This is a random collection of frequently and not-so-frequently asked questions.
When is your next book coming out?
I am just about to release my first novel for adults - a romantic comedy called CHEATING ON MYSELF. This is my first book for adults, and I'm so excited about it. I've spent the past few years working on it, and I hope my adult fans love it!
I am also excited about my next book for little kids, the second in a series for younger readers, called THE QUIRKS. The first book (The Quirks: Welcome to Normal) was published in June 2013. The second book (THE QUIRKS IN CIRCUS QUIRKUS) comes out in February. I'm writing this series under a different name, since these stories are very different from my teen and tween novels - more information can be found at erinsoderberg.com.
The book after my Quirky middle-grade novel is a book for tweens. I really enjoyed writing this one, since it's about a mean girl and she does not have a filter when it comes to speaking her mind. The details:
Erin Downing's BEST FRIENDS (UNTIL SOMEONE BETTER COMES ALONG), about a mean girl trying to change her reputation, to Fiona Simpson at Aladdin, by Michael Bourret at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management (world)
What are you writing now?
I have just finished up the third QUIRKS book (THE QUIRKS IN THE QUIRKALICIOUS BIRTHDAY HUNT).
Do you have an agent?
I am represented by Michael Bourret of Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. He is very smart, very calming, very savvy, and very patient. Also, he lives in Los Angeles, which is very ooh-la-la.
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Honestly, no. But there are a few things I have always wanted:
1) Not a traditional desk job.
2) A job that rewards a bizarre imagination and making things up.
3) A lifestyle that encourages reading.
4) A career that celebrates imaginary friends.
4) A job that would allow me to keep my nose ring in.
I didn’t really, truly start writing until my 20s. I was a book editor first and swore I wasn’t one of those editors who was secretly slaving away as an editorial assistant to get my big break as an author. But as soon as I left my job as an editor, I missed it. I missed working with authors to shape their characters, I missed futzing with plot to find and develop a hidden scene, I missed the fun that comes with making a book out of…well, nothing at all, other than your own inner crazy. So that’s when I started writing my own stories, and I’ve been hooked ever since.
So, is this your real job?
Until August 2010, I worked for Nickelodeon doing retail marketing and business development (schmoozing about kids' brands--awesome, right?). My schedule was: work all day, hang out with my kids all evening, and start to write sometime around 8 pm almost every night. I am so lucky that now I'm able to stay home with my kids and write while they're at preschool in the morning. It's a lot to juggle, since I'm with the kids the majority of the day, but my quality of life has improved 100% since I left my day job!
Where do you get your ideas?
Everywhere. I get inspiration for book concepts from National Public Radio, the news, eavesdropping at the library. I steal character traits and names from my friends, people on the subway, and the guy in line in front of me at the coffee shop. I borrow plot and dialogue from the doctor’s office, overheard cell phone calls (come on, when you chat in public, you know everyone is listening, right?), and my own twisted imagination. As a writer, I’m always on—always listening for something that might inspire an idea or a scene.
I’m a writer. What advice do you have for me?
Question: Do you just want to write because you love writing, or do you want to publish your work?
If you just want to write because you love writing, then do that. Find the time, and write every day. If that’s impossible, schedule time in for writing a few times a week, the way you would a favorite TV show or a movie with a friend. The hardest part is getting into the habit, and I know it is very easy to find so many excuses for why you don’t have time or why you’re scared or whatever.
If you want to be a published writer, then there are some other things to think about. Of course, you still need to write. It’s easy to dream of fame and fortune and your name on the cover of a book…and never write a word. I’ve been there. But you do actually need to write, and you need to write a whole book. Then you need to revise the whole book. And sometimes, you need to give up on that book and write a different book. If you don’t like that concept, then writing is not for you.
You also need to be aware of the market for the genre you write in. I think the best advice I can give someone is to spend time every week in bookstores or the book section at a big retailer, just browsing. Perusing the shelves will help you stay up on what’s selling, what trends are hot, what just works in a book. Then the tricky thing is to find your own take on that—figure out what makes these books successful, what makes them unique, and then find your own thing. You can steal insight and knowledge about the market from stores, just don’t steal ideas…but you’ll be way ahead of the game if you’re able to recognize what kinds of books get published before you start submitting your manuscript to agents or editors.
Does it bother you when editors tinker with your work?
I have actually been asked this question, which is why I’ve included it here. I, perhaps more than any other writer in the history of writing, LOVE EDITORS. Seriously, love them. Perhaps it’s because I was one, but I admire, respect, and desperately need the editorial process. If you want to be a published writer, you need to be prepared for someone criticizing your work, picking at your work, and—I promise—fixing your work to make it so much better than it could have been without an editorial partner. Tinker away, editors. I love you.
Will you read my book?
While I love to read and wish I could help everyone, I am afraid I must say no. I need to use my limited work time to write books!
Who designed this fabulous website?
A very cool designer, Manning Leonard Krull, drew this amazing original illustration for me, then designed my site around it. We came up with this idea because I’m totally obsessed with Paris and love outdoor cafes—thus, a Parisian café scene was born! There is nothing I’d rather do in life than be a professional “café patron.” Would anyone like to pay me to sit in cafés, chatting with friends, drinking coffee all day?
Where can I buy your books?
My books are available at most chain bookstores and some local independent bookstores. If you don't see them, just ask. Any bookstore should be able to order them at no extra charge. You can also find them online at Indiebound.org, Amazon.com, BN.com, Borders.com, Chapters.Indigo.ca…you get the idea.
Where can I get a signed book?
If you want a signed book, my friends at Red Balloon in St. Paul, MN, can probably hook you up. Give them a call and order one—if they don’t have a signed copy in stock, tell them I sent you and I’ll drive right over and sign one that they can send out for you!
Do you eat meat?
Yes. I tried out vegetarianism for exactly one year. One night, I dreamt of French Dip and Potato Skins with Bacon (two things I truly dislike, but they presented themselves as the poster children of meat in my dream), and the next day I went out and got both of those things. I’ve eaten neither a French Dip nor Potato Skins since.
Note: This question is not particularly frequently asked, but I think it’s important.
Have you ever crashed a prom, like Emily and Max in Prom Crashers?
No, but I was seriously obsessed with formal dances during high school. I went to “Sweetheart”, which is a prom-lite sort of thing all four years of high school and went to prom both junior and senior year (the only years I was allowed to buy a ticket). I love dressing up, and I love dances. They’re totally cheesy, but I can’t get enough of them. I’d give anything to go to prom again.
Have you ever gone on a road trip, like Emily and her friends in Drive Me Crazy?
I took two amazing summer road trips. One—to Sandusky, Ohio for roller-coastering—was after my senior year of high school with two friends and the guy who was my then-boyfriend. The second was the very next summer—to go cave climbing in Kentucky—with two other friends and the same guy, but now ex-boyfriend, which was interesting.
Which of your characters is most like you?
There’s a little bit of me in every character. In Kiss It, I love Chaz’s honesty (and tend to be a little too honest sometimes myself) and can relate to Sadie’s romantic side. In Dancing Queen, Olivia’s love of travel and fascination with celebrity is totally me. In Prom Crashers, Emily’s lust for prom is definitely mine—also, lots of prom elements from the book came from my own experiences. In Juicy Gossip, Jenna’s experience working at a mall store reflected my own. The character most like me, though, is probably Kate in Drive Me Crazy. I like her feistiness and endless belief in romance.
Can I be in the movie version of INSERT BOOK HERE?
At this time, none of my books are being made into movies (though there are some writers working on a script for Prom Crashers, which excites me to no end). If anything changes, you will know. Oh…hi, Hollywood!
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