected me before Katherine Boyle finally signed me, and then that first book never sold. But fast forward two years later, and Flux bought the SEVENS. The rejection honestly made the experience even sweeter. In life and in writing, the secret is to always have hope and be prepared to start over when things don’t work out. I used to quote Babe Ruth to my sons: “It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.”

How did you find your publisher? What makes them a good fit for you and your book?
My agent pitched Flux Publishing and my editor (Brian Farrey-Latz) connected with the story. Flux is a young adult imprint for Llewellyn, but my story is a little different from their usual releases, or so I’ve been told. I honestly think selling a story is 99.9 percent luck- you have to find an agent that loves your novel who then pitches it to an editor who likes your style and is in the mood for your specific storyline at a particular point in time when the marketplace is asking for it. That’s just better odds than being struck by lightning at the exact moment you win the Powerball.

Your cover is quite chilling! Who designed it? How much say did you have in it? What do you want it to tell your readers about your story?
Oh boy, I hope my editor isn’t reading this. There were actually a few tears spilled over this cover. Brian and I came up with another cover first that I totally adored. I even had a poster made of it for my office (yeah I know, I’m a dork). Then a major bookseller requested a change and a new cover had to be rushed. Honestly, I was very unhappy with the change. The artwork is beautiful and all, and the artist is obviously very talented, I just feel like it’s wrong for my story.

But I had to defer to my publishing house on this one.

Tell us about the title: SECRET OF THE SEVENS. Was this the original title you'd had in mind? If not, what made you change it?

My first title was Resurrection of the Sevens, then I changed it to Return of the Sevens. Brian and crew at Flux finally settled on SECRET OF THE SEVENS, which was fine with me. I think they thought Return of the Sevens sounded like a sequel.

What's next for you after this book debuts? Have you started working on another book?
That first novel that never sold (that I spoke of above) will always be near and dear to my heart for personal reasons. It deals with anxiety disorders and OCD (and romance, of course), and I believe it could really help kids. I’d love to see it in print, but we’ll wait and see if it ever sells.

Since I finished the SEVENS, I’ve also started two other stories, but I’ve been sidetracked by an awesome new YA project. The problem is that I’ve never written nonfiction and it’s a true story. It’s a great story and I really want to do it justice, so I’m very intimidated by the prospect. Of course I never wrote a thriller/mystery before the SEVENS either, so I’ll probably give it a try and see how it turns out.

Good luck with that!
So 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?

Scary. It feels very scary. LOL. I am very tenderhearted and really want readers to love it. But I assume that’s a natural reaction. Right now, the only public events I have planned are my blog tour.

Is there any other advice you'd like to pass on to others pursuing publication? Anything you would have done differently?
I can’t remember if my agent told me this or I read it somewhere, but it’s true. When you’re done writing your story and you think it’s absolutely polished and awesome, go back through one more time and delete every single chapter that isn’t absolutely necessary to forward your plot. Then when you are certain you are done, go back through another time, and delete every paragraph that isn’t absolutely necessary to your plot. Then when you’re done with that, go back through again and delete every single word that isn’t absolutely necessary to your plot. You’ll be amazed how trimming out so much actually improves your story and pacing. Not to mention that your agent and editor would have made you do that eventually anyway.

And, just for fun: your main character, Talan, is a high school senior in this book. If he had to pick one song to describe his class, what would it be?
More Than Fine by Switchfoot.

Thank you so much for your participation in this Wednesday Debut Interview!
Thank you so much for hosting me.

Buy your copy of SECRET OF THE SEVENS here!

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