Monday, April 6, 2015

Interview with Amanda Jasper - 'Become an Agent' WINNER!

Woot woot woot! 'Become an Agent' just ended and it was very, very fun. I'm constantly impressed and astounded by the writing community, and this Querypalooza made me even more grateful to have such a community. 

There was one special entry that got the most 'Yes' votes on its first round: Entry 6 by Amanda Jasper!!!! Make sure you read it, because it really sounds like an amazing book.

NOW, INTERVIEW TIME! Here's........Amanda!

1. Fun facts about you: name three!

1. Like Rumilla I’m a huge crafter. I knit and crochet, but I don’t actually spin yarn. Or (sadly) turn it into gold.
2. I really love wizards and have gotten into heated discussions with people about my love of wizards. Once I designed a fake book cover called ‘You guys, Wizards are totally real’.
3. I have a huge collection of dresses, and unless I’m running, I never wear pants. My friends say I’m pretty whimsical.
2. Tell us about your writing/publication experience. How did the drafting go? How do you cope in the querying process?
The first draft of this book just poured out of me. I wrote 75k words in 5 weeks in October of 2013. Then I tackled a big revision on an earlier book, so I put SSG aside. Then I got married, so for a few months (March-May) I wasn’t doing much writing or critiquing at all. I finally tackled revisions from June 2014 - January 2015.

This is my third completed book, but the second I am querying. The first one took almost two years to write a first draft and clocked in at 150k words. So I put it aside because it felt like too huge an undertaking to revise. After that experience I worked really hard on maintaining manageable word counts on my projects.
I find querying challenging, but I think we all do on some level. But it’s the only way to move forward, so onward I go.
3. What/Who keeps you going on this quest for publication, especially if you feel like giving up some times?
Honestly, I feel really lucky because I have so many people in my life who are supportive of me. First, my husband who encouraged me to write again after a 10 year battle with writers block. My sister who reads all my books, and pretends to love them. And I have two amazing critique partners who mean the world to me. My friends and coworkers are all behind me too, which is a relief because some days are harder than others so it helps to have a support network. Also I live in Seattle and they sell craft beer at gas stations… (can I say that? is that ok for a YA writer to say? Don’t drink underage kids! but when you do grow up only drink decent beer.)
4. What is your favorite book? Genre? Author? Also, what writer would you most love to be compared to?
This is like picking between hundreds of my own children. I’m a huge reader and I just love books so much. But my favorites are probably (this is really hard!) House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski, A Door into Ocean by Joan Slonczewski, the ‘Wheel of Time’ series by Robert Jordan, and Ruins of Ambrai by Melanie Rawn. Those are the books I go back to the most.
My two favorite writers are Ursula K. LeGuin and Joan Slonczewki, they’ve both had such a huge influence on me, they’re my heroes!
In terms of genre, I love Sci-fi and fantasy in any age category. I’m a huge YA reader, and I think YA is amazing as well, especially some of the sci-fi/fantasy stuff that is out now. Honestly, if anyone reading this wants book recommendations, or to talk about books message me, or friend me on Goodreads. :)

5. What are your long-term and short-term goals, writing-wise?
When I first started, my goal was to get published, but in the years since, I've change my focus. Now my goals, long and short term are focused on craft. I have a BFA in Design which really taught me about process and focus, and I’m always trying to apply that to my writing. I’d like to craft deeper characters and learn how to build big and immersive worlds, places that feel real.
My other long term goal is to not stop. I had writers block for ten years and even though I loved my life during those years, I really felt like something was missing. So every day when I sit down to write I feel like I’ve won.

6. How was your experience in Become an Agent? What part of the contest did you find the best, and what part did you find the hardest? Anything to tell the other entrants?
I entered Become an Agent because I honestly thought my husband would divorce me if I made him read draft 300 of my query. I was in need of fresh eyes on my query, and to figure out the weak spots. I’m obsessed with feedback, and I love hearing what absolutely isn’t working. I had four years of incredibly tough critiques when I was in art school, which taught me how to separate myself from criticism of my work. The best part of this contest was all the feedback, especially from people not in the contest, I’m so grateful that they came here and gave their time to critique. The hardest part was saying no to the other amazing entries. There were so many good queries and first pages in this contest, I wanted to read basically everything.

7. What would be a dream review for any of your books? Meaning, what would you LOVE for someone to say about your writing/stories?
The only thing I really want is for someone to say that my book is their favorite book. If I could reach one person with my writing that would be enough for me. Books have had such a huge huge huge impact on my life and I want my stories to live on in the same way. So if even one person (who isn’t my friend Gwyn) reads my book and loves it, I’ll be happy.

 Amanda Jasper has been telling stories since she was old enough to speak. She holds a BFA in Graphic Design from the Fashion Institute of Technology. Amanda currently works as a designer for university, creating ads, web pages and billboards. She lives in Seattle WA, with her husband, one normal sized cat and one extra huge cat. In her spare time Amanda enjoys obsessing over TV shows, playing video games, and forcing everyone around her to read her favorite YA novels.

Please please please, congratulate her on Twitter  and take a look at her Tumblr! CONGRATS AMANDA!!! Can't wait to see what you do.

AND A MESSAGE TO EVERYONE: If you get a success story because of 'Become an Agent', no matter what that success is or how late it comes, I want to hear about it! *glares at everyone* I'm expecting emails.

Congrats again Amanda!

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