Fifteen-year-old Blake has a girlfriend and a friend who’s a girl. One of them loves him, the other one needs him.
When he snapped a picture of a street person for his photography homework, Blake never dreamed that the woman in the photo was his friend Marissa’s long-lost meth addicted mom. Blake’s participation in the ensuing drama opens up a world of trouble, both for him and for Marissa. He spends the next few months trying to reconcile the conflicting roles of Boyfriend and Friend. His experiences range from the comic (surviving his dad’s birth control talk) to the tragic (a harrowing after-hours visit to the morgue).
In a tangle of life and death, love and loyalty, Blake will emerge with a more sharply defined snapshot of himself.
New Week, New Deb. This week we’ve got the incredibly funny L.K. Madigan, author of the forthcoming Flash Burnout, which will be released by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt this fall! L.K. is an author living in Portland, Oregon. Visit her at: http://www.lkmadigan.com.
Flash Burnout is your debut novel, so a big congrats on that. But can you give us a little statistical rundown on how long it took you to get to this point? How many books? How many rejections? How many days, months, or years?
The short answer is that I got serious about writing for young adults in 2001. Eight years later, my book is coming out.
The longer answer is that I wrote some picture books and two novels during the first four years, submitted them to probably 25 agents, got discouraged, and shelved them. I started working on a third novel, completed it in December 2005, and spent the next two years querying about 20 agents/editors. I was thisclose to giving up the idea of writing for publication when I got the YES from my agent, Jennifer Laughran. I look at those two years of rejection now as fate. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was waiting for my Dream Agent to decide she wanted to be an agent.
That’s so sweet. It’s like y’all were meant to be! Which”Call” thrilled you more? The call in which you landed an agent or the call in which you landed your book deal? Can you describe to us what it felt like?
One was thrilling in an OMG-I’ve-Been-Going-on-Blind-Dates-for-Two-Years-Have-I-Finally-Met-Mr-Right?! kind of way.
The other was more of a You’ve-Just-Won-a-Million-Dollars-AND-Fulfilled-a-Lifelong-Dream kind of thrill. (Er, not that I got paid a million dollars … just that I felt like I did.)
So they were both massively thrilling in very distinct ways.
Million dollars or Mr. Right? Glad you didn’t have to choose. Tell me a little bit about writing from a teen boy’s perspective. Easier? Harder?
I don’t know what this says about me as a person with lady parts, but I do find it easier to write from the teen boy’s perspective. I’m a big fan of the male animal, and have spent my life in close study and ardent admiration of them.
Throughout your journey as a writer, what resources have you found most valuable to your success? Websites? Books? Conferences?
Voices in my head.
And more recently, a pair of noise-cancelling headphones. (The better to hear the imaginary voices with, my dear!)
I marvel at the intimacy of the Internet, too. I’ve made many friends over the four years that I’ve been blogging, some of whom I’ve even gotten to meet in person. My writing life would be much lonelier without them.
You mentioned voices in your head. Does that, um, worry you? Should you maybe see a doctor?
(What does she mean, asking us such an impertinent question?!) (Shh, let me handle this.) No, Chandler, haha. Awkward! I was being metaphorical. They’re not ACTUAL voices. (We’re not? We’re not real?) (Shh! I said be quiet!) (She’s pretty.) (Let’s name a character Chandler.) (I’m hungry.)
Yes! Listen to them. Name a character Chandler!
Did you feel your relationship with your agent changed after your sale?
No, she abuses me with undiminished enthusiasm.
This is Fumbling with Fiction, so I have to ask, in your writing career have you ever had a big “Oops!” moment?
Errgghh, I am never going to stop cringing over it: I confused an agent’s last name with a new client at work. (They both started with Sch, if you’re really curious.) She was completely kind about it, but like I said … still cringing here.
Hey, if that’s the worst thing that happens, I think you can consider yourself ahead. You’re now at the beginning of your writing career. Can you believe it? Where would you like that sure-to-be illustrious career to take you?
And then back to my comfy red chair, where I do a lot of my writing.
Truly: I want it all. I want the goofy hats and the teacups and the rollercoasters of publishing, then I want peace and quiet to focus on the craft.
That would be awesome.
I was unaware that publishing came with goofy hats and teacups. See! THIS is why I need to interview you guys. Tell us a little about receiving your first editorial letter. What was yours like? How did you feel when you received it?
Authors who have received 12-page editorial letters are going to curse me, but my first editorial letter was one page long. It accompanied a marked-up manuscript, too, of course, but it was a pleasant surprise to read it and feel like, “I can do this,” instead of curling up into a frightened ball. I did gasp audibly, however, at one line: “I’d like you to start thinking of other possible titles.” In the end, my editor decided to keep FLASH BURNOUT, much to my joy and relief.
One page! Wow. Finally, if you could have written one book previously published by another author, which book would it be?
FINGERSMITH, by Sarah Waters. I just read it this year, and I can’t stop raving about it.
It’s set in the Victorian era, and it’s brilliant. It’s fast-paced and tense, full of all the elements you want in a Victorian mystery: orphans and thieves, a creepy country estate and a handsome scoundrel, burning desires and cruel greed. Sigh. I would love to be able to write like that.
Thanks for the interview, Chandler!