So Kristin (refer to lovely picture above) and I are counting down the days till the release of MARKED, the first book in our wonderful young adult vampyre series. I'm going to be running some contests and opening the blog for questions about writing with a partner, writing YA, and...well...writing in general. Kristin is also available to answer questions (in all her copious free time between working full time and going to college full time and writing with me...). I thought I'd start things off by posting an article Kristin just wrote for the teen magazine, TeenInk, where she talked about the experience of being published at nineteen. Feel free to blog in with questions for Kristin (better known around my house a Chicken Frances because her initials are KFC - she loves it when I pass along cute little family facts like that!).
PUBLISHED AT NINETEEN!
(DREAM COME TRUE OR NIGHTMARE IN THE MAKING?)
by Kristin Cast, coauthor of MARKED: A HOUSE OF NIGHT NOVEL
The countdown to May 1st, the release date of my first novel, MARKED: A HOUSE OF NIGHT NOVEL has begun. It’s a frenzy of interviews, book signing dates, getting reviews (which I read like I watch horror movies – through my fingers), and in general an “interesting” time, especially because it’s coinciding with college finals (ugh).
Okay, I’m going to be really honest with you. (You may want to sit down.) The truth is that most of the time I feel like I am letting people down when they ask: “Is being published at nineteen exciting?!” The answer is more complex than a simple “Yep!” Here’s the deal: in my family, being an author is normal. It’s been my life for as long as I can remember. My mom’s been writing forever and published since 2001. Seeing her name, PC Cast (PC stands for Phyllis Christine, but no one under 85 can spell Phyllis correctly, so she uses her initials to save herself stress), on zillions of books is normal – it’s my mom’s job. So seeing my name on the cover of a novel is something I’ve always expected. I think it’s great, and I feel like I’ve finally achieved something I was meant to do. (Sorry. Now I realize I sound like one of those spoiled movie star’s kids. “Like, of course I knew I was going to be rich and famous because, like, my mommy is! Duh, where have you been?!” That’s not what I mean. I mostly mean: like mother – like daughter.). Sure, my mom wasn’t always the famous award winning author she is today, but I have always been exposed to the complex lifestyle of an author, which made it easier for me to help write these books. I knew the hard work that was expected from me, and knew the discipline it would take.
As for coauthoring with my mom, I can’t even begin to count how many times I’ve been sitting quietly, minding my own business watching one of the many Real World marathons, when suddenly, like the voice of God (or maybe it should say Goddess), my mom is yelling down the hall that she needs brainstorming help about where a scene could be headed, followed by a battering of questions, or several spelling confusions that need clarification (here’s a news flash – my mom is an AWFUL speller). Whether or not she ever actually took my advice, I have always assisted my mom while she is writing; now, I just help a lot more.
Coming up with the idea for the series was the easy part. My mom’s agent (who is now my agent, too, which is very exciting and cool to say, “Yes, I have an agent!") gave us the idea. She said three magic words: vampyre finishing school, and Mom automatically started thinking about a YA series set at a school for fledgling vampyres. I helped her brainstorm about the school, which we set at a local college prep school. Funny story about that – the stuck-up prep school wasn’t too keen on us setting a vampyre finishing school there, so in order to research the location Mom and I dressed up in pearls and cashmere and went to their open house where we – oopsie! – got terribly lost and had to wander around all by ourselves (taking tons of pictures on our cell phones). Hee hee!
The actual writing of our YA series is about teamwork. When Mom and I created our heroine, Zoey Redbird, we made sure that she was a lot like me at sixteen. The first three books are told first person from Zoey’s point of view, so honestly (and sometimes embarrassingly) it’s like I’m writing about sending my(vampyre)self on great adventures! We’ve even used the names of a couple of my ex-boyfriends (don’t tell them – it’s not always flattering). Characters based on high school friends (and enemies) are in the books. Oh, so are some of my teachers.
The mechanics of how we do it is pretty non-glamorous. I wish we sat around in satin pjs and ate truffles. What happens is Mom writes a section of the manuscript and then she emails it to me. I go through it and rewrite, focusing on voice and making sure that Mom hasn’t loaded it down with too much description (Boring! But don’t tell her!) Often Mom will leave gaps in the text, especially in Zoey’s internal dialogue, that I fill in, making sure Zoey sounds sixteen and not forty-six. I really get caught up in Zoey’s life and her friends. I know it sounds a little psychotic, but they seem very real to me. So real that in book 2, BETRAYED, something terrible happens (no, I’m not going to tell you) and it literally made me stop writing for three days because I was so upset! But, besides the slightly psycho aspect of it, and the deadlines, it’s fun, really. And, except for the fact that she can beat me at will, I like writing with my mom!
Seriously, this life is normal to me, like breathing, it’s something I enjoy and I understand how to do. Oh, and I’m in the research stages of a book that I’m writing on my own. (More about that later!) So, to me, I’m just another person in my family with a large imagination and a whole lot to say.