Say hello to Steph Bowe! She's the 17-year-old author of the YA novel Girl Saves Boy, which was published in New Zealand and Australia by Text Publishing in September 2010. You can check out her blog (Hey! Teenager of the Year) for more info.
Steph was kind enough to answer some questions for me. So instead of going on my usual rant about my publishing fails, I bring you the story of a teenager who has actually been published. I know you will all be as impressed and inspired by her achievements as I am! :)
Brigid: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
Steph: I've always loved writing, since I was really little, and I've wanted to be a published author since I was about seven. I think it was less about accolades or money or anything like that, and more about a love of stories and wanting to share them with other people.
Brigid: What authors inspire you most?
Steph: There are so many! Melina Marchetta and John Green are probably the main two - I am amazingly envious of their brilliant writing and success.
Brigid: Do you have a specific writing process? Or do you "wing it" and see what happens?
I make it up as I go along. Generally I have a clear idea of my characters, a few major conflicts and the beginning and end in my head before I start writing, but they might change as I write. I love that writing is such an organic thing and you can incorporate everything and go off on tangents - this is your own world to freely play around with, why limit yourself?
Brigid: I know writers sometimes have trouble remembering how they got ideas ... Do you remember what first inspired you to write Girl Saves Boy?
Steph: I don't think I ever have specific inspirations - I always have thousands of tiny ideas inspired by things I see and read and hear and experience all swimming around in my head and sometimes growing into plots and stories.
Brigid: When did you start trying to get Girl Saves Boy published? How long did it take before you got a "yes" from an agent?
Steph: I started sending queries in August of '09. I had a few different offers of representation, and signed with an agent in September. I was insanely lucky.
Brigid: Has getting published changed your perspective of writing at all?
Steph: It's made it a lot harder. Instead of just writing for my own enjoyment, I'm always thinking about whether my agent/editor/readers will like it, whether it will sell, is it as good as the last book... there's lots of new and different things to take into consideration, and it's a lot easier to put off writing in the fear that you won't write something that's good enough.
Brigid: What are your other interests besides writing? And do those interests influence what you write?
Steph: Writing and schoolwork take up so much of my time right now, I hardly have any time for anything else. I do read a lot, and I enjoy photography, acting, dancing, cooking and spending time with my friends and family. I think everything a person experiences influences them, so obviously if that person is a writer that will show through in what they write. I don't think I can specifically point out anything I do in my real life that's affected what I write, but I may be able to do that in a few years time (I certainly know that I keep accidentally adding foods I eat to books as foods my characters eat...).
Brigid: What writing projects are you working on right now?
Steph: I am in the midst of revising my second book... and sneakily writing bits and pieces of books three and four (all standalone novels)... I don't want to jinx them, so I'm being deliberately vague... How mysterious!
Brigid: What is the most challenging part of writing for you?
Major edits! What a nightmare. Trying to figure out how to fix a book you've already spent so much time working on is pretty difficult.
Brigid: What advice do you have for other teens who are trying to get published?
Steph: Just go for it, don't let your self-doubt or anyone else's negative words get you down. Write first and foremost because you love writing and stories. Get as much feedback from others as possible, and learn to improve your writing. Send your work out there. If you aren't published as a teenager, that doesn't matter - you're still a success. Everything you write and submit and everything you experience is contributing to the writer you will become. I have faith in you! Just remember to do lots and lots of writing. That's the main thing.
Thank you, Steph! :)