Thursday, April 23, 2009

Writer in Bloom: Interview with Author Amy Brecount White

I’m incredibly excited about fellow 2010 author Amy Brecount White’s book, FORGET-HER-NOTS because I love love love flowers. The idea of using a flower's secret power to change behavior is fascinating to me—cannot wait to read this one!

Here’s Amy’s deal report from Publishers Marketplace:

Virginia Duncan of Greenwillow Books has acquired FLOWERSPEAK by Amy Brecount White, in a pre-emptive offer. In the novel, a girl discovers that she can use flowers and their magical potency to make people change their behavior – even fall in love. The novel is tentatively scheduled for a spring 2009 release. Steven Chudney of the Chudney Agency did the deal.
[We didn’t make the spring 2009 release, and Greenwillow really wanted a spring release. The title was also changed to the more fun and catchy FORGET-HER-NOTS.]

Hi Amy, can you tell us how you met your agent?
I had heard good things about Steven Chudney from several people and checked out his website. Our taste in books seemed very similar. At that point, his website asked for the first three chapters. He loved them so much he said he was tempted to offer representation just based on those! He did read the whole novel, though, before I signed.

Can you tell us how your book deal happened?
Over the years, I had lots of agents and editors express interest in my novel mostly at SCBWI conferences, because I have such a great premise, imho. It took a few years, though, for me to get the story exactly right and to find the perfect house—Greenwillow. Once we did, Virginia Duncan made an offer within two weeks and right before Christmas. It was the best present ever!

What was the inspiration for FORGET-HER-NOTS and how long did it take you to write?
I used to write a lot of articles for newspapers and magazine—mostly lifestyle and travel pieces—so I was always on the lookout for new ideas. I found out about the language of flowers from a book called, TUSSIE-MUSSIES, which is the Victorian name for symbolic flower bouquets. Once I knew about it, I started seeing the language everywhere. I also gave several friends symbolic bouquets, and I definitely wished that the messages I was sending to them came true. So it was an easy jump from wishing to imagining real magic in the blooms. And I do believe there is a special magic any time anyone gives flowers.

How long did it take you to write it?
Hmm, how long was it? From conception to an offer, about 8 years. I was working on lots of other projects, too, and taking care of my three kids. (I like to say it had the longest gestation period of all my children.) But, I must admit, my learning curve on the craft of novel writing was a little steeper than I expected. It’s a lot different from writing an article, but I think–I’m hopin’—I’ve got it now.

What's your publication date and where in the process are you now?
Right now they’re saying February 2010, and I’m on copy edits.

If you could have any magical power, what would it be?
Flower magic, of course! I’d love to be able to awaken emotions and transform lives with a few lovely blooms. Actually, there are several scientific/psychological studies showing how receiving flowers elevates your mood and feelings of happiness for several days. And patients who have flowers in their room generally have shorter stays and respond better to medications, according to another study.

Soooo… what are you waiting for? Go give someone some flowers!

What are you working on now?
I’m writing a YA novel tentatively called, STRING THEORY. It’s about relationships, growing up fast, and taking care of the earth. I’ve described it as HOOT meets STORY OF A GIRL. No magic, but a few flowers sprinkled in.

Do you have any words of wisdom for writers trying to get published?
Read everything you admire in your genre and then read it again. I was a very good prose writer, but it took me awhile to get a novel right. Even if you can string words together, it’s a real craft and skill to be able to tell a story well, so people want to keep reading. I still go back and read some of my favorite novels – GRACELING, WICKED LOVELY, and THE WITCH OF BLACKBIRD POND – to see exactly how they’re sewn together. It takes also practice and dedication to learn to read like a writer.

Where can we find out more about you and your book?
If you want to learn more about me, FORGET-HER-NOTS and the language of flowers, or read my blog, check out my website.

(There’s a really cool list of flowers and their meanings on Amy’s website – just found out that my favorite flower means fantastic extravagance! Love it.)

Thanks for the interview, Amy! What flowers should we send for congratulations?


Jennie Englund said...

It sounds so unique--the power of flowers.

Can't wait to check it out!

Anonymous said...

I LOVE flowers, too, and young adults need to develop a better appreciation for all things nature. Can't wait to read the book AND to check her website and see what my favorite flower symbolizes. Another great interview with another tantalizing book to anticipate. thanks.

Hardygirl said...

Love the sound of this one!

And, eight years. Wow.


Little Ms J said...

I love this concept and am intrigued to learn more about symbolic bouquets! Congrats. I think I'm going to surprise myself with some flowers tomorrow.

Great interview as always!

Katie said...

I literally can not WAIT to read this!!!

Rachel Hawkins said...

I can't WAIT to read this book! Great interview, ladies!(Also, Tussie Mussies is my new favorite phrase ever. I plan on working it into every conversation. ;-) )

Wyman Stewart said...

String Theorists everywhere will love the working title of your next book! I too have read about the power of flowers and their sensory affect on humans. Is this called Aromatics? Can't remember. Hope the book gets great reviews; sounds great. Wish the title expressed more of the sensory aspect though. Oh well, what do I know about marketing; not much.

Hope the next book comes a few years faster. Sounds like you have pretty interesting ideas.

Shelli said...

Thanks Christy!

Heidi R. Kling said...

Can't wait to read it!
I love flowers too, and great interview, C!

jberk said...

Tussie Mussies, what a great interview! Thanks for helping us getting to know another Tenner, Christy, and thanks for being awesome, Amy! You seriously are going to get so many flowers when your book comes out. Genius! (This is why my next book will be about the power of gin.) Seriously the book and its author sound just great!

Amy Brecount White said...

Thanks, Christy! And thanks to everybody who commented. This is all VERY exciting!


Pam Calvert said...

Great interview! Now, I'm going to send flowers to my mothers for Mother's Day!

I can't WAIT for this book to come out!!!

Anonymous said...

This is one to watch for.