How old are you?
–26. Some days going on 6. Some days going on 600. Rarely in between.
Where do you live?
–In corners and cupboards and coffee shops and foreign countries.
Who is your agent?
–I’m represented by the ninja known as Holly Root, over at Waxman Literary. My film agent is the delightful Jon Cassir at CAA.
Who do I contact about…?
…Translation/Subrights? Those questions should go to my agent, Holly : holly[at]waxmanagency[dot]com
…Publicity for THE NEAR WITCH or THE ARCHIVED? Those questions should go to my Disney*Hyperion publicist, Mary Ann : MaryAnn[dot]Zissimos[at]disney[dot]com
…Publicity for VICIOUS or A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC? Those questions go to my Tor publicist, Leah : Leah[dot]Withers[at]Tor[dot]com
…Publicity for EVERYDAY ANGEL? Those questions go to my Scholastic publicist, Rachel : RHoward[at]Scholastic[dot]com
…Everything else? Everything else should probably just come to me : vschwab[at]comcast[dot]net
How many books have you written?
–THE NEAR WITCH (2011), THE ARCHIVED (2013), VICIOUS (2013), THE UNBOUND (2014), EVERYDAY ANGEL (#1, #2, #3), A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC (2015), and I’ve got a few more in the pipeline.
Tell us five random things about yourself.
–I suffer from wanderlust. It’s a disease, really.
–I am very easily distracted by sunlight, and can’t stand to be inside if there’s any blue in the sky.
–I was arrested for hitchhiking in France.
–I don’t consider a day well-lived unless it takes up an entire page in my journal.
–I collect narwhals.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
–Be brave. Putting yourself and your work out there to be judged is a terrifying thing, to be sure. But this is a very hard industry, one built on critique and rejection, and in order to get through, you have to be brave. Your want of publication has to be greater than your fear of rejection. If you find yourself paralyzed by the mere notion of critique, then you do not want it badly enough. YET. You are not ready. YET. And that’s okay.
What’s your favorite TV show?
–Right now it’s a tie between Doctor Who and Downton Abbey.
–That is hard because I am what one might call an ENTERTAINMENT JUNKIE. And I have a particular weakness for movies. Especially action movies. And ones with superheroes. And spies. And explosions. BUT my favorite of all time is The Princess Bride.
–See, you can’t do that. Who could POSSIBLY select ONE book, or even a SMALL HANDFUL. There are so many spectacular books, whimsical, wonderful, terrifying, entrancing, hilarious books. I simply can’t pick. But I’m always happy to make a recommendation, so find me on Twitter.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
–I’m a connect-the-dots-er. I need to know the 5-10 key plot points that make my story, well, MY STORY, and then I set out. It’s an adventure.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
How did you get your agent?
–Using my patented agent-catching trap. It involves a cardboard box, a stick, and some chocolate…but seriously, I did it the old-fashioned way. I wrote a book. Not a few pages, or a few chapters, but a whole book. I made it the absolute best I could, and then I wrote a query letter pitching that book, and sent the letter to agents as per their submission guidelines, which can almost always be found online.
How much did you pay your publisher to publish your book?
–It doesn’t work that way. Publishers should pay YOU an advance, which is a fancy word for an amount of money paid upfront based on the number of copies the publisher is confident they can sell. Money should always be flowing toward the author, not away.
How much money do you make?/You must be rich!
–There’s this wonderfully odd notion in the world that authors make huge amounts of money writing books. I guess a few do, but the vast majority of us don’t make nearly enough to say we write books “for the money.” Also, that’s a rather rude question, and anyone who ever asks me gets the same answer: “$10.”
Will you read my manuscript?/Will you recommend me to your agent?
–I’m sorry, but I can’t read your book, and I don’t recommend anything to my agent unless I’ve read it. A bit of a Catch 22 there, isn’t i?
What do you do when you’re stressed?
–Lie down on the floor. It’s very dramatic. I try to breathe while I’m down there.
In all honesty, I don’t handle stress very well, which is inconvenient given that my job is pretty stressful (something to do with existing in an industry where success is almost entirely dependent on reception). I tend to work until I’ve frayed, and then have to stop and let myself knit back together.
Is THE ARCHIVED inspired in part by “Silence in the Library”? (DW, Season 4, ep. 9)
–While THE ARCHIVED has a few nods to Doctor Who scattered through the book, the funny thing is I didn’t get to that season the show until after the first draft was written (so no, the idea for the library didn’t come from that episode). I was living in the UK at the time, and watching DW while I was drafting, but only got through Season 3 before I hit the end of the book. It was quite a treat to watch Season 4 and 5 as a reward, and discover that episode!
In general, how have other works influenced your writing?
–I’m inspired by writers more than by works. I’m inspired by their journeys, their struggles, their humility/composure/grace. That said, nothing makes me want to be BETTER than a truly phenomenal book. And not in a competitive sense, just in an awestruck, this-can-exist-in-the-world way. The three authors whose writing consistently brings me to that point are Neil Gaiman, Cat Valente, and Laini Taylor.
Who is the most random and unpredictable character you have ever written? And do you like how he/she has a life of it’s own?
–Lucian Nix. He’s this old, blind man who lives on the top floor of the Coronado in THE ARCHIVED. He’s always about to set his scarf on fire with his cigarette, and he’s got a bit of a mouth on him. I never know what’s going to come out of it.
Who’s your favorite book boy?
–I have an unhealthy love of the Darkling in Leigh Bardugo’s SHADOW AND BONE, and a slightly healthier adoration of Augustus Waters in THE FAULT IN OUR STARS.
Favourite holiday/Least favourite?
What’s your favorite book world?
–Probably the alternate reality of Holly Black’s WHITE CAT.
What do you have on your desk (or in your bag, or near you) when you write? Is it for luck? Inspiration?
–I always have a cup of tea, and a notebook, though I almost never write in it. There’s something comforting about the presence of pen and paper. And there’s always art. The writing nook in my room is plastered with prints and posters and illustrations and quote cards.
What is something not many people know about you (and you wouldn’t mind sharing with the internet)?
–When I was very young I had an accident and dislocated my left hip. They put it back, but that leg doesn’t work perfectly (I’m a runner, and a swimmer, which helps, but it’s still bothersome). I joke that I’ll need something more bionic by the time I’m 30. Or a cane. I’ve always wanted a sword cane.
How many books do you have coming out?
Right now, seven. One is already on shelves (THE NEAR WITCH), two more are coming in 2013 (THE ARCHIVED and VICIOUS), and the rest will follow.
How many novels did you write before you wrote the one that landed you the agent? Did you query any of them?
–I wrote one. It was pretty bad–it was my first and I had no idea what I was doing–and I put it away for six months. I ended up coming back to it, and revising, and querying, and the second version of it was intriguing enough to get me an agent, but it wasn’t the book that sold. About eight months into it being on submission (and getting oh-so-close several times) I decided to write something new, and that was THE NEAR WITCH.
What first drew you to narwhals?
–I was living overseas, in Liverpool, and was terribly homesick, so I went online looking for a stuffed animal (I had only brought two small suitcases, nothing to cuddle) and ended up on a site for these things called Squishables. One of the models was this narwhal, and I thought it was all kinds of awesome. But it wasn’t until six months later, when my narwhal obsession had reached its peak, that someone told me THEY WERE REAL. My mind was blown. To me, their existence made the world a little more magical.
If you could have tea with anyone, past, present, or future, who would it be?
–Oscar Wilde. I think he’d be divine company.
What’s your favorite kind of cookie?
–I’m an old-fashioned girl when it comes to baked goods, and like chocolate chip cookies. My mum taught me to make them when I was five, and I’ve been baking them up ever since.
Are you a cat person or a dog person?
–I’m an animal person. I have both dogs and cats, but my personal preference is probably canine.
What is your favorite type of magic?
–The real kind.
What is your favorite type of genre to read? to write?
–It depends entirely on what I’m writing at the time. I can’t read what I’m writing, so if I’m working on a YA, I’m probably reading adult, and vice versa. I’d say that regardless of YA/MG/Adult, I lean toward the magical, because I read to escape, and would usually rather escape to somewhere with magic.
When are you coming to (insert city here)?
I don’t know! But I update my APPEARANCES page as soon as events are finalized.
Who’s your fave character that you’ve written?
–That’s such a hard question. Wesley Ayers (THE ARCHIVED) holds a special place in my heart, but so does Victor Vale (the lead of the upcoming VICIOUS), and Aria, the whimsical main character in my new middle grade series.
If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
–A baker. Or a pantheistic and pagan symbology scholar. Or a treasure hunter. (not actually kidding about any of these)
What do you like to drink?
–Tea. English Breakfast. No milk. If you put a cup of Earl Grey near me I will look at you with an appropriate amount of disgust.
Do you have specific music that helps you write?
–I don’t actually listen to music WHILE writing, but I’m almost always listening to it when I’m not. I often say that I think writers learn craft from reading, but find inspiration from other mediums—movies, TV, songs, art—and I find music to be so moving in a visceral way. For me, nothing evokes a feeling faster or more consistently than the right song.
What’s your favourite season?
–Fall. By far. Between the first chill in the air and the changing leaves and the want to be cozy and the far of smell of winter and wood smoke, there’s no time I love more.
Where can I stalk you online?