Who’s Your Author Crush?
The blog tour for Author Katie Williams’ YA novel The Space Between Trees, wraps up with a chat between the author and Editor Julie Romeis about the collaborative process, developing a title and cover, and secret author crushes. See the other tour dates here.
Leave a comments with your author crush by Friday August 6th at noon Pacific for a chance to win an autographed copy of The Space Between Trees.
Katie: What do you look for in a YA manuscript? If I may be so bold, what stood out about The Space Between Trees?
Julie: Above all, it’s about finding a story I can’t put down, written in an authentic voice, about a character I can’t forget. As for your book, in addition to the compelling plot, I was captivated by the honest and lyrical writing. One of my favorites is when Evie gushes about Jonah: “I look at him all over—the shadow on his jaw, the curl of his nostril, and the underbrush of his eyebrow. I think, He is assembled so correctly.” —with lines like that, how could I resist?
Julie: What was the most difficult part of the writing and revision process?
Katie: Sometimes I feel that I’m more a critic and editor than I am a writer, and that I write by turning these skills on my own work. I enjoy the entire editing/revision process more than the initial composition process. It’s especially invigorating to have a good reader who is willing to figure out the evolving story with me. Someone like, oh, say, you.
Katie: How do you see your role as an editor? What was it like working with me? (I was a total diva, wasn’t I?)
Julie: The job of the editor is two-fold. First is to help the author make their book the best it can be, and second is to be an advocate for the book from day one and keep up that passion all the way through the process. An excited editor can get everyone else excited too.
As for our experience, boy you’d give Beyonce a run for her money, Katie. (just kidding!) Seriously, this was one of the most fun books I’ve worked on in a long time, and not just because we’re both here in San Francisco and got to talk over macaroons regularly.
Julie: Speaking of the ending, why did you decide to finish the book the way you did?
Katie: One of the intentions of the novel is to explore both the power and the danger of the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves. Hadley and Evie are telling themselves a story: That they’re detectives, that this is a mystery, that they’ll track down the killer and wreak vengeance upon him. But life isn’t a story, or at least not a tidy one, and so this “mystery” could never have ended like a typical mystery novel. The truths the girls discover aren’t so much about the murder as they are about themselves.
Julie: Enough of these serious questions. Let’s get to the important stuff. Who do you have an author crush on?
Katie: I’m smitten by Kristen Cashore, author of Graceling and Fire, because she’s using the fantasy genre to explore pretty complicated things about gender and sexuality. Also, Ursula K. Le Guin who is masterful at blending her fantasy with everyday detail, which allows the reader to truly enter the magical world. Total schoolgirl crush on both of these wonderful women!
Katie: I spilled, now you: Who are your author crushes?
Julie: Marcus Zusak, hands down. The Book Thief is one of the most poignant and beautifully written books I’ve ever encountered. Plus, he is really nice too! And I love the way Shannon Hale writes wonderful romances with incredibly strong and resilient heroines. No fainting wimps in her stories.
Katie: And we have to talk about the cover because it’s gorgeous and unique. Can you talk about the process of creating a cover, from idea to book on the shelf?
Julie: Creating the right cover is one of the most fun and also daunting parts of the process. The initial inspiration for this book came from a journal that used laser-cutting to create an intricate floral design. I knew I wanted to do something similar for a YA novel if I ever had the chance. Once we decided on the title of The Space Between Trees, I realized it would be the perfect book for that technique! It took some experimentation by our amazing designers to get it right, but in the end we couldn’t be more thrilled with this one-of-a-kind book!
Katie: Readers may not know that it wasn’t me but the Chronicle editing team that came up with the title. How did that happen?
Julie: I can’t take credit either! Though you and your agent both loved the original title, Wildlife Control, we were worried that it wouldn’t make sense to the audience. One of my editorial colleagues, Melissa Manlove, suggested The Space Between Trees in reference to this line: “But somehow, my name was never whispered, as if I were a ghost, an escapee, the space between the trees, the page on which a story is written.”
Julie: In addition to this novel, you have also written amazing short stories for adults, including one published in The Atlantic. Can you talk about writing for teens versus adults?
Katie: When I’m writing, I’m not consciously thinking about the age of my audience; I’m just thinking about the story. It happens that my characters are often teenagers, so it’s natural to match those stories with a YA readership; however, I believe my writing can be enjoyed by both teenagers and adults. Then again, I’m someone who read YA and adult books in equal measure when I was a kid, and I read them in equal measure now.
Julie: And finally, would you like to share what are you working on now?
Katie: A new novel: The story of a group of ghost kids trapped in the high school they attended when they were alive.
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