I’m thrilled to host the next stop on Denise Jaden’s blog tour. Denise’s YA contemporary novel, LOSING FAITH, debuts this week.
Denise and I met through our agent, Michelle Humphrey of International Creative Management. We’ve since become critique partners. I value her honesty, sharp eye, and generous feedback.
Be sure to enter to win a signed copy of LOSING FAITH and a book bag made by my talented friend, Robyn Vines Smith of the Warehouse Fabrics Inc. blog. Deadline to enter is Sunday, September 12 at 3:00pm MDT. This contest is open internationally!
Can you tell us about LOSING FAITH?
Sure! LOSING FAITH is the story of Brie Jenkins, a sixteen-year-old girl who loses her sister, Faith, in a tragic fall from a cliff. Through the bizarre and devastating process of mourning her sister, Brie discovers that her so-called predictable sister had some pretty big secrets, including a strange religious home group she had joined and kept from Brie and the rest of her family.
What inspired you to write this story?
At first, I just knew I wanted to write a sister story. From there, I figured out that one of the sisters had a secret, and the secret would only be discovered after she died. I lost a close friend of mine when I was sixteen, and I’ve always felt there was a lot to explore with a teen experiencing such a big and devastating event. It’s hard to remember exactly where the story started in my mind, but that’s my best guess.
What was your publication process like, from initial idea to sale?
I came up with the idea for LOSING FAITH in the summer of 2007. Through the summer and early fall, I worked on a detailed outline for the book and had my critique partner go through and scrutinize it for me. By November, I was ready to launch into NaNoWriMo, and I wrote the first draft in 21 days. From there, I spent about nine months revising and then begun my agent search. I queried widely with several requests and many rejections and then went to a writer’s conference in October 2008, where I received some encouragement and advice from authors and editors. From there, I revised one more time and then sent out a new batch of queries. I got my first “Call” offering representation a couple of weeks later, and was absolutely floored when more offers followed. After signing with the *fabulous* Michelle Humphrey, she did a line edit on my book, sent it out on submission in January, 2009, and we had an offer in early March. So basically two years from idea to sale, but that doesn’t include all the other “practice” books on my hard drive…
What books have shaped you as a reader and writer, from childhood to the present?
To be honest, I never read much as a child or teen. I dabbled in a bit of Judy Blume, and still remember TALES OF A FOURTH GRADE NOTHING and ARE YOU THERE GOD, IT’S ME MARGARET? But really, I didn’t read much until I was well into adulthood, when a good friend passed me a book called KANE AND ABEL by Jeffrey Archer. That, I would say, was the book that really ignited my love for reading. Since then, I gobbled up all sorts of mainstream adult fiction until I discovered my true love of YA. Now I’m a big fan of Laurie Halse Anderson and Sarra Manning, among many other awesome up and coming writers.
What is one thing people misunderstand about young adult books?
Good question! I think many people have the general perception that YA fiction can be simple or talk down to teens. In my opinion, many teens have the time to be more introspective and in some ways deeper than adults.
Are you working on anything new?
Yes, I’m working on another contemporary YA novel called PERFECT AIM. It’s about a teenage archer whose plans to reunite her family go way off target and she finds solace in the arms of a young and understanding teacher.
Thank you, Denise, for sharing your story with us. I hope this the beginning of a long, satisfying career.
To enter the LOSING FAITH and book bag giveaway, share in the comments section one thing you’ll take away from this interview. The winner will be announced Monday, September 13.
I agree with that. When people ask what books I blog about and I say YA or young adult. I usually get this expression that says “Meh.” And then after that, I usually explain how YA is like. How it’s passionate, thoughtful and focused on the metamorphosis in various aspects of a teen.
I would love to be included in the giveaway if this is open internationally. Thanks!
Jill of The O.W.L. says
I’m going to take away that fact that she didn’t read muh as a teen! That’s kinda rare to find in an author.
foltzsfantasticbooks at gmail.com
how wonderful you found a great crit parner through your agent!
nice interview. This book sounds amazing!
Adventures in Children's Publishing says
Denise raises such a good point. Teens are actively thinking and searching for a sense of self, making them even more aware. I love reading YA more than any other genre. Great authors, great books… what more can a reader ask for?
Thanks Caroline and BIG thanks Denise!
graffkidlit at gmail dot com
Julie P. says
I just love the author’s comment that many people perceive YA to be simple because that’s so not true. Just this week, I’ve read quite a few YA books and I’ve been amazed how complex the characters are.
I’ll take the fact that siters have a secret. They do! At least me and my sister have some secrets, they aren’t big but we like to keep it to ourselves. And of course, I do too have a secret of my own that I can’t share with my sister but for some reason I trust my two BFF with that. Bizarre, huh? Some things are meant to happen that way, but when it comes to trust I always think my sister will be there for me no matter what.
The other thing I can relate to Denise is that she didn’t read as much as a kid. I didn’t either. The other day my father was talking about me because he saw me jumping up and down about books I wanted to read. He smiled and said: “It was worthy”. Then I asked him what it was and he said: “When you were little I was afraid you’ll never read any books seeing that you only did your homework because the school said so. I’d be sitting in the sofa reading while you’d be pouting with an angry expression on your face because you had to read a story the school sent you to read. I’d then tell myself that it didn’t matter if you weren’t into books like I am because somehow I knew one day you’ll develop a love for them”
And it happened. Two years ago, when I was sixteen I suddenly had the urge to get my nose into books. I craved for them as I ache for reading any books now. I thanked my father then, it’s because of him I love reading and won’t ever stop doing it so. 🙂
Amanda Hosch says
Thanks so much for posting this interview with Denise. I’ve been following both of your blogs with great interest.
I’ll take away that while the first draft took 21 days, the revision took 9 months!
To me, this shows that Denise’s original idea flowed AND she is really serious about the craft of writing (and re-writing).
I can’t wait to read Losing Faith when I buy it on Tuesday (and May B next year).
Best of luck to both of you!
Denise Jaden says
Wow, I barely awake and look at all of these thoughtful comments already! Thanks, everyone! And thank you to Caroline for hosting me and to Robyn for the great bag (sad face that *I* can’t win it!)
Very cool to see Denise mention Kane and Abel. I remember reading that when I was probably around fifteen or so and really loving it.
I’m in awe that she wrote her first draft of Losing Faith in only twenty-one days!
Jan Cline says
I love that you realize YA’s can read deeper than grade school fiction. My 15 year old granddaughter has waned in her faith and I have been looking for some fiction that would hold her attention, yet speak to her heart. Thank you for writing!
jancline [at]ymail [dot] com
I found a new way to argue about YA titles in the summer reading program(s) at the school and library. Often the teachers will say that there is no meaningful or ‘serious’ YA out there because that which they hear about–Twilight, Vampire Diaries, Hunger Games–aren’t ‘serious’ lit in terms of story and focus (they may have serious themes however, but that isn’t the bulk of the story).
I will make them understand! ::determined pose::
I actually did read while I was a child (R.L. Stine!) but not while I was a teen. I think the required reading in high school tortured me and I couldn’t handle reading anything else for fun. 😛 Once I picked up a few YAs as an adult, I fell in love. It’s one of my favorite genres to read.
Kaitlyn (Kaitlyn in Bookland) says
Thanks so much for this! It’s good to know that I’m not the only one who didn’t read a lot as a teen 🙂
Denise would probably be happy to know that she, as an accomplished author, is instilling in her own mother, a love for reading.
Talli Roland says
I love the premise of this – it had me hooked straight away! Thanks for the interviews.
~The Book Pixie says
Denise is sooo right. I really hate the way people down-play the quality of YA books. Honestly, I think they’re the best kind out there. 😀 Awesome interview.
Jenny N. says
I agree with Denise. When I tell people that I read YA books they give you this look and always whats so good about it. I used to read a lot of romance books then slowly started reading YA and now mostly every book I read is YA.
Shannon O'Donnell says
Great interview, Caroline. I always appreciate the “how” stories – how did they get their agent and how long to write, to edit, to publish. Thanks.
And that book bag is fabulous!! 🙂
Inspired Kathy says
I’m going to check out the book Kane and Abel that inspired her love of reading! Also check into Sarra Manning’s book since I’m not familiar with her.
Thanks for entering me!
Shooting Stars Mag says
wonderful interview! I took away the fact that she has lots of “practice novels” as well. It’s nice to hear that not everyone hits it right away. 🙂
lauren51990 AT aol DOT com
I love that your first draft was for NaNoWriMo! I tried my first one last year and found it was fantastic for focussing my writing time. Sadly I didn’t finish but your story breathes more hope into the process! Congratulations on your release and I can’t wait to read Losing Faith! All the best! 🙂
I loved Judy Blume growing up. I was a big reader until high school and then I only read for classes. I can’t wait to read Losing Faith!
dragonzgoil at gmail dot com
I LOVED Judy Blume! If you weren’t going to read a lot, that’s a good author to have 😉
Also WAH publication processes sound terrifyingly complicated! *hides* I’ll just remain unpublished, it’s easier! ^_^
Jessica (Confessions of a Bookaholic) says
It’s so amazing that the first draft was written in 21 days. I always thought that process took months, as I’m sure it does for some.
And I’m excited she is working on another book!
Kai @ Amaterasureads says
I can’t believe Denise was able to write her first draft in 21 days! I’ve been participating in NanoWrimo for 3 years now and its always been a struggle to finish anything in 30 days since I get distracted easily.
And I agree with Denise, YA isn’t simple, in fact its the genre I most love. A lot of YA books are deep, and its always a joy to read them.
Awesome interview, and congratulations on your book, Denise! I’m so excited for it!
Cass (Words on Paper) says
I didn’t read much until this year, 17 years of age. I’m glad I got into it at least now…when I think about what I’d still be missing if I’d not begun reading . . .
Laurie Halse Anderson is good, as is Sarra Manning. I’ll keep these two authors in mind when I read LF. 😛
cc932005 at hotmail dot com
Jemi Fraser says
It’s always great to get insights on authors’ journeys. I love that the draft was created during NaNo – my current story started during NaNo too! 🙂
Natalie Aguirre says
Great interview. I’m so impressed that the first draft was done in such a short time. The whole process-2 years-wasn’t that long.
21 days to finish a first draft! Sounds like my kind of writer! We have something in common!
I would love a copy of this novel! Making it to my TBR list 🙂
Amanda G. says
It amazes me that your book was completed in two years. Talk about focus!!! I think my sister would really enjoy this book. I may have to pick it up for her…
It think it’s awesome the writing came from NaNoWriMo!
Erin MacPherson says
Hi Caroline- This is great and the book looks awesome AND that bag is so so cute! I think the one thing I learned from that interview is that teen/YA fiction isn’t “dumbed down” fiction… it’s real stories with real adult concepts only written a little differently.
I would love to take away that the book is about sisters and a secret about one of them.
Its really surprising to know that the author didn’t read much till her teens. Like her, I love Kane and Abel too.
Stephanie Cheryl says
I love this: “In my opinion, many teens have the time to be more introspective and in some ways deeper than adults.”
Mostly because it is so, so true.
I was surprised she didn’t read much as a teen, I love reading and encourage my children to read too.
I just love how there is no one way to do it. Not being a reader early on didn’t doom her (and she’s rectified that). She followed her heart, and found that exploring teen stories was what it was calling her to do. To each their own (story)! (And I’d love to win!) amy[dot]malskeit[at]gmail[dot]com
K.M. Weiland says
Great interview! I love the play on words in the title. Congrats on your publication. Hope you sell a jillion copies!
Jennie Englund says
Thanks for sharing!
I loved being reminded that publishing is S.L.O.W.
But two years is totally do-able!
Congrats on your sale!
Priya Parmar says
great interview! publishing is so slow! but fun!
I like YA, as well, and read a lot of my children’s books. No, teens do not like being talked down to. Plus, they have hardworking BS meters!
Thank you for the book referral- I will check out Kane and Abel by Jeffrey Archer.
That’s such a great interview… I’m taking away two key things 🙂 The first is that Denise outlined in detail (and got feedback and critique on the outline) before dashing the whole thing out at NaNoWriMo – I’m experiencing a similar, although less organized, process! The second is very interesting and true – teenagers do have more time to be introspective. It’s a very keen observation… and now I think about it – absolutely true.
Valerie Geary says
What a cute bag! And that book sounds good too. I love books about sisters.
A.L. Sonnichsen says
I loved reading about Denise’s journey to publication. Encouraging to know she has practice books on her hard drive — makes me want to keep going, keep trying. 🙂
Thanks for a great interview, Denise and Caroline, and the prizes look/sound amazing!
I definitely agree that the misconception is out there that YA books are simple – and I would add that some people think they’re also childish or not ‘serious’ enough for anyone besides teens to read. It’s so irritating to have this stigma surrounding YA because it’s so not true!
A Tapestry of Words
Lipstick Jungle says
I am so enjoying reading about the process. I had no idea it took so much nor that the story unfolds as you are writing it. Crazy wonderful!!
Growing up I loved to read anything I could get my hands on (and still do) I am so glad that YA authors are writing about real issues that teenagers face. I am interested in reading this book and will put it on my “to do list” Thanks for the interview.
Your interview was fascinating and I enjoyed it very much. I enjoy reading YA books. The stories are sensitive and thought provoking.
Great interview. I really enjoy reading about the publication process authors go though. While you might see similar items, each story and journey is very unique.
I think I will take away from this interview the steps it takes to get a book published. I was amazed at how much editing and time it takes. And I’m very eager to read the book now, too, after hearing a bit about it.
I was surprised to learn what it takes for a book to get from idea to publishing. It’s a much longer process than I imagined. And now I’m eager to read the book!