This week, I have the pleasure of welcoming to the ball one of my oldest friends within the publishing industry, Lindsay Ribar. Lindsay was actually one of the first people who ever knew anything about From Unseen Fire, as she was one of the agents I pitched the book to back at a Harry Potter convention in 2012! I was brave enough to pitch to her, honestly, only because her younger sister and I had been friends through LiveJournal for years already, proving just how small the world can be sometimes. Then, delightfully, we got to sit on a panel together at Leviosa 2016, discussing the experience of being an author who went from fanfic to professional publishing. And now she works for DAW! Lindsay is an all-around magnificent person, as well as a terrific writer. Her debut, The Art of Wishing, is heartfelt, funny, and one of my favorite YA novels. I’m always happy when we can cross paths in New York or at conventions, and I’m delighted to spotlight her on The Debutante Ball!
THE DEB INTERVIEW:
Who is one of your favorite (fictional or non-fictional) characters?
Oh man, there are so many! But, you know, the one I keep coming back to, over and over again, is Remus Lupin from the Harry Potter series. My love for this character has become so deeply ingrained, over so much time, that it’s almost impossible to explain; the best I can do is to say that reading him in Prisoner of Azkaban was my first experience of actively realizing that readers can often tell when an author truly loves the character they’re writing. You can see it in the details that Rowling assigns to him, and in the delicacy of the interactions that Harry has with him in the first part of the book.
Prisoner of Azkaban is where I love him most, obviously, but I will also defend to the death his character arc throughout the series, even—especially!—in Deathly Hallows. Except for the part where he not only dies, but dies off-page. I don’t think I’ll ever forgive Rowling for that.
Talk about one thing that’s making you happy right now.
Right now? That’s gotta be Yuri!!! On Ice, the queer-as-all-heck ice skating anime that came out in late 2016. I mean, you guys remember what late 2016 was like? A giant trashfire that only been getting worse ever since? Yeah, turns out that by the time YOI came across my radar, it was exactly what I needed: a “Will he win the thing?!” competition story that served as the framework for one of the sweetest love stories I’ve ever seen on screen. Plus the way that it dealt with mental health in a seriously realistic and relatable way. Plus, did I mention the thing where it’s queer as all heck?
Yeah, so the YOI fandom has been my relax-and-recharge space for well over a year now. The art and fanfic that this community has been producing is really, really amazing!
Have you ever tried writing in a different genre? How did that turn out?
So actually, my new book, The Pros of Cons, is my first time writing in a new genre! My first three books (as well as most of the books I’ve started and never finished) are all fantasy; the Art of Wishing duology is about a high school girl who falls in with (and falls in love with) a shapeshifting, gender-bending genie, and Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies is about an arrogant teenaged boy who can reach into other people and steal parts of their personalities away. If these were adult books, they would probably be classified as urban fantasy—but over here in YA, the genre lines are drawn a little differently, which means my books have been called “contemporary with a twist” and “light fantasy” and “magical realism” and all sorts of other things that generally mean “not realistic but not epic fantasy either.”
The Pros of Cons, though, is a contemporary realistic YA novel, which is a departure for me. But it was actually a departure for both of my co-authors, too. It was Alison’s first time writing in the past tense instead of the present (and believe me, that change is way more difficult than it looks), and it was Michelle’s first time writing YA instead of middle grade! It was nice writing contemporary for the first time alongside two other people who were also trying new things.
What three things would you want with you if stranded on a desert island?
I hope you don’t mean only physical things or only realistic things, because my list probably looks something like this:
- The knowledge of how to build a boat from materials that you can easily find on a desert island
- A sand- and waterproof e-reader that never needs to be recharged
Do you have a regular first reader? If so, who is it and why that person?
I have two, and they are same people who wrote The Pros of Cons with me!
I met Alison Cherry in 2012 through the Lucky 13s, which was basically a support group for children’s book authors who were set to debut in 2013. We met online, made a date to meet in person, and hit it off pretty much immediately! And what do two debut authors do when they hit it off immediately? They exchange books, of course. We read each other’s books in a single day, as I recall; that was how much we liked each other’s writing. We’ve been beta-reading for each other ever since.
Michelle was a 2014 debut, and I believe I met her through Alison. She basically flipped a table when I told her that one of the backstory relationships in my genie duology pulled heavily from the Doctor/Master relationship in Doctor Who, and I was so goddamn impressed by the subtle progressiveness of the gender stuff she did in her I Heart Band middle grade series. We’ve been beta-reading for each other ever since, too!
And let me tell you, it is so awesome to co-author a book with two people whose writing you’re already so madly in love with!
— The Debutante Ball (@DebutanteBall) March 24, 2018