It’s debut author interview time! *says it with catchy intro-to-TV-show tune*
I got to speak with Mary Crockett, co-author of DREAM BOY (with Madelyn Rosenberg!) DREAM BOY is a YA Contemporary Fantasy that is CURRENTLY AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER ON AMAZON AHHHHH CLICK HERE TO DO THAT. It will be released on July 1st, 2014, by Sourcebooks Fire.
Mary Crockett’s debut novel Dream Boy is about the aftermath of dreams and the desire to figure out how you fit into the puzzle of your own life. It’s also about cute guys, epic kisses, and the mystical power of a really awesome pair of shoes. A native of the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, Mary grew up as the youngest of six children in a family of misfits. She has worked as everything from a history museum director to a toilet seat hand model. In her other life, she’s an award-winning poet, professional eavesdropper, and the person who wipes runny noses. If you tweet at her, chances are she will tweet back.
Mary describes DREAM BOY as: Girl dreams boy. Girl meets boy. Girl, boy, and friends save universe. It’s kind of like the movie Inception, but in reverse… and in high school!
Can you tell us a little about the inspiration for your debut book?
I’ve always been a bit obsessed with dreams. I was the kid who hid her dream dictionary behind her chemistry text book. You know the girl with that dazed look and some unidentified bit of lunch stuck on her chin? That was me. Salem High’s biggest dreamer.
But the idea for Dream Boy specifically came from watching a Ginger Rogers movie at 4 a.m. I was more than half-asleep while the movie was playing, so I really can’t tell you much more than that it had something to do with this guy in an Indian costume who seemed to pop out of Ginger Roger’s dream.
The next day, I was still thinking about dreams. How they work. Where they come from. How real they can be.
The idea of a dream person walking among us was just too intriguing to pass up. So many questions! I contacted my friend Madelyn Rosenberg and asked her the big “What if?” We set to work and a few million emails later, Dream Boy was done.
How did you come up with your title? Were there any you considered first?
Madelyn and I started casually to refer to the manuscript as Dream Boy (or DB for short) in emails. I always assumed we would sit down at some point to brainstorm for “real” titles. At that point, Dream Boy was nothing more than a convenient way to refer to the hulk of text passing back and forth between us.
Maybe I’m a creature of habit, but as time passed Dream Boy started feeling more and more like the inevitable title for the book. Knowing where the book was heading, I saw “Dream Boy” as simultaneously sincere and ironic. A great combination, right?
When Madelyn and I finally sat down for our big “what to name the novel” brainstorm, one of us started with, “Why don’t we just call it Dream Boy?”
The other agreed, and that was pretty much it. Our big brainstorm took all of two minutes.
What was the hardest part of writing this particular book?
Writing Dream Boy with Madelyn was an absolute trip. So. Much. Fun.
That said, it did make the editing process especially “vibrant,” shall we say.
Editing is just plain hard. All the different directions a writer explores along the way have to be paved into a single path. Of course, for us there were two explorers and twice as many explorations. Still, I can’t complain because Dream Boy’s ultimate path is much interesting because of all the wildness that found its way into the book.
Is there anything that helps you get into the writing zone – music, for example?
Driving in a car without children.
Waking up from a dream.
Listening to someone unusual being interviewed on public radio.
Sitting on a porch.
Sitting on a porch and eating peanuts.
Looking at the sky.
Picking up a pencil. Opening a notebook.
What is it about young adult fiction that draws you in as a writer?
To start with, I love teenagers. They’re at this wide-open and emotionally heightened point in their lives. A time when lots of fun/strange/confusing/mind-blowing/self-defining stuff is happening.
Some teens are also aware of the crap in the world, but aren’t entirely jaded—which makes for a cool tension in characters. Also along those lines, I like writing kisses without them having them inadvertently transition to words like “manhood” and “throbbing.” I mean, ick. (Or rhymes with ick.)
Was there ever a time when you seriously considered giving up on your writing dream?
This is a tough question for me. In some ways, my dreams have changed. I used to dream only of putting satisfying words together. I didn’t really care about publication or what anyone thought of my stuff. I wrote weird little poems, and I wrote them almost exclusively for myself. That went on for a LOT of years. And I worked at a lot of different jobs along the way.
Now I guess my dream is to write novels that people read and enjoy. It’s scary for me because, as a poet, I’m used to people ignoring my work. Poets pretty much write for an audience of one. When Thomas Hardy was criticized for Jude the Obscure, he gave up writing novels and turned to poetry because he knew he could say what he wanted without anyone noticing. In his words, “If Galileo had said in verse that the world moved, the inquisition might have let him alone.”
So I’m just getting used to this new dream. Ask me next year if I want to give up.
Do you have any advice for writers trying to get published?
When you are ready to send something out, realize that you may get rejected and try to be okay with it. It’s just part of the process. Don’t give it energy. Keep that for your writing.
Can you say anything about your next project/s?
I just finished drafting a handful of picture books that I’m really excited about. I’d been carrying them around in my idea file for years and it’s fun seeing them take shape on paper.
I’m also editing the draft of a mid-grade fairy tale, and I have four different YA novels in various early stages of development: one I’m working on with a friend, two I’m working on solo, and a fourth is in the “idea incubation” stage.
The process of working on all this at the same time is a bit daunting, but it’s kind of fun too. When I get stuck with one thing, there’s always something else I can dig into. It’s slow work, but pretty much everything is heading in interesting directions, so I’m happy.