Tips for Aspiring Authors from Maile Meloy

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Maile Meloy grew up in Montana.  She’s written award-winning books including novels Liars and Saints, A Family Daughter, and story collections Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It, and Half In Love.  Her essays have appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Slate, Sunset, O, and The New Yorker.

Maile is also a friend, and I previously interviewed her in person about the release of her first young readers book, The Apothecary.  The sequel, The Apprentices, is coming out in June.

This is a guest interview post by my daughter.  I have also read and enjoyed all of Maile’s books, but these questions are hers.

Between your first installment (The Apothecary) and the second (The Apprentices), you changed the point of view from first person to third person.  What made you change from purely Janie’s point of view to one that switches?Maile Meloy Picture 2

The Apothecary is narrated by a character named Janie Scott, and it’s the story of what happened to her when she was 14, in 1952.  I loved writing in Janie’s voice, and I think it really helped me write the novel.  But I’d never written a whole book in first person before, and I found it kind of frustrating after a while.  I could only write about things Janie experienced, so she does a lot of eavesdropping.  I could never cut away to the villains or include anyone else’s point of view.  The other main character is Benjamin Burrows, the apothecary’s son, and I briefly considered writing a second book from his point of view.  But the circumstances at the end of The Apothecary determined the form of The Apprentices: everyone is scattered.  Benjamin has gone off with his father, and Janie doesn’t know where he is.  So I started with Janie in boarding school, in close third person, meaning the narrator says “she” but is basically in her mind.  Then I could shift and have chapters where the narrator is in Benjamin’s mind (in the jungle), and Jin Lo’s mind (in China), and Pip’s, and even the apothecary’s.  It was very freeing.

Will there be a third in the series?  I hope so!

Yes!  I’m working on it now.  It begins not long after The Apprentices ends.

9780399162459Will you do a book trailer for The Apprentices like you did with The Apothecary?

That’s a great question—I had to ask my publishers.  They hired the very talented people at Crush Creative to make the fantastic trailer for The Apothecary, and they’re planning to update it to use for The Apprentices, too.  But there won’t be a separate trailer for The Apprentices, so if anyone wants to make one, please do!

You were a successful author for adults long before writing for young readers.  What made you decide to write for young adults?

Turning Pain Into Strength

My friend Robert Goolrick is one of the most remarkable people I’ve met. He’s a first class novelist, writing two New York Times bestselling books: A Reliable Wife and Heading Out to Wonderful. These are stories that will linger with you long after you finish them. He writes the kind of novels you have to tell someone else about. He also wrote the bestselling, non-fiction book The End of the World as We Know It about his unbelievably difficult life.

A Perfect Life?

Look at his life now, and you’d think it was made-for-movie perfect. His books sell millions of copies. He lives a gentleman’s life in Virginia. He travels to exotic destinations. On his wrist, you are bound to see a timepiece to remember.

You may see the external life of dreams, but dig a little more and learn his story.

As an adult….

  • He was fired from his job as an advertising executive.
  • His manuscripts were rejected by publisher after publisher.
  • He was addicted to drugs and drinking.
  • He cut himself.
  • He literally lost a decade of his life in a world you wouldn’t recognize.
  • He was institutionalized.

As a child….

  • He was verbally abused.
  • He lived in squalor (complete with rats!).
  • He was raped. By his father.
  • He was neglected.

Most of us don’t understand that kind of life, that kind of pain. But all of us have obstacles thrown in our path.

Responding to Challenges

Leadership Lessons from Over 50 Thought Leaders

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People + Books = 1 Changed Life

 

Charlie “Tremendous” Jones was one of my great influencers.  He repeatedly said that, “You will be the same person you are today in five years but for two things:  the people you meet and the books you read.” Every year, I am privileged to have the opportunity to read so many incredible books and meet fascinating people from all walks of life.

Last year, I launched this blog with the idea of sharing insights, ideas, and inspiration from many sources. On the one hand, I’m disappointed that I was only able to share a fraction of all of the people who influenced me. On the other, I’m glad that I started doing it because now, as I look back on it, I’m the one who benefited the most. Charlie was right. All of the books I read and all of the people I met did indeed change me.

Here are a few of the people who shared their experience and wisdom. If I can learn a fraction of what they know, I will be better equipped to lead in the coming year.

Before you start the new year, take the time to meet some of these people and take their leadership lessons with you. Instead of “interview in progress” you will find a “great life in progress.”

Leadership, News & Politics

 

Dan Rather (his life in the news)

Condoleezza Rice (former Secretary of State)

Barbara Simons (on the dangers of new ballot machines)

Senator Bill Bradley (on how we can all do better)

 

Business Leadership, Strategy & Execution

 

John Baldoni (purpose, leadership)

Jill Geisler (Make Work Happy)

Tony Hsieh (CEO of Zappos on culture)

Cynthia Montgomery (strategist)

Jim Huling (on the 4 disciplines of execution)

Geoffrey Moore (how to cross the chasm and rethink the future)

Faisal Hoque (BTM CEO on the power of convergence)

Chris Grivas (which creative style are you?)

Shep Hyken (7 strategies of amazing customer service)

The Creative Processes of 4 Best-Selling Thriller Writers

A few months ago at Book Expo America, I had the opportunity to interview four of the premier thriller writers today:

Brad Meltzer (The Inner Circle, The Book of Fate, The Tenth Justice)

Michael Connelly (The Lincoln Lawyer, The Poet, Blood Work)

Michael Koryta (The Prophet, The Ridge, The Cypress House)

Nelson DeMille (The Gold Coast, Plumb Island, The General’s Daughter)

They have each sold millions of books and regularly top the bestseller lists.

We talked about a number of topics including:

Crime Writer Jo Nesbo on Phantom

Jo Nesbo is one of the world’s top crime thriller writers.  His books have sold millions around the world, but his popularity in the US is only now skyrocketing.

With Martin Scorsese directing a film of The Snowman, and more readers discovering his work every day, it’s easy to see the trajectory ahead.  (Readers of this blog may recall that this book cover was recognized as a top book cover for 2011.)

Next week Jo’s newest book will be released, again featuring his main character, Harry Hole.  Phantom will certainly soar to the top of the fiction lists and spur sales of his previous books.

Jo lives in Oslo, but I had the opportunity to meet him when he visited New York.