Oct 6, 2011

Anita Grace Howard and the splintery world of Wonderland

It's been a really great year for Anita Grace Howard but it didn't start out that way. Last December, she parted ways with her agent and hit a low point literally speaking. Then, in February, she received THREE offers of representation before signing on with superstar agent, Jenny Bent. (Read about that journey here.) And everything changed.

Jenny sold Splintered, a Gothic Wonderland re-telling to Amulet, who initially put publication at Spring, 2013. But yesterday, Anita got the exciting news her pub date has been moved up six months. Squee! *cue racing heart* AND, Anita is on sub for her newest MS, a gothic/literary romance called The Architect of Song. She's posted an amazing book trailer you shouldn't miss - click on her name above to watch. (BTW, if anyone knows how to do these, I would LOVE to learn. *googling how to make a book trailer*)

1. Now that you're on the pub list, share the deets about any research you did for Splintered. I ask bc there are a TON of books out there on Alice Liddell - including ones that suggest Lewis Carroll was a bit of a pedophile. Did you come across any of that? And did it affect your plot at all?

The main thing I did for research was re-read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll. I hadn’t read them in years and wanted to revisit how he wove underlying threads of eeriness into his nonsensical scenes and characters. My main goal was for this book to be a tribute to his genius, and to have the funkiness/creepiness evolve from subtle nuances to take center stage. I’m hoping it will inspire a whole new generation of readers to seek out the original. The actual idea came to me when I went to see the Tim Burton Alice movie. I watched it a couple more times while writing, so I guess that could count as research, too. I found a book called ALICE, I HAVE BEEN that clicked it all into place. It’s a historical fiction account of Alice Liddell’s life. The “pedophilic” rumors did not play a part in my story. Instead, I went strictly with the Alice Liddell slant. I needed something to tie my heroine into today's world, and some way to make the story different than it had ever been done. So I decided to have my heroine be a descendant of Alice Liddell. Everything else just came from my own warped imagination. :)

2.Fairy tale retellings are hot right now. Do you think there are specific rules to this subgenre? If so, what are they?

I don’t think there are any hard and fast rules. But in my personal favorite retellings, the author doesn’t make light of the original fairy tale. They’re less spinoffs and more adaptations. They make the most of the original author’s vision by giving the characters/details a deeper meaning. They expand on them, if that makes sense.

3. How many revisions did you do with Jenny?

We did a small revision at first, and then after a few passes, ended up cutting more wordage from the beginning of the book to get my heroine/hero to Wonderland faster.

Did the process help you identify your strengths/weaknesses as a writer?
I don’t really feel that it isolated any of my weaknesses. It was more of a nod to what publishers are looking for right now. Faster paced books with less set up and more punch.

4. How does that self-awareness help you now? Is it easier or harder than it was to write Splintered?

Ha. Ask me that in about a month or so. I’m just now starting a WIP, and this is the first thing I’ve written in about six months. I’m hoping I still remember how to write at all. LOL

5. For your next MS, you're branching out into adult. How will switching genres help your career?

I’d like to have both an adult and YA audience that can cross over. It’s a win-win, expanding my readership, and feeding my eclectic muse. I’ve always been drawn to fantasy/paranormal, but that is my one and only constant. Other than that, I like to spread my wings, and having books in both the YA and adult markets will allow me that freedom. It helps that I have an incredible agent who is rather eclectic herself. ;)

6. You've launched your author blog it is SO COOL. Thank you! It’s totally unofficial at this point. There’s still a bit more work to do. Talk about how that happened - did you hire a designer and if so, how did you choose one?

I design my own pages, just like I make my own book trailers. It’s a nice outlet for the more visual/artistic side of my creativity. My husband is my webmaster (although I suspect he does it just so I’ll call him master … heh). Right now, he’s learning all about animation because I have something very specific and cool in mind for my homepage. We’re hoping to have it ready for an official launch in a few months.

7. Does Splintered have any author blurbs on its jacket? If so, talk about the process of approaching an established writer to get a quote.

Too soon for this, but I’ve heard that both the publisher and the author can play a part in getting blurbs. I have a couple of author acquaintances in mind that I’ll be asking for props when the time comes. That’s another reason it always pays to network, online or at conferences.

8. When will your promotion machine kick into high gear?

It’s already started. The minute I signed w/Jenny, she told me to get a blog going and a twitter acct. What's involved for you as your book b-day nears? Blog tours, book tours, what?? I’ve joined a group called TeenShiver, a joint blog that promotes Texas YA paranormal authors. I’m hoping to use it (and line up blog tours/book reviews via some of my fellow bloggers).

9. Has your agent filled you in on what to expect as a debut author? Yes, in fact she wrote an amazingly detailed article on that very subject that I’d love to share. It’s here: What are your expectations? To work hard, and be flexible. To be diligent and professional. But most of all, to be grateful and never forget how hard it was to get here, so I’ll always be sympathetic/helpful to other writers still in the trenches and on their way to the shelves.

10. Best thing about being you right now.

I can finally look back at the last seven years of my life and know I was going in the right direction.
And worst thing...
When I look ahead seven years, I see the pressure of deadlines and advances to fulfill. Little nerve wracking, but totally worth it.

Fast five (questions to which you give fun, fluffy and erudite answers. All optional except for #5 bc I need suggestions for my Netflix queue.)

Favorite kind of sausage? Weiner dogs. They’re just so CUTE.

Biggest pet peeve while driving? People texting / talking on cell phones while driving. Unless it happens to be someone I’M texting/talking to.

Where you went on your last vacation? Unless you count the short time my sanity took a hiatus during the submission process (yes, I officially lost my mind), Kansas City, MO.

Historical character you'd travel back in time to meet? Christina Rossetti. Does she count as historical? I’d like to just sit at her feet and drink in her brilliance. NO ONE could write description like her. She’s my literary crush (but if you happen to leak that to Neil Gaiman, I’ll swear that you’re lying and he’s my one true love).

Best movie you saw last summer? The Fall. (HUGE fan of brilliant/vivid cinematography, and this movie had it in spades). Not to mention, there was an incredible soundtrack. Candy for the eyes and ears.

Speaking of metaphorical candy, Anita inspired the Casting Call bloghop (see button above and below) with this post, in which she puts her fashionista sense to work for her characters. Read it over and then get inspired...I did! Use that inspiration to sign up Monday over at Carrie Butler's blog to share your own casting call. What do your MCs look like? How do their personalities come through as you put together your cast? We'll have prizes and fun and it's only one post. How can you resist??


Sarah Tokeley said...

How weird, I just started following Anita's blog about half an hour ago, before I came here :-)

I enjoyed this, the book sounds wonderful. Thanks too, for the link to Jenny Bent's very sensible words!

Anita Grace Howard said...

Wow, Melodie! That title is wonderfully mad. And you did such a BEAUTIFUL job with this interview. So much research. I'm beaming right now ... BEAMING. One would think you do this for a living or something. hee

YOU ROCK. Thank you again for bestowing me the honor. And *waves to Sarah* I'm following you, too!

Angela V. Cook said...

Wow, you weren't kidding, Anita--those were some AWESOME questions! Great job answering them :o) It was nice to read something different and to find out something new about you ;o)

As always, wishing you all the luck for future success!!

Jess said...

I really enjoyed this interview! Splintered sounds awesome, and I loved hearing about your relationship with agent Jenny Bent! Thanks, ladies!

Anita Grace Howard said...

Sarah~ Thanks for stopping by my blog! And isn't that article by Jenny great? It's helped me so much with the beginning phases. :)

Angela~ Aww, thank you so much for coming and supporting me, #sparklypinkgoatprincess. I'm wishing you much success in the future, too! And I'll be right there to give you props.

Jess~ Thanks so much! Jenny is VERY classy and all around awesome. I feel so blessed to have her. :)

Iain said...

Whar a great interview! The excitement is almost palpable :o)

Emily R. King said...

Anita, I've been a follower of yours since I began blogging, and I have to say, I feel I know you better now. Thanks for the interview, ladies. I was already pumped to read Anita's book, and now I am even more!

Anita Grace Howard said...

Iain~ Thank you! And the excitement level is all due to Melodie's awesome questions. :) She's a great interviewer.

E.R.~ Such a lovely thing to say! Thank you. And I'm pretty pumped to get started on those edits, too. Ready to get the show on the road. ;)

Carrie Butler said...

This was a fantastic interview--both the questions and the answers. I loved reading Anita's insight, and I can't wait to read Splintered! :)

Anita Grace Howard said...

Carrie~ Aw, thank you! It's been a long and winding road for me. :) But worth all the sweat and tears. I'm so glad you're excited abt SPLINTERED!

Bethany Crandell said...

You think the book SOUNDS good...wait until you read it. I still get the quivers when I think of a certain winged man...grr...

Anita, you inspire me daily. I cannot wait for the world to read your amazing story!

And Miss Melodie...WHAT?! You're the paler version of Oprah with all these amazing questions. Well done!

Anita Grace Howard said...

Aww, thanks Bethany! Yes, Morpheus has the same effect on me. A mix between swooning and growling. Hee

Thanks for stopping by, dear friend!

Faith E. Hough said...

Great interview! Can I meet Christina Rossetti with you, Anita? :)

Anita Grace Howard said...

Faith~ Haha! You bet! Thanks for stopping by. :)