FLAWLESS is a modern retelling of the Cyrano story in which a senior-class salutatorian with a notable nose agrees to help her perfectly gorgeous best friend catch the eye of the new hottie at school, only to discover he’s actually the perfect guy for her.
Before asking Lara to do an interview with us, I took up the offer on her website to read the teaser from FLAWLESS. It was so easy to fall right into step with the characters, that I wanted to read on and had to know more about this author's journey to publication. If you love a retelling and/or contemporary YA romance, go check her out. (We'll wait if you want.)
Okay -- on with the interview!
Is this your first novel? How long would you say it took you to perfect it?
FLAWLESS isn’t my first novel. I began submitting adult contemporary romance to contests and getting a lot of comments like “your heroine sounds like a teenager,” so I decided to try my hand at YA. It was a perfect fit for my voice – I can’t imagine writing anything else.
FLAWLESS didn’t take me long to write. I spent about a week storyboarding and wrote the first draft in about six weeks. That’s just how I write… total focus until it’s done! Lots of all-nighters and emailing my awesome critique partners. I took about another month to revise before submitting
Retellings are pretty popular right now. What do you think sets a retelling apart from the rest of the pack?
There are some truly timeless stories… Cinderella, Romeo and Juliet, etc. Sometimes, a retelling is a reader’s first experience with the storyline. I know that, for some, the thought of reading Shakespeare is intimidating – a retelling is a good introduction to that storyline in a more accessible format.
FLAWLESS is already scheduled for release in the UK, Czechoslovakia, and Turkey. Can you tell us a little about how those sales happened and what it means to you to go international with your debut novel?
First of all… how crazy is it that FLAWLESS is being published internationally?! I can’t even wrap my head around that. I know very little about how those sales took place – Bloomsbury handled all of those sales. The news of each of them was in an email and it floored me every single time!
You're represented by the super-awesome Holly Root and I loved reading your "how I got my agent story." But the last part of your interview was the most inspirational for me. (In short, Lara queried Holly, didn't hear back from her, and learned a year later that the query had been lost in her inbox. When she finally read it, she requested the full and six weeks later, Holly offered representation.) WOW!! How did you fill that year-long wait period and convince yourself not to give up?
Pretty amazing, isn’t it? I couldn’t believe it when Holly emailed me and said she’d just found the partial of FLAWLESS in her spam folder and wanted the full. What’s even more surprising is that I didn’t follow up with her – that is the exact opposite of how I normally work.
The secret is to NEVER quit writing. My critique partners were so awesome – they held me accountable for chapters even when I didn’t feel like writing. By the time I’d heard from Holly on FLAWLESS, I had completed another novel and a half!
Any advice you'd like pass on to your fellow aspiring debut YA novelists?
Two things: 1) Don’t give up! If you’re feeling like you aren’t making any progress or your writing seems stale, try your hand at something else… poetry, novellas, or a different genre. Sometimes that’s all it takes to make something click and get you fired up about writing again. 2) Keep learning! Writers spend an untold number of hours (and money) on workshops and conferences. Sometimes, what we learn sticks long term. Other times, we need to hear it again and practice it or tweak it to make it ours. If you quit learning, your writing can’t improve and that’s the key building a long-term career.
How did you celebrate release day and do you have any continuing celebratory plans?
I didn’t get to celebrate too much on the actual booksigning day… regular day-to-day life kept demanding my attention! I’m signing with a group of Texas YA authors through the month of May, so I plan to celebrate repeatedly in each town we visit! You can check out our tour schedule at www.chillsandthrillsteenbooktour.wordpress.com.
BONUS QUESTION: You're going to be stranded on a desert oasis and you can pick to bring with you either 5 books or an iPod/MP3 player, but not both. Which do you choose?
iPod! Why? AUDIOBOOKS!
If you want to pick up your copy of FLAWLESS, head on over to Amazon, B&N, Book Depository or drive on down to your local Indie. Thank you, Lara, for joining us and we look forward to following your career!
And there you have it... learning new or inspiring today?