If you’re looking for my Pitch Wars bio and wishlist, it’s right underneath this post. 🙂
In the midst of the smoky battleground that is Pitch Wars, a bright spot arises: an interview with Jaye Robin Brown! (Who, incidentally, is also a Pitch Wars mentor. Send her your YA!)
Jaye is the author of upcoming 2014 debut NO PLACE TO FALL, a YA contemporary from Harper Teen about a young girl’s dreams of escaping a small town and dysfunctional family to pursue her love of song.
Jaye Robin Brown, or Jro to her friends, lives and writes in the mountains north of Asheville, North Carolina. She is fond of horses, dogs, the absurd and the ironic. When not writing, you can find her in the art room of the high school where she teaches.
Her debut young adult novel, NO PLACE TO FALL, comes out in the fall of 2014 from Harper Teen. It’s about dreams, singing, friendship, love, betrayal, family, and mistakes. It’s also a love song to small town girls and mountain music, both of which shape the area that Jaye now calls home.
Can you tell us a little about the inspiration for your debut book?
I was inspired by my students. Appalachia gets such a bad rap in the media, and though stereotypes are there for a reason, that’s not the whole of it. The teenagers I teach have dreams and longings just like kids who grow up with the world at their fingertips. I wanted to write a book for the girls who don’t always make the right choices, whose dreams are bigger than their circumstances, and so they have to figure things out themselves by doing and undoing, and who, despite it all, have hearts that don’t stop giving. This is my love song to them. It’s also a great big nod to mountain music and cute boys who play banjos.
How did you come up with your title? Were there any you considered first?
No Place To Fall was not my first title. As publishing goes, sometimes the author’s title sticks, sometimes it doesn’t. In my case it didn’t. So my editor brainstormed a list of possible titles, I added to it, and No Place To Fall was what we kept coming back to. What cinched it for me was an informal poll I did of my students asking which they would pick up off the shelf. Title A or Title B. They, to a person, chose No Place To Fall.
What was the hardest part of writing this particular book?
Learning to work with an editor was, at first, hard for me. My editor is amazingly wonderful and I feel so lucky, but I didn’t understand the process. In my mind, I’d crafted this book that had been through multiple revisions, beta reads, more revisions, even an agent R&R, so when it came to our first pass, I didn’t dig deep enough. When I got my second edit letter, I felt so mad at myself. Like I had failed. But lucky for me, I’m the type who sees defeat as a challenge and I worked my tuckus off to make it sing. Fortunately, my editor agreed.
Is there anything that helps you get into the writing zone – music, for example?
I can’t listen to music when I write. Quiet and coffee do the trick for me. I do have a writing office and the act of sitting at my desk with laptop in front of me, puts me in the zone. Music is my pre-writing activity. I’ve discovered the joy of playlists and I’ll compile every song which in any way makes me think about a shiny new idea. When a manuscript is complete, I’ll revise the playlist.
What is it about young adult fiction that draws you in as a writer?
I live an adult life. Why in the world would I want to write about it? It’s so much more fun to put myself in a world where everything and nothing is still possible. You’re on the brink as a teenager. You feel alive and ready but at the same time parents are there holding you back, maybe spurring you on, but they’re not quite ready to let you fly. (And, yes, I do put parents in my books) Plus, it’s a ton of fun!
Was there ever a time when you seriously considered giving up on your writing dream?
It took me a long time to get to my writing dream. And for a while I didn’t know it was a dream. Writing was something I’d always done, and always received positive feedback for, but writing a novel? You know there’s a bit of beauty in being at a place where you’ve had other careers when you come to this. It feels less desperate. There’s a mad frenzy among all of us to write, write, write, with this goal of writing full-time. And sure, that’s my goal, too, but it feels kind of zen to be a “woman of a certain age” and know I can do other things. That said, I don’t think I’ll give up, even if the publishing part gets hard. There are so many avenues available to writers these days.
Do you have any advice for writers trying to get published?
Read. Seriously, how can you know what’s out there unless you read? I’m so surprised when I talk to student writers about books and they’ll be all “Oh, I never read.” Whaaatttt???
And this is cliche, but, write the best damn book you can write. That’s all any of us can do.
Can you say anything about your next project/s?
I’ve got another contemporary that I’m hoping will be book 2 in my deal with Harper Collins. It’s about popsicle trucks and Habitat for Humanity and finding your way out of grief only to realize the world never stopped spinning.
I’m also working on a historical MG that is a personal project. And I have companion book ideas for both of my contemporaries! So lots and lots to keep me busy.
Thanks so much for having me visit, Laura!
You’re very welcome!
Yay for Jaye! (Best rhyme ever.)