Today I'm interviewing our very own Stefanie Gaither! Stef and I met way back on a critique-partner-dating-site type thing, and she's proven to be a fabulous person, friend, and writer every day since. Which is why I think we all need to know more about her. Without further ado, here's Stefanie!
So tell us about your publication process!
The short version: I wrote a book. It was terrible. Agents rejected it. I wrote another book. Same thing happened. I wrote another book. Agents started saying really nice things to me, but ultimately still said no. So I wrote lucky book number four. And then lots of agents started saying really nice things to me, and some of them even used the words “I’d like to offer you representation.” One of the users of those words was Sara Megibow of Nelson Literary. There was acceptance, and much rejoicing, and some revising, and then off on submission we went, and then one day a magical email with the magical word OFFER floated into my inbox, and then I drank lots of celebratory margaritas. The end.
The shorter version: A crap ton of hard work, an unhealthy level of stubbornness, and the developing of a skin so thick that you could bounce knives off of it.
The concept behind FALLS THE SHADOW is so cool. What inspired it?
Several different things at different times. I’ve always been a science nerd, and bioethics have always been especially interesting to me because there is so much room for so many different interpretations of right and wrong. A lot of grey area to explore, in other words. I’ve always loved stories that sort of blur the line between good and evil, because they feel the most human to me—since no one is completely good or completely evil. So, that’s why it seemed natural for me to write a story where cloning (a bioethical hot topic for sure) is the catalyst.
The book is as much about family as it is about cloning, though, and is actually told from the POV of the clone’s sister. My original intent was to tell it from the clone’s POV, but as I brainstormed I found myself more and more interested in exploring a character who had to deal with the fallout of her parent’s decision to clone her and her sibling, and who was presented with this familiar yet foreign girl/creation and told “this is your sister now”. And I suppose that part (unconsciously, really) was probably inspired by my own experience growing up in a combined home with step-relatives. They weren’t clones, though. Or at least, I don’t think they were….
What was the easiest and hardest part about writing this story?
The easiest part was Cate, the heroine, and her voice and everything, because she’s more like me than any other character I’ve ever written (I hope I don’t regret admitting that to the internet, haha). The hardest part was probably finding the right balance of science and accessibility—that is, I wanted to include lots of awesomely nerdy science fictiony things, but I also wanted to keep it compulsively readable/well-paced. I like my books equal parts entertaining and thought-provoking, but it’s tough to balance those two sometimes.
What is your writing process like?
I get a flash of an idea, and I let it sit in my brain for a bit, usually. And then I try to see if I can put it into pitch form, and then query form. Yes, I still write something resembling a query for all my books, even though I’m technically past the dreaded querying stage. I actually like writing them, to an extent, because I’m weird. And because trying to imagine the jacket-copy for a potential manuscript is both inspiring and a good way to test out your plot. If I can write a killer pitch about it, I can probably turn it into a killer manuscript, too.
After I’ve got the bare-bones query version of the plot, I usually write the first fifty pages or so with reckless abandonment. Then I stop, reassess, and do more in-depth plotting. I used to be strictly a pantser, but after taking a screen-writing class in college and studying three-act structure and stuff a little closer, I switched to the plotter camp, and I don’t think I’ll be going back any time soon. I’m much more productive, even on “bad writing days”, when I have a plot/plan in place.
Can you tell us something about what you're working on now?
I’d tell you all about it, but then I’d have to kill you.
I actually have lots of projects on the backburner, but the one that’s front and center right now is a YA epic fantasy inspired by the myth of the lost continent of Atlantis. It has dragons. And kelpies. And a sarcastic bounty hunter with pretty eyes. And I'm really excited about it.
What do you order when you go to a coffee shop? (This is more for me. I'm looking for new drinks.)
White chocolate raspberry mocha, or a vanilla caramel spice latte. Mmmmm…
Thank you so much for answering all my questions, girly. We should probably do this again. Soon.
Stefanie Gaither writes YA novels about killer clones and spaceships, with the occasional romp with dragons and magic-users thrown in for good measure. Said writing is generally fueled by an obscene amount of coffee and chocolate, as well as the occasional tennis and/or soccer break. She's represented by Sara Megibow of Nelson Literary, and her debut novel, FALLS THE SHADOW, is forthcoming from Simon and Schuster Books For Young Readers in 2014. You can add it on Goodreads here!
You can find her on Twitter @: https://twitter.com/stefaniegaither
Or drop her an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
And also visit her website @: www.stefaniegaither.com