November Author Series

We couldn't let November pass us by without one last author interview. So far, none of our authors have featured main characters over the age of twenty (in their published or about-to-be books, anyway). That's about to change. We know a lot of our followers write for adults - and we're certain we all read genre books at least occasionally - so we're offering up our next interviewee for you. Her book comes out fall, 2011 from MIRA.

**cue drumroll, please**

Rebecca Coleman

Tell us about your book. It's called "The Kingdom of Childhood," and it's about a middle-aged kindergarten teacher-- female-- who has an affair with a sixteen-year-old student at her private school. It's a provocative,
character-driven story, and I loved the process of writing it.

What's the best thing about writing? The most rewarding thing is when a character comes alive for me to the
point where it's almost hard to believe he or she is imaginary. Once I get to that point, the writing really flows, because I understand his or her motivations and nothing about the story needs to be forced. I think it's the writing equivalent of "runner's high."

What's the worst thing about writing? How do you deal with that part and keep writing? Writing is like sex and pizza-- even when it's bad it's still pretty good, and all that. Any day I'm writing is a day playing in the sandbox. It's the business side of it that can be no fun. When you're at the stage where you want to be published and aren't yet, the rejection is the worst part. Some people take it really personally. You have to remember it's the book they're rejecting, not you. You even have to think and talk in those terms-- not to say "that agent rejected me," but to say "that agent rejected my book." Writers know that words matter, and the words we use to talk about rejection matter, too. But where all the submitting and querying stuff is concerned, you just have to compartmentalize it and let it be its own thing that doesn't impact your love of writing or your motivation for it.

What do you want our followers to know about you and your journey towards publication? Mine was kind of unusual in that I published two novels with a smaller publisher before I got an agent who sold "The Kingdom of Childhood" to Mira. When that book sold, I wasn't a debut author, but I wasn't a known quantity either. I think the unexpected part about that sale to Mira is how hard I struggled for it. The fact that I already had two published books was irrelevant-- I didn't even mention them in my query because I worried my sales numbers would put off agents rather than attract them. So I was starting from square one like everybody else, and nothing about it was easy. I was incredibly determined. I think it's too common for writers to get morose and fatalistic about the process, and complain that it's rigged or unfair. I got pretty
jaded, but I didn't have the energy to grouse about whether or not it was fair, because I was too busy working to get published.

How did you break it to your family/friends/etc. that you wanted to be an author? The reactions to telling people you're a writer can be pretty amusing. Everyone either thinks you intend to be self-published, or they tell you they'll see you on Oprah. Apparently the highest accolade you can receive as a writer is to get the approval of Oprah. My friends have all been very encouraging. Five or six years ago, I was working on my first novel and printing out a lot of copies, which I'd end up recycling as art paper for my kids, who were really young. One time we went to the birthday party of my best friend's stepdaughter, who was about eight years old, and my daughter drew her a picture on the back of one of those draft pages. When the stepdaughter opened the envelope, she looked at the drawing, then turned the paper over to read the back. I guess she thought it was a card. I looked over her shoulder just in time to realize my daughter had drawn the picture on the back of a sex scene. I snatched it out of the kid's hands and passed it to my friend, who proceeded to pass it around to every adult at the party. Moments like that keep my job interesting to my friends.

What is the planning process like for your novels? Do you outline? Do you jot down notes? It varies from novel to novel. With "The Kingdom of Childhood" it felt like building a rose out of frosting, like for a cake-- starting with a tight little bud, and then adding the petals all around the center, so it gets larger and fuller and much bigger than what you started with. For the one I'm working on now, I fully outlined it before I started, and that has advantages and drawbacks-- it's nice to know where I'm going, but it removes much of the element of excitement that comes when you first think of a scene and need to get it down immediately. I have actually written about eight novels either in full or in part, and my planning process is all over the place. It's just like disciplining kids -- what works for one completely fails with another.

Thanks, Rebecca! Congratulations on finding the light at the end of the (writing) tunnel!


  1. WHAT? No Elephant question? BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

  2. Great interview! Sounds like a really good story. And a hard one too actually. Rebecca sounds like a really neat person!

  3. It can't be easy writing a controversial story. My hat is off to her for doing it!

  4. oh I love this interview, I like the hilarious bits and the fact that even when you write a bad scene its still good because you are writing. there are loads of people who only stop at the intent stage.

  5. Thanks so much for the interview, Rebecca! I particularly like what you've said about your planning process. I haven't done a ton of writing and only outline a little bit. Most of it's in my head. I enjoy hearing how it works for other writers. Especially ones who've found success! christy


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