DISCLAIMER: I published this earlier in the week over on The Writer Diaries blog, but I'm posting an encore presentation for those of you who may not follow us.
Today I’m highlighting an up-and-coming debut author who is as talented as she is funny! Romily Bernard, author of the novel FIND ME, which will be released on September 24, 2013 is definitely someone to read now... or in a week, actually. Here’s the jacket blurb:
These are the words written on Tessa Waye’s diary. The diary that ends up with Wick Tate. But Tessa’s just been found . . . dead.
Wick has the right computer-hacking skills for the job, but little interest in this perverse game of hide-and-seek. Until her sister Lily is the next target.
Then Griff, trailer-park boy next door and fellow hacker, shows up, intent on helping Wick. Is a happy ending possible with the threat of Wick’s deadbeat dad returning, the detective hunting him sniffing around Wick instead, and a killer taunting her at every step?
Foster child. Daughter of a felon. Loner hacker girl. Wick has a bad attitude and sarcasm to spare.
But she’s going to find this killer no matter what.
Because it just got personal.
Now to the interview! Romily, thank you so much for agreeing to talk with me! Where did you get the inspiration for FIND ME?
I had an idea for a scene where a girl hacker was inside her bedroom, watching a dirty cop circle her house. No idea why the cop was circling the house. Or why the girl was a hacker because I am beyond computer-inept. But I decided to sit down and figure out why.
And I, for one, am so glad you did! I love the idea of a female hacker! What, if any, characteristics do you and the protagonist, Wick, have in common? How are you different?
We’re both incredibly stubborn. By the time I wrote FIND ME, I had 246 agent/editor rejections and I was sitting down to write with a “I will do this if it KILLS ME” attitude. When I’m being nice, I say that I’m driven. When I’m being realistic, I acknowledge I’m pig-headed. Wick’s very similar. She runs her own hacking business on the sly, looks out for her sister, and, eventually, avenges a dead classmate.
Right… typical girl stuff. Ha. How long did it take to complete the project starting with the idea and ending when you signed your book deal?
I wrote FIND ME in about nine months then, after I was agented, we spent another four months re-writing it twice before Sarah pitched it at the Bologna Book Fair. It sold to Phoebe Yeh at HarperTeen about two weeks after…so, a little over a year?
I’m sure every writer reading this is green with envy. Speaking of your agent, how did you find her?
I’m rep’d by the amazing Sarah Davies of Greenhouse Literary. I found her online then cross-referenced her information with Publisher Weekly deals and supplemented all of that by researching her current authors. Sound a touch anal-retentive? It probably was, but I wanted a clear game plan of who I would approach once I completed my first YA. I created an Excel spreadsheet so I knew exactly who my top agent picks were and what materials I needed to send them.
I like to think it was an organized plan of attack…I’m sure to outsiders it looked like I was creating a hit list. Sarah was my first pick and, luckily, she wanted me as well. And what happened to that trusty spread? It’s up on my website if anyone wants to download it to create their own agent wish list.
The right agent is a must for a successful career! What surprised you most about the publishing process?
For an industry that trades in dreams, publishing is all about product. That sounds heartless, but it’s not. As a HarperTeen author, I’m lucky to have a team of talented publishing professionals all pulling for FIND ME to be the best it can be. Sometimes that means we have to make hard decisions about what’s right for the book, but also what’s right for the market. Scary? Yes. But you have to trust the people you surround yourself with. I researched publishers the same way I researched agents so, when I accepted Harper-Collins’ offer, I knew what caliber of professional I was getting. The trick? I have to get out of the way and let them do their job.
So, given everything you’ve gone through on your publishing journey, what advice would you give to all the "not yet published" writers out there?
Learn to separate constructive criticism from negative criticism. There are going to be people who are never going to like your writing. Repeat: never. You could do phone book entries and they’re still going to find a way to hate the way you did it. Ignore those people.
On the other hand, there are going to be some really scathing reviews where you’re going to say “You know that’s really harsh…but she/he has a point.” Learn to tell the difference. And, more importantly, learn to internalize those scathing constructive reviews in a way that you can access later without sending yourself into a shame spiral.
Then write another book about how you learned to do that. Sell it to other writers. Make millions. Retire to the south of France.
Sounds like a great plan, although I’m prone to retirement in Ireland, but I get what you’re saying! What's next for you? Any new projects coming up? Is there a sequel to FIND ME in our future?
Yes! FIND ME’s sequel, REMEMBER ME, is due September 2014.
Every writer has those lines that they just love. Care to share yours?
Hmmm. What about my favorite kiss scene?
Sure, let’s read it!
“We should probably get going,” I say.
“Sure thing.” Griff starts to ease closer and I freeze. “But we don’t have rush off. I have my bike. It’ll take less than twenty minutes to get to Joe’s.”
“I…I…” I don’t know what to say. We’re only inches apart now and my brain has stalled. Griff’s body slides lower along mine and I have to stifle a gasp. He still smells like grass and chlorine from last night and his hair has dried in messy spikes.
Griff smiles and, for a second, I think he’s going to kiss me again, but he turns his head so his whispers rush past my ear, making my skin leap like it’s electrified. “I like waking up to you, Wicked.”
I dig my fingers into the covers so I don’t dig them into him. “I thought you were awake because I kept kicking you.”
“Yeah, you were.” Griff’s hand drifts up, up, up my neck until it’s cupping my jaw. “But, mostly, I was up because I wanted to do this.”
His lips press against corner of my jaw…my cheek…my mouth. I roll into him and he pushes me down, pins me to the bed.
“Again,” he breathes.
Wow! Very hot! Well, thanks again for talking with me and good luck as FIND ME hits the book stores on September 24th! Until then, stay PASSIONATE about the writers you love!