Kara is 22 years old and represented by Suzie Townsend of Nancy Coffey Literary. She lives and writes on Long Island, where she splits her time between her Chihuahua, cupcake decorating, and graduate school. She's a certified English teacher, but she's still trying to figure out what she wants to be when she grows up. PREP SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL is about a Queen Bee/accidental arsonist and a murder mystery at a creepy Boston boarding school.
1. How long have you been writing?
I've always loved storytelling. In high school, I wrote skits for the theater productions, and I even starred as Pee-Wee Hermann in one of them (thank God there are no surviving pictures. That I know of). It wasn't until my freshman year of college, though, that I was serious enough about a story to write a full novel. I was away in Boston at a school I hated, in a major I hated, and the only way I could deal with my last semester there was through writing.
2. Do you have a typical "writer routine" you stick to (or try to stick to?)
Now that I'm done with my undergraduate degree, I'm lucky enough that I have the time to write every day. So I definitely try to stick to that. It's hard to tune out things like social media and buckle down, but I've pretty much accepted that they've become part of my writing routine. So my typical morning looks like this: 1. Get up. 2. Make coffee and eat breakfast. 3. Check email, Facebook, Twitter, forums. 4. Get more coffee. 5. Repeat step 3. 6. Write.
3. What made you decide to go the agent route with your writing, and was it a hard journey getting there?
Years and years ago, my mother gave me a copy of Janet Evanovich's HOW I WRITE as a gift. It was the best thing that happened to my writing career, honestly, because that's where I got the idea that I needed an agent. I never even considered trying to get my work into an editor's hands on my own. I spent six months querying my first novel, which I eventually trunked. I'm thankful that thing never saw the light of day, because the next book I wrote eventually got me my agent after I did a round of revisions for her. Querying felt like running on a hamster wheel, and there were times I was THISCLOSE to giving up. Yes, luck and timing are a part of querying, but as writers, we have much more control than we think. I made the decision to abandon a book that wasn't going anywhere and write a new one, and I couldn't be happier with how things worked out because of that.
4. What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about or currently querying?
Send queries out in small batches so you leave yourself plenty of options if you need to revise your manuscript. Querying isn't a race; you're going to have to wait for responses, sometimes even for months, so take your time getting your book into the best shape it can possibly be in. And above all, don't compare yourself to other people. It's tempting to log onto forums and see what other queriers are going through, but you'll only drive yourself nuts. "Why did this person get a full request when I only got a partial request?" can easily turn into "Why did this person get five agent offers and I only got one?" It's a slippery slope. Don't do that to yourself.
5. Are there any authors or books who influence your writing?
Janet Evanovich's sense of humor has always been closely aligned with mine, so sometimes I see her in my writing. If I had to describe my style, I'd say Janet Evanovich meets Stephanie Perkins, if that makes absolutely any sense at all.
6. PREP SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL is your YA novel that comes out from St. Martin's in 2013. What is the best part of your publishing experience with your first book so far?
Working with an editor, or in my case, two editors, is really all I could have hoped for and more. I feel incredibly lucky to have an agent and two editors who believe in my writing and always offer encouragement when I need it. Because trust me, I have lots of neurotic-whiny-diva writer moments.
7. Do you believe writers need to write everyday to get better at their talent?
Absolutely not! I think taking breaks is one of the most beneficial things a writer can do. Don't tell anyone, but I didn't write for a few months when I was on submission. I needed a break to explore other things, dedicate time to school, etc...and when I jumped back into writing, I had a fresher perspective. It was like discovering how much I enjoyed writing all over again.
8. What advice would you want to give aspiring writers?
Go at your own pace. Roll with the punches. Expect disappointment, but accept that anything can happen at any time, provided you put the best work out there you possibly can.