I’m busy typing away on VAGABOND PUPPIES (not real title) while I wait for edits on THE ARCHIVED (real title), and planning the next giveaway (it’s hard because it’s the Fourth of July, and I don’t know how many people will be online) but today I have a treat for you!! Nova Ren Suma, author of the beautiful IMAGINARY GIRLS, has stopped by to say hello, have a cup of tea, and answer some questions.
Let’s give her a warm welcome! Settle in with tea, coffee, cookies, or whatever you have on you, and enjoy
1. Give us the essence of IMAGINARY GIRLS in as few words as possible.
A surreal story about the love held and secrets kept between two sisters.
2. Tell us a bit about YOU.
I’m a big sister. I have a baby sister, Laurel Rose. (I also have a younger brother, Josh, and younger half-siblings.) To understand me, you’d have to know that I’m the big sister first. This is why I can be protective, why I worry, and it’s also why I’m such a loner. I was the oldest and had to try everything first—and I didn’t have anyone older to look out for me. So I got used to doing things on my own and hated asking for help. But if my baby sister needed something from me, I’d be there in a heartbeat.
3. The journey is different for everyone, so much so that I don’t think there is a normal path to publication. Give us a glimpse into yours: How long did it take to write IMAGINARY GIRLS? Any surprises a long the way?
I was writing IMAGINARY GIRLS a long time before I even knew it would be a novel. It started off as a short story that I took to a summer workshop and then put aside, knowing it needed work and not sure how to do it. The work it ended up needing was a complete overhaul into a novel and a push into magical realism. So if you count the short story, and knowing there were long pauses in between, including a whole draft written of the book that I lost in a hard-drive crash and a whole other novel written in between (my middle-grade novel DANI NOIR), I guess I’ve been working on pieces of this book since the beginning of 2007.
All of this is a surprise. This moment, everything. The original short story was for adults. It was realistic fiction. I didn’t see this coming, even though I look back now and realize I was surrounded by hints.
4. What has been your favorite part of the publication process?
There have been wonderful moments that were thrilling pieces of time I will never forget: getting calls from literary agents, the day my book went to auction and I hid in my office at my day job with the door closed and afraid to come out, the moment I saw my beautiful cover and cried, my first editorial lunch with my editor when I realized she knew my characters as well as I did, my first starred review when I screamed, the moment I gave a copy of the book to my mom… But I think my favorite moment after all these crazy things is more recent. I’ve been avoiding reviews online—blogs, Goodreads, etc., I’ve just been in too fragile a place to be able to read reviews—but one day recently I was feeling weirdly thick-skinned and I Googled my book’s name. One of the first things I saw was a YouTube link and, curious, I clicked it. It turns out this was a vlog review of IMAGINARY GIRLS by a teen reader and blogger. She was so excited about the book. She clearly loved it and had thought deeply about it and understood it.
I watched her talking about my book and I just felt like everything had happened for this reason. To find a reader like this. THIS. This is why I’m writing.
I don’t expect to be seeking out reviews again anytime soon, but I’m so glad I happened upon that one on the one day I went looking. I needed to see it. It meant everything to me.
5. What was your favorite part of writing IMAGINARY GIRLS?
This sounds sick and wrong, but I loved revising this book. It took a lot out of me—IMAGINARY GIRLS went through five rounds of revision, my editor pushing me to new heights each time—but there is such beauty in carving out the layers of a story. The deeper you go, and the more work you do, the better and truer it gets. Revising, though frustrating and so intensely humbling at times, was also magical. Something new would end up on the page that I wouldn’t have discovered if I hadn’t revised my way toward it. It was during revision that I fell in love with my book all over again.
6. Villains. Really, what more do I need to say? They rock. Even though there’s not a classic hero/villain relationship in IMAGINARY GIRLS (there is an amazingly complex and oft unnerving sister relationship), give me your favorite villain.
The Snow Queen in the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale.
7. Most important question of all. Favorite kind of cupcake?
This might come as a surprise to those who know how much I love chocolate, but when it comes to cupcakes, the first thing I’ll look for is a strawberry cupcake with strawberry icing on top.
Nova, thank you so, so much for making the time to stop by.
Lovelies, if you have any questions, comments, leave them in the comment place.
ALSO, tell me whether you think I should do a SMALL giveaway on the 4th, or a big one (whatever I DON’T do on the 4th, I’ll do on the 11th).