Last night I had the opportunity to meet the award-winning young adult author Elizabeth C. Bunce. She is the creator of the incredible A Curse Dark as Gold for which she won the very prestigious William C. Morris Young Adult Debut Award (among other honors).
She is also a fellow Kansan, and last night spoke at a local library. The setting was more like an intimate discussion among literary colleagues rather than a forum, which I preferred because I got to get into Elizabeth's brain. And afterwards I stayed and spoke to her and her husband. We even walked out to the parking lot together. (Remember shaking slightly from nerves when talking to the boy you loved? Yes, I was shaking.)
First of all...A Curse Dark as Gold. Beautiful. Romantic. Mystical. It is a historical fantasy, a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin - a very thorough, emotional, and believable retelling of the fairy-tale. And Elizabeth is such an incredible writer. When you read her words, you don't see words, you see pictures. You feel. It's amazing. My words are a little sad they aren't as good as her words.
She spoke about her journey to publication, which is unique. She didn't acquire an agent by traditional querying, but through a conference. And she actually obtained her editor (he-hem, an editor for Harry Potter!) all by herself at another conference, who only read a few chapters and then asked her for her whole manuscript...which Elizabeth had not even finished yet. So the editor contacted her several months later asking her for the manuscript again. Her writing is THAT good. So agent and editor eventually teamed up to help Elizabeth create perfect.
She spent three years writing her book! She spent time doing a lot of research and now is an expert on woolen mills in the Industrial Revolution. (And do you know what?! She recommends books for research over the Internet. I thought the Internet had no limits...)
She said she had fourteen starts on her book. In fact, she said that false starts teach you what you need to know to finish your book. (And I just felt like I was moving backwards.)
I have been writing my book for a couple of months and I'm on my second start. Suddenly I don't feel so far behind.
We spoke about the editing process, and she warned against self over-editing. She said it comes to a point you are not making your manuscript better, you are just making it different.
What else?? Oh yes, she asked me what my book was about. And I told her. And she liked it. (Still shaking.)
It was a great experience. I recommend taking advantage of the opportunity to meet a published author if the opportunity presents itself. And maybe seeking the opportunity if it doesn't present itself.