This blog is about emerging author Melissa Wray and her journey into publication. It also includes some writing tips and useful links.
Melissa hopes there is enough time in her life to write all the stories she wants to write and read all the books she wants to read. Both lists are long!
Today we welcome the delightfully talented Yvonne Ventresca! Yvonne recently released her debut YA novel, Pandemic. She is going to share with us some of her experiences and insights into the writing world.
Tell us a little about your writing journey.
Several years ago, I wrote two nonfiction books for kids: Avril Lavigne (a biography of the singer) and Publishing (about careers in the field), which were both published by Lucent Books. Although I enjoyed writing nonfiction, my goal was always to write a novel. I found selling fiction, however, much more difficult. Pandemic, my debut, was actually the fourth story I’ve written. It took several tries to write a book that publishers were interested in.
How much research goes into you story?
Pandemic is a contemporary, realistic young adult novel about an emotionally traumatized teenager struggling to survive a bird flu outbreak. A lot of research went into Pandemic because I wanted to accurately show what would happen if a fatal flu struck unexpectedly. I interviewed a local health officer to learn how town officials would react and what problems might occur. For example, if Tamiflu-type medicine is limited, how would it be distributed? I also researched the timeline of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic (which was highly contagious but had a low death rate) to make my story believable. There are a lot of interesting nonfiction books about emerging diseases (such as David Quammen’s Spillover) and they helped as well.
'During a deadly contagious outbreak, one teenage girl must face disease, death, and her personal demons in order to survive.'
Any advice or tips for other writers?
It’s critical for writers to connect with other writers they trust to provide honest and helpful feedback. It can take some trial and error, and critique groups can change over time, but a good group can be invaluable.
Other than writing what else do you love?
I’ve been studying Isshinryu karate for over eight years and recently achieved the rank of Nidan (second degree black belt). I love karate because it requires both mental and physical effort and it includes a cultural element as well.
Who is your favourite author and why?
Growing up, I loved novels by Zilpha Keatley Snyder (www.zksnyder.com). She writes vivid stories with interesting characters that often include a paranormal twist. The Headless Cupid was my favorite.
My favorite YA books by Australian authors are Liar by Justine Larbalestier and the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld.