Hi everybody - I'm here today with a great interview with Jodi Meadows, a 2012 debut author. Her first novel 'Incarnate' is due out January 31st 2012 in the US - but you can nab it on Amazon or The Book Depository if you're a UK or international blogger. It's the first book in a new series that is sure to be huge and I cannot wait!
Without further ado I'll hand over to Jodi.
Hi, Jodi! In case any readers haven’t read the book yet, can you tell me a little bit about Incarnate?
Incarnate is about the only girl who's new in a world where everyone else is perpetually reincarnated, and her quest to discover why she was born, and what happened to the person she replaced.
And if you need more than that, the cover copy is on my website and Goodreads.
Talk me through an average day when you’re working on a novel. Do you have a set number of words you have to write per day or do you set yourself different targets?
I really like working, so when I'm drafting a novel, that's pretty much what I do. It's all I can handle. My goals for getting through the first draft really depend on how I'm feeling that day, and how much I think I can reasonably accomplish. I like to set small, attainable goals. Every time I reach one, I feel awesome! Reaching lots of smaller goals adds up fast.
When I'm revising, if it's a huge rewrite that takes just as much focus and creativity as a first draft, I do the same thing. But once I'm editing and better-fying what's already on the page, I make myself do other things like sleep and bathe. (You're welcome for that.)
In young adult fiction in particular, it’s important that readers bond with the characters - what do you think is the most important thing to get right when you're creating a character?
I think the character has to be real. There has to be something about the character that makes the reader think this person could step out of the pages and be just as real and compelling and complicated as any one of their non-paper friends.
What sort of research did you have to do for Incarnate? How did you go about doing this?
I love using the internet for research. Wikipedia and national park websites totally saved me on knowing what wildlife might exist in my world, and what the climate might look like. (Ten points if you can guess which national park Range is based on.) I also looked up blogs and people's vacation photos to get me into places I couldn't go.
In addition to other big things, like pleading with professional musician friends to give me their thoughts on the music aspects of the story, I looked up lots of little--but important for to make the world look real--things, like where certain plants grow, whether my characters could actually have as much coffee as I'd like to give them, and how high a jump into water a person can take and still survive.
Some writers relate take great inspiration from music while they’re writing. Do you listen to music while you’re writing? If so, what artists/bands do you like to listen to while you write?
Sometimes! Sometimes I need silence to get the right mood. Other times nothing but Vienna Teng will do. (I listened to her "Drought" on repeat for the entire first draft of Incarnate. I think my ferrets could probably sing along.) Instrumental music usually works best for me; unless I know a song really well, I get distracted by words. Ludovico Einaudi is one of my go-to composers. He has music for everything.
Are you a plotter or a pantser? Have you always been this way?
I don't like to think of myself as one or the other. There's a huge spectrum in between! With Incarnate, I did a lot more plotting ahead of time than I had in the past. That worked out well. But I also left myself a lot of room for new ideas and directions in the story, which turned out to be super important. If I had stuck to my synopsis, I wouldn't have the masquerade. (Which you might recognize from the cover.)
Can you tell me a bit about your journey with Incarnate? When did you first come up with the idea and what were the timescales involved between the first draft and the novel being accepted for publication?
I first had the idea for Incarnate in July 2006. It looked hard. I put it away. For three years.
In October 2009, I started thinking about it again, writing some ideas, musing about the worldbuilding and society. I wrote synopses for three books. In November and early December 2009, I wrote the first draft of Incarnate. I took a month to revise, and then I queried agents. Agent Lauren called in the beginning of February and offered. We revised Incarnate a little more, and then submitted to editors. Editor Sarah offered on July 1 -- four years after my initial idea for Incarnate.
Incarnate moved really quickly for me, but it wasn't anything like an overnight success. I started writing full time in 2003, and Incarnate was . . . well into the double digits on the number of novel-length manuscripts I'd written.
How important do you think social media (i.e. Twitter/Facebook/blogging) is in today’s market for a writer?
That depends on the writer. Suzanne Collins and JK Rowling are doing just fine in spite of not having a huge web presence. For others, I think it definitely helps. But whether any author should do it? Only if they want to. It's a huge time commitment, and if you're not enjoying it, there are better ways to spend time. Like reading or writing. (Or having a life. I know people who have lives. . . .)
What would you say is your worst bad habit when it comes to writing?
Like Mary Poppins, I am practically perfect in every way. (I wish.)
Is naming characters important to you? What processes do you go through to come up with names for your characters?
Sometimes my characters come with names. Other times I have a feeling about what it might be, but I have to spend time on behindthename.com to find it.
What did you hope to accomplish by writing Incarnate? Do you think you have accomplished what you set out to do?
When I started writing Incarnate, I was actually at a very low point. I'd been getting the nicest rejections you'd ever seen, with people complimenting my writing, my worlds, my whatever. But they still said no.
With Incarnate, I told myself I didn't care whether it got published. And heck if it was a hard idea I didn't have the guts to write before, because I still didn't care whether it ever got published! So there! I set out to write a story that made me happy, made me think, and most of all, a story that challenged me. (Obviously my "I don't care so there!" attitude lasted about five seconds after I finished revising it, because I immediately set out looking for an agent. I don't think anyone was more surprised than me when offers happened.)
I did accomplish what I set out to do. Incarnate was a huge challenge and took lots of work, but I wrote the story I needed to write, the story I wanted to read, and the story that made me very, very happy. (And not just because the right people all said "yes.")
Do you think your teenage years have influenced you as a writer? If so, how?
Absolutely. I was a busy teenager. I had a part time job, 20 hours of dance practice a week, 15 hours of music practice a week, and something called school I sort of recall. I had a very strong work ethic -- and I still do. I loved getting things done and making things perfect. I also loved reading, fuzzy animals, and chocolate.
Not much has changed since I was a teenager, now that I think about it.
There is a lot of argument within the young adult market as to what is appropriate for teens to read. Where do you stand on this matter? Do you think teens should be protected from reading about taboo subjects or do you think they should have the freedom to choose their own reads?
Like most authors, I think teens are smart creatures. They're pretty good at self-censoring when they come upon something that may be too mature for them.
But I also think that, while a small number of adults shouldn't dictate what all teens read, it would be awesome if parents of teens were more involved in what their kids are reading. Even if they don't have time or desire to read it themselves, they can talk to people who do: librarians, booksellers, and reviews online. There are so many places where a parent can find information on books.
And while I have my soapbox -- let's cheer for teens reading. Period.
What books do you think we should be looking out for in 2012?
Oh a whole slew of books! Some I've read already: Everneath by Brodi Ashton; Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi; The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson; Hourglass 2 by Myra McEntire; A Million Suns by Beth Revis.
And some I have the WANTS for: Defiance by C.J. Redwine; Glitch by Heather Anastasiu; Shine by Jeri Smith-Ready; Spell Bound by Rachel Hawkins; Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood; Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock; Article 5 by Kristin Simmons.
There are SO many books I can't wait to read. If I tried to list them all, we'd be here all night. A good place to start for books I yearn to read: the Apocalypsies pages.
Aside from writing, how do you like to spend your free time?
I like knitting and spinning. I find yarn crafts incredibly relaxing, almost meditative. I usually have a knitting project by my keyboard so I can knit whenever I pause to think about the story. (Five points for every knitted item you find in Incarnate.) I have a spinning wheel in my living room; I like to spin while watching movies and TV shows.
Thank you so much for your time, Jodi. Before you go, could you tell me about any projects you have in the pipeline we can look out for?
I can't tell you anything specific, I'm afraid, but I can give you a hint: for the project I'm currently working on, I researched supernovas.
So there you have it! Massive thanks to Jodi for taking the time to visit Writing From the Tub and for giving me such a great interview. I can't wait to read Incarnate when it comes out - counting down the days until my pre-order arrives!