Today's author: STEPH BOWE
Here is Steph's ORIGINAL ENTRY.
And here is my INTERVIEW WITH STEPH after her Secret Agent success.
QUESTIONS FOR STEPH:
1. What role did your participation in a Miss Snark's First Victim contest or critique round play in your ultimate success as an author?
It led to me signing with my agent, Ginger Clark! I had the option to send her a partial of my manuscript after the contest, and then she requested a full, and then she offered to represent me, which was thrilling and surreal and amazing. A couple of months later the Australian/New Zealand rights to my novel (which became GIRL SAVES BOY) went to auction, and I signed a two-book deal with Text Publishing. I was very, very lucky.
2. Tell us what your journey has looked like from your MSFV Success Story until now.
My debut novel, GIRL SAVES BOY, was published by Text Publishing less than a year after I signed with Ginger, in August 2010. I was sixteen, and I spoke at writers' festivals, and it was terrifying and awesome. (I have now been going to festivals, visiting schools and running writing workshops for over seven years, and am thankfully never as anxious as I was that first time!) GIRL SAVES BOY was also translated into Dutch, Spanish and Catalan. My second novel, ALL THIS COULD END, was published in 2013 and was long listed for a couple of awards. My latest novel, NIGHT SWIMMING, was published in April 2017. During this time, I also graduated high school and got a university degree in psychology! I haven't actually had a 'real' job yet, but I figure being a writer will do. Right now? I'm trying to write a novel for NaNoWriMo, and I'm procrastinating by answering these questions!
3. What has been the best part of your experience as an author? What has been most difficult/challenging?
There have been so many wonderful things! Being part of a community of not just authors but also readers, librarians, teachers and supporters of children's literature. Hearing from people who have read and enjoyed my novels in Australia and Spain and Holland and a bunch of other places. Getting to talk at writers' festivals and meet my idols and get paid to do something I love. I really cannot imagine my life if I were not an author. I have no idea what I'd be doing otherwise, and I'd have missed out on so many amazing things.
I also now do school visits and run writing workshops, which is not something I had envisioned for myself when I dreamed of being a writer - I had imagined myself locked away from society, writing in a darkened room. Which I still do a bit of! But I love teaching creative writing and meeting the young people I write for, and I feel very enriched by that. So my life is awesome in unexpected ways.
The most difficult and challenging thing is experiencing self-doubt: I had imagined, as a young writer, that I would feel different when I was published, as if I would turn into a Glamorous Confident Author overnight... which is not how publishing a book works. I was still me, and suddenly I was experiencing people criticising my work and I still felt very unsure of myself. So I was plagued with a lot of self-doubt, which made writing my second book very difficult. I still have trouble with self-doubt now, but I'm better at responding to my brain being unhelpful and telling myself to write anyway!
4. What's your latest offering, and where can we find it?
My latest novel is NIGHT SWIMMING, a contemporary YA coming-of-age novel. Here's what it's about:
Imagine being the only two seventeen-year-olds in a small town. That’s life for Kirby Arrow—named after the most dissenting judge in Australia’s history—and her best friend Clancy Lee, would-be musical star.
Clancy wants nothing more than to leave town and head for the big smoke, but Kirby is worried: her family has a history of leaving. She hasn’t heard from her father since he left when she was a baby. Shouldn’t she stay to help her mother with the goat’s-milk soap-making business, look after her grandfather who suffers from dementia, be an apprentice carpenter to old Mr Pool? And how could she leave her pet goat, Stanley, her dog Maude, and her cat Marianne?
But two things happen that change everything for Kirby. She finds an article in the newspaper about her father, and Iris arrives in town. Iris is beautiful, wears crazy clothes, plays the mandolin, and seems perfect, really, thinks Kirby. Clancy has his heart set on winning over Iris. Trouble is Kirby is also falling in love with Iris…
It's available in bookshops in Australia and New Zealand, and online for everyone else!
To purchase Night Swimming (for international people, Book Depository is best as there's free shipping!):
5. Please leave us with some words of wisdom for all aspiring authors.
Always focus on the writing first - that's always the most enjoyable part of the process, and trying to write with the market in mind makes writing stories that are true to you virtually impossible. Write what you are passionate about and excited about and would love to read, and readers will respond to that.
Remember that everyone is on a different journey, and no matter when you publish or what stage of your career you are at, you have value as a writer and your stories have value. The world needs your stories. So much of publishing involves luck and timing, and writers who are more successful than you are often just people who have had better luck - your time will come.
Writing professionally is a weird career - it's wonderful, but it can also be very demoralising at times. You never really feel as if you have 'made it' - the goal posts always keep moving, and it's very difficult to make a good living. Even once you've published novels, you still get rejections and disappointments and self-doubt. Being able to manage those difficult times, and keep writing anyway, is a skill that will serve you throughout your writing career. Good luck.