This week I welcome to the blog Young Adult Fantasy author
I first met Wanda when she walked into a Creative Writing class I was teaching a few years ago. She was writing her first novel at that stage, having had an epiphany that she was meant to be a writer … but I won’t say any more, I’ll let her tell that story.
That novel she was writing was Betrothed which was published last week by Pantera Press.
Even if you’re not a YA or Fantasy reader this book will have you hooked from page one!
he first in an enchanting faery series by Wanda Wiltshire
Amy Smith has always known she was different. Severe allergies, fragile health and taunts at school have made life an endurance test for the adopted seventeen year old.
When Amy starts having strange dreams, everything changes. Night after night, she becomes trapped in a shroud of black – a void of silence but for a male voice calling for a girl named ‘Marla’.
One night, the darkness clears, Leif is revealed and Amy discovers that she is the girl he has been searching for.
Immediately the two are swept up in a passionate yet forbidden love. Leif isn’t like the other boys Amy knows. Breathtakingly gorgeous, he speaks with her telepathically … not to mention, he can fly …
Desperate to find a way to be with her, Leif tells Amy of the terrifying threat to his Fae homeland, the danger to the people, and of an unforgivable betrayal to his King. He urges her to seek her true identity…. But Amy is confused… isn’t it all just a dream?
Thanks for visiting Flying Pony Wanda, and congrats on Betrothed!
1. What activities (other than writing) get your creative juices flowing?
Reading for starters – there’s nothing like a good book to get me excited about my own writing. Getting into nature is great too, particularly when there’s no one else around. I can imagine all kinds of amazing things when I’m surrounded by rainforest or strolling along a quiet stretch of beach.
2. What sort of writing routine do you have – disciplined or undisciplined, regular or erratic, focused or easily distracted?
A bit of everything really. When I’m feeling highly creative, it’s nothing for me to start at 5 or 6am and be at the computer til midnight. At these times I have this wondrous ability to ignore all else around me – family, mess, the eight year old attempting to cook his own dinner! But when it comes to editing I’m not nearly so driven and find myself easily distracted – usually by twitter or Facebook!
3. Do you ever suffer from writer’s block and if so what do you do about it?
I don’t know whether it could be classed as writers block, but I have had scenarios where I need to get from point A to point C but I have no idea what point B is. When that happens I usually pick up a novel or pray or both. The problem always sorts itself out soon enough.
4. Which aspects of the writing life do you most love?
That initial purge of story to page is magical, especially when the words seem to flow so effortlessly from your mind that your fingers can barely keep up! I just love that. I rarely get enough sleep at those times. I also love getting together with other writers, visiting writer’s festivals, listening to other authors – all those things are gold. I get such a thrill from them.
5. Which aspects do you least love (or detest!)?
There is nothing I dislike about writing, but there are aspects that are more challenging than others. Editing those awful and thankfully rare paragraphs that no amount of tampering seem able to fix is top of the list. That’s where having wonderful writer friends comes in handy – usually I’ve only to hand the problem over for it to be soon resolved.
6. What books and writers have most influenced your own writing?
I think a writer takes something from every book he or she reads – the good and the bad. It’s almost as though each book possesses a specific lesson – what to do, what not to do. In very different ways a few of the authors I have learnt from are Jane Austen, Anne Rice, Melina Marchetta and Stephanie Meyer.
7. Can you describe for us your writing process, from getting the original idea to completed manuscript?
The idea for my first book Betrothed was the answer to a prayer – literally. When it came to me, I simply parked myself in front of the computer and started writing. At the end of each scene I would ask myself this question: What happens next? Occasionally I would come up against one of those pesky, ‘point A don’t know how to get to point C scenarios’, in which case prayer never failed to reveal point B. After I wrote ‘the end’ on my first book, I filed it away and started work on my second. When I wrote ‘the end’ on that, I took Betrothed out and gave it a good edit before handing it to a couple of friends to read and make suggestions. After taking into account their suggestions, I did still more editing before giving it to my fabulous writing teacher to read and edit. From there it was just a matter of further edits to whip Betrothed into the shape it’s in today!
8. Describe your path to publication.
Around three years after I started writing, I began to think that I should attempt to get Betrothed published. I sent some feelers out in the form of some very substandard letters to a couple of very inappropriate agents. I expected nothing and I received nothing. Soon after that I was in the backyard, hanging out the washing and talking to God all at the same time. “God,” I said. “I just don’t know where to go or what to do with Betrothed. You know I’m hopeless at approaching people – you know I have no confidence. If I can’t even get started, then how am I ever going to get my book published? I need a sign. Give me a sign that it’s all going to work out.”
At that precise moment and for absolutely no reason, I looked down. The ground was covered in dew and great patches of slug eaten clover. Amongst all that mess was a perfect four leaf clover staring right at me. “It’s a sign,” I cried. I took the clover to my writing class that night and told them the story. “It’s a sign.” they all cried – “something amazing is going to happen.” “I know,” I said, and it did. The next morning my husband came home from work and told me that he’d bumped into a colleague he didn’t often see called Baz Radburn. Baz told Kevin he’d recently had a book published and he was having a launch at Dymocks in George Street in two week’s time. Baz invited us along and after hearing I was a writer, said he’d be happy to introduce me to his publisher, Alison Green from Pantera press. A few months later I was offered a contract.
9. What advice would you give to writers who are working towards publication?
Most important – don’t send your manuscript out too early. You only get one crack at each agent/publisher. Make sure your writing is as tight as you can possibly make it. Give it to a few trusted writer friends to read and comment on. If you don’t have writer friends, join a group and get some – they are invaluable and a lot of fun too! Consider every bit of feedback given you. Even if you don’t agree, the fact that something has been picked up is reason enough to take a closer look – especially if the same thing has been picked up by more than one person. After all that, pay a professional to edit your manuscript. Finally, send it off with a kiss and a prayer! Worked for me!
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