Thursday, February 19, 2009

Taking Slacking to a Whole New Level: Interview with Trish Doller

Trish Doller (rhymes with roller) is all about the slacking; she says slacking is her favorite pastime and, of course, her favorite band is The Slackers. But I need to know what brand of slacking allows a person to have seven manuscripts in the works at one time! Yes, people, in addition to having sold a book, Trish has seven projects in various stages of completion! I wanna slack like that.

Tish’s debut book is called My Way or the Highway and it will be published by Delacorte Press/Random House in Summer 2010. Here's the synopsis:

After getting caught cheating on her U.S. History final, seventeen-year-old Jacey Lowell will not be spending three weeks in Europe with her friends. Instead, she's been sentenced to two weeks aboard the eXtreme Teen Tour charter bus, which offers "an unforgettable adventure at some of our nation's greatest historical landmarks". (Or so the brochure says.)

Jacey has no interest in bonding with her eXtreme Teen tour mates and even less interest (yes, it's possible) in seeing historical sites. But when the tour (and her luggage) leaves her behind in New York City, Jacey's boring bus ride turns into a cross-country adventure that takes her places she's never been before.

Trish, can you please tell us how you met your agent?
When I started the query process, I read somewhere that a good place to look for prospective agents is in the acknowledgments of your favorite books. My favorite YA author is Maureen Johnson, so I tracked down the true identity of superagent Daphne Unfeasible (a.k.a. Kate Schafer-Testerman) and sent off a query letter. Although three other agents had the full and one offered representation, I held out for Kate. It was totally worth it because she's awesome!

Did your agent go straight for Delacorte or did your manuscript go out to other houses?
Delacorte was one of four publishers in our first round of submissions. The other three houses ultimately passed, but it only takes one offer, right?!

I read that you started My Way Or The Highway as a NaNoWriMo project. How long did it take you to write from start to finish?
Ooh, this is my favorite "writerly" story! I started My Way or the Highway on November 1, 2006 and about a week into NaNo it was pretty clear I wouldn't be finished by the end of the month. But, I knew this was a story that I WOULD finish.

Fast forward to July 2007. My father-in-law was getting remarried and I was supposed to be getting packed for my flight to Ohio. Except I was about THISCLOSE to finishing the book. So I was packing and brainstorming and printing off a hard copy--as my friend Katy was looking at her watch going, "Trish, if we don't leave soon, you're going to miss your flight." When I got to the airport, I realized I hadn't packed a notebook. (I know!) So I bought a little tablet and wrote the last lines right there in the waiting area.

I took the next couple of months to polish, but my "official" time was about eight months from the first word to the last.

Do you have a firm publication date yet? Where are you in the process of writing/revising?
I am still revising, so I don't have a publication date yet. We're tentatively slated for Summer 2010, but I just got a new editor so that might change after she has a look at what I've been doing. Or not doing, as the case may be.

If you could have any superhero power, what would it be?
I'd have the ability to be two places at once. The "real" me would spend my time writing, goofing off, hanging with the kids, traveling—basically all the fun stuff—while the "clone" me would do the chores and go to work. It's not as exciting as being able to fly or being invisible, but if you had any idea the intensity of my dislike for work and the enormity of my ability to slack...well, it's the perfect power for me.

Do you have any other manuscripts in the works?
I have seven other projects going right now in various stages of incomplete, but Kate and I recently agreed a couple of contemporary YA ideas are the best follow-ups to My Way or the Highway. So my next will probably be a book called Breaking Rule #2.

What are your words of wisdom or nuggets of advice for aspiring writers?
I suspect if I say "read a lot" and "write a lot" I probably will be repeating what other writers have said. And they're not wrong. Everything you read and write adds to your experience and knowledge as a writer.

So my advice is this: Invest in a good dictionary and a style book like Strunk & White. No matter how good your story idea, it's not going to catch anyone's attention if your spelling and grammar aren't as strong as can be. Does it need to be perfect? No. But it's sort of like showing up to NFL tryouts when you've only played pick-up games with your friends behind school. If you want to be taken seriously, you need to bring your A-game.

Excellent advice, Trish! Thanks so much for the interview.

Trish is superwired: she has a blog and a very cool website (check out the forum section for great stuff, including some very good contemporary YA book reviews), plus you can follow her on Myspace, Facebook, and Twitter. (If you become friends on Facebook you get the added bonus of seeing her amazing tattoo.)

Slack on, Trish! It’s definitely working for you.


Anna Claire said...

Fabulous interview as always--thanks!

Anonymous said...

Trish has the coolest titles! I LOVE the sound of Breaking Rule #2.

PJ Hoover said...

Ooh, I want to see the tattoo! I was just chatting tattoos this morning.
Great interview!

Alyson Noel said...

Great interview! Trish is sooo cool!

Alyson Noel said...

Great interview! Trish is sooo cool!

Anonymous said...

Thank you again for an informative interview. Another exceedingly interesting woman.

Anonymous said...

Seven? She has SEVEN project in the works? *Throws hands up* I give up.

I love a good road trip book - can't wait for this one!


Suzanne Young said...

Trish is an unbelievable talent! I'm so happy that her book will be out there for teens to read! It's FAN TAS TIC!!!!


Suzanne Casamento said...

I'm a huge Trish fan! Thanks for the interview! : )