Marie, thank you so much for taking the time to visit us at Words at Home. I am so excited to be able to share this space with you and your work this week! Can you start us off by introducing yourself and telling us a few things that we wouldn’t think to ask you about?
Answer: Thanks so much for having me, Bonnie! A few things you might not think to ask, hmm…well, I’m 28, and I live in Ontario, Canada. Blue Sky Days was my first published book, but not the first book I wrote. I wrote the first draft when I was 20 and put it away, and wrote several other novels in the next few years, but it’s not likely any of them will ever see the light of day. Besides writing, I love reading, photography, music, and graphic design.
I’m so excited to be able to share this space with a Canadian author. Do you yourself have a favourite Canadian author or work of fiction?
Answer: Yay for Canadians! My favourite Canadian author is definitely Lucy Maud Montgomery and her Anne of Green Gables series. Those books are so iconic, and they resonated with me very deeply when I read them as a young girl. I’m actually planning to reread them soon and showcase them in the Canadian Spotlight Month I’m hosting in July on my blog.
Since we are celebrating contemporary fiction this month can you tell us who your favourite contemporary fiction authors are and your top contemporary fiction book recommendations?
Answer: My favorite contemporary adult writer is hands-down Nora Roberts. She has this way of weaving beautiful writing with characters that are relatable and memorable, and plotlines that are full of romance, friendship, suspense, humour, and everything else that makes a book a star in my eyes.
These days, I read mostly YA books, and I adore contemporary YA. A few of my recent favourites are Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard, The Princesses of Iowa by M Molly Backes, Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe by Shelley Coriell, and Ten Things We Did (And Probably Shouldn’t Have) by Sarah Mlynowski.
Marie, can you talk a little about your decision to self-publish?
Answer: It wasn’t an easy decision. About three years ago a friend and I wrote a book together and we looked into self-publishing while we queried agents. We quickly decided self-pubbing wasn’t for us – the general consensus seemed to be that self-publishing was for hacks and wannabes, and that all self-published books were poorly written with no editing whatsoever.
Jump ahead two years to the beginning of 2011 when I pulled Blue Sky Days out after several years and decided I wanted to publish it. I spent months researching self-publishing, and saw that although some of the stigma remained, there were a lot of successful self-published authors out there who were excellent writers and just wanted the freedom and control that self-publishing allows. I struggled with the decision for quite awhile, going back and forth, but in the end I decided it would be worth the risk, and I haven’t regretted it for a moment.
What did you find to be the most difficult part of the writing or publishing process? What was the most rewarding part?
Answer: The most difficult part of the writing process for me is revisions. I have a love/hate relationship with revisions – a lot of the real meat of the story comes out during that time, but it’s also time-consuming and exhausting. I also had a few issues with beta readers and my editor, so that added to the stress. The most rewarding part is having people read my work and tell me they loved it and that it really hit home with them for whatever reason. People say you need to develop a thick skin in this business – which is true – and not to take negative reviews personally, but Blue Sky Days is an intensely personal story for me, so it can be hard not to be hurt by some of the negative reviews. That’s why I try to focus on the good ones, and the people who email me or visit my blog or message me on Facebook or Twitter and tell me how much the story meant to them.
Are you plotter or a write-by-the-seat-of-your-pants type author?
Answer: A bit of both. I always start out with a rough idea, and I write down every single idea that comes into my head, whether it’s about the characters, the plot, the setting, snippets of dialogue, whatever. Then I start writing, and things usually take a different direction than I’d originally intended. I always refer to my notes to see if there’s something I’ve forgotten that should be added in, but my stories tend to take on a life of their own.
What is your favourite line from Blue Sky Days?
Answer: I don’t know about a favourite line, but I have a favourite scene – Emma and Nicholas’s first kiss. I have no idea why it’s my favourite, but it’s always stuck out in my mind. The whole scene is kind of long, but I particularly like this part:
“Nicholas pushed a few strands of wet hair away from my face. Droplets of rain clung to his eyelashes and dripped from his hair. His mouth was curved into a hint of a smile, his eyes locked on mine. When his body shifted to lean toward me, my knees began to shake and I worried that I would melt into a puddle and wash away with the rain. He paused, his lips lingering close to mine, barely touching, but just enough to have my lips tingling in anticipation. This was it; I was about to have my first kiss, and it just happened to be with the most beautiful boy in the world.”
Are you working on anything else right now? Can you tell us about it?
Answer: I actually just finished writing my second novel a couple weeks ago. I took a short break from writing young adult, and this second book is women’s fiction/chick lit. It’s about friendship, family, change, and there’s a little bit of romance thrown in because I’m a romance junkie and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to write a story that doesn’t have at least some romance! It’s called The Game Changer, and I’m hoping to have it ready for the world by the end of summer.
Marie, thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us. I’m so glad you could be a part of this awesome contemporary fiction event!
This feature is being shared as a part of the Contemporary Month event being hosted by Evie at Bookish, Bonnie at Words at Home and Asheley at Into The Hall of Books. Click the banner below for full Words at Home schedule.