Marisa Reichardt interviews Amy Spalding

Vector Blank Traffic Sign isolated on whiteAmy Spalding is the talented author of four YA novels, The Reece Malcolm List, Ink Is Thicker Than Water, Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys), and her latest, The New Guy (and Other Senior Year Distractions). Amy joined Sixteen to Read author Marisa Reichardt to talk about her debut experience, getting from Book 1 to Book 4, and how her love of musical theatre helps shapes her stories.

Marisa Reichardt

Marisa Reichardt

Marisa: Hi Amy! Thank you so much for stopping by to chat. Because Sixteen to Read is a group of debut authors, we’d love to know more about the beginning of your writing career. Can you think back to your querying process and tell us what it was like for you? How about your first call from your agent, Kate Testerman?

 

Amy Spalding

Amy Spalding

Amy: I was terrified of the querying process since I had spent about six months leading up to querying researching it. I kept seeing tiny percentages of partials and fulls actually requested, so I figured I was signing myself up for a hopeless venture. I am very delicate and thin-skinned so I was not in any way looking forward to the deluge of rejections I pictured zapping themselves toward me. Then I began the process and, very quickly, received my first rejection, and I realized 1) I was fine, and 2) the process worked! And then, not too many days later, I received a partial request from my top agent pick, Kate Testerman! I couldn’t believe it.

To save time, I won’t go through every detail, but the short version is that I ended up revising my manuscript based on notes from another agent, and it prolonged the process a bit. Luckily it must have gone well, because I was offered representation! I was in shock but my call with Kate went extremely well, and I knew nearly right away she was definitely the agent for me. She was friendly and I assumed we’d get along well, but more importantly she knew the business, had connections, and had smart notes on the manuscript. Sometimes, honestly, I still can’t believe it.

Marisa: Do you have a day job or are you a full-time author?

Amy: I have a day job. I am a big believer in the day job! It has health insurance! And different things work for different people, but for me, it is very important to leave my apartment every day and have to put on clothes that aren’t t-shirts and sweatpants and talk to people who are not my pets. Sometimes I hear people worry aloud that you’re not a “real writer” if you still have a dayjob, but “real writers” come in all varieties.

Marisa: You are involved in improvisational comedy in Los Angeles. Have you found ways that improv has influenced your writing?

Amy: Absolutely! I think improv helps you get better at making decisions and justifying them, because that’s what all improv scenes are. You’re literally making things up and then justifying them with your subsequent moves. I think it makes you more open to changing scenes as you write them, v. how you initially pictured them. I also think improv teaches you to start as late in a scene as possible and to get out on a high note, which hopefully can make you tighten your writing more and learn to self-edit more on the page. I think it teaches you just how creative you can be out of nowhere, which means with writing when you actually have time to think you can bring even MORE to it.

Marisa: Music tends to play a big role in everything you write. Do you have a musical background? Band? Theater?

Amy: I played piano and sang in choir when I was a kid and teen, and play around with the guitar a little. I really wanted to get into musical theater but growing up I felt like, unless you were societal-conventionally BEAUTIFUL or had one of those voices that STOPPED TRAFFIC you might as well never try. And since that wasn’t me I just didn’t. In recent years I’ve really regretted not putting myself out there more, which is something I really discovered doing improv, because I love being on stage. This is one reason I had a one-woman cabaret show last year, to let myself live that dream for one night! So even though this wasn’t exactly my background, I have so much love and enthusiasm for it, I love writing characters who’re living it.

Marisa: Can you share your writing routine? And has it changed over the years as your writing career has developed?

Amy: I’m not sure I really have a routine. Or if I do, it changes day by day, even minute by minute. I’ve outlined, I’ve written as I’ve gone, I’ve ended up with first drafts so messy I have to fix them before even a friend sees them, and I’ve written first drafts that go almost untouched straight to my agent. I write during pieces of free time, and I also write when I’ve carved out chunks of my day specifically for it. I think I expected my process to really get fine-tuned the more books I’ve written, but each book is its own thing, and I sort of have to find my way to each one anew.

Marisa: Does one of your books have a very special place in your author heart? If so, why?

Amy: The Reece Malcolm List was a book that was a part of my life for many years before its publication, because in many ways it was the book that taught me how to write a book. I’m so glad it ended up being my debut novel because I wanted it to have this really special place in my life.

Marisa: Do you have any advice to those going the traditional publishing route?

Amy: Be patient; this business takes forever. (Except when your copy edits are due.) This is a marathon, not a sprint, but since running is HORRIBLE, let’s say it’s a marathon of eating nachos, not a sprint of eating nachos. Don’t worry about how long it’s taking everyone else; focus on your own path. You’ll get there.

Marisa: Your fourth novel just hit shelves. Can you talk about similarities and differences between putting Book 1 out into the world versus Book 4?

 Amy: Putting out Book 4 is way more chill. I recommend it! I still care deeply about this book and about it finding readers, but I’ve done this before! I know I can come out alive! So it’s much easier now in so many ways. But, again, each book is its own thing! So I still have my own very specific wishes and dreams about readers loving Jules and Alex and this story, the way I’ve wanted this for the characters in all of my books. And when I hear from readers, it still means as much each and every single time. It’s like the newness of that refuses to wear off.

Marisa: We’d love to hear more about your newest release THE NEW GUY (AND OTHER SENIOR YEAR DISTRACTIONS). What should our readers know about this next amazing book of yours?

NewGuy jkt des.1.inddAmy: My main character Jules has been described as “a teenage Leslie Knope” and “a nice Paris Geller” which I think tells you what you need to know about her. But also! Cute dogs! A former boyband member! Descriptions of donuts! And of course lots of kissing.

Amazon,   Barnes & NobleIndiebound

 

 

 

Lightning Round Questions:

 

  1. Your favorite time to write?  WHENEVER I CAN! When it’s flowing easily, that is my favorite time.
  2. Favorite place to write?  WHEREVER I CAN! (Sense a theme?) I write a lot on my couch but I’m also in favor of coffeeshops and lunchbreaks at my desk.
  3. Favorite writing snack?  I can’t really snack while I write so I’m usually drinking water or chai.
  4. Last book you read?  Robin Talley’s wonderful What We Left Behind.
  5. Favorite book?  BOOK? SINGULAR???? Fun Home, Middlesex, A Summer to Die, A Little Life, Borrowed Time, Tell the Wolves I’m Home, The Secret History, Wild, the Betsy-Tacy series, When You Reach Me.
  6. If you could live in a fictional world, what world would it be?  Well, not the Hunger Games world because I’d get killed immediately trying to snag a Diet Coke at the Cornucopia.
  7. If you could be a character from a book for a day, who would you be?  Lola from Lola & the Boy Next Door if only just for the outfits and wigs!!

Thank you so much for stopping by, Amy! It was great to get your perspective! Be sure to look for Amy’s latest book, The New Guy (and Other Senior Year Distractions), available wherever books are sold!

NewGuy jkt des.1.indd

 

UNDERWATER Makes Her Debut in the UK

We are thrilled to announce the release day of Underwater by the ridiculously talented Marisa Reichardt. Lucky UK residents get this gorgeous, sparkly book decorating their bookstores today.

  1. Breathe
  2. You are okay
  3. You are not dying
  4. YOU NEED THIS BOOK (okay, that’s not on the jacket, but still)

Feast your eyes on this beauty and tell all your friends across the pond!

UW

Happy Book Birthday: UNDERWATER

UW bdayUnderwater, a heartfelt and hopeful novel by our very own Marisa Reichardt, releases into the wild today.

Kirkus called UNDERWATER “A moving, reflective exploration of grief, trauma, and how individuals find their paths toward resilience.”

More love for UNDERWATER:

  • A winter/spring 2016 Indies Introduce New Voices pick
  • A winter 2015/16 Indie Next Top 10 pick
  • Publishers Weekly starred review
  • A winter 2015 Unputdownable YA pick from Bookish
  • A 17 Most Anticipated Novels Publishing in January pick from Epic Reads

We couldn’t be happier for Marisa and her MC, Morgan! UNDERWATER is available NOW, wherever books are sold.

 

UNDERWATER is an Indies Introduce Title

Indies IntroduceEvery year, a panel of independent bookstore booksellers representing the American Booksellers Association reads hundreds and hundreds of debut ARCs. After much deliberation, they choose ten standout debut MG/YA titles to feature as part of their Indies Introduce New Voices list. This year, our very own Marisa Reichardt made the ABA Winter/Spring 2016 list with her YA contemporary debut, UNDERWATER.

underwater cover hi-resBooks that receive this honor are featured at ABA’s Fall Regional Trade Shows and Winter Institute. They are also highlighted in special displays at independent bookstores across the nation.

Congratulations to Marisa on this wonderful accomplishment. We can’t wait for the world to meet Morgan Grant in UNDERWATER, debuting from Macmillan/FSG on January 12, 2016 and Macmillan Children’s UK on April 7, 2016.

About the book:

Morgan didn’t mean to do anything wrong that day. Actually, she meant to do something right. But her kind act inadvertently played a role in a deadly tragedy. In order to move on, Morgan must learn to forgive—first someone who did something that might be unforgivable, and then, herself.

But Morgan can’t move on. She can’t even move beyond the front door of the apartment she shares with her mother and little brother. Morgan feels like she’s underwater, unable to surface. Unable to see her friends. Unable to go to school.

When it seems Morgan can’t hold her breath any longer, a new boy moves in next door. Evan reminds her of the salty ocean air and the rush she used to get from swimming. He might be just what she needs to help her reconnect with the world outside.

Underwater is a powerful, hopeful debut novel about redemption, recovery, and finding the strength it takes to face your past and move on.

Read the full article.

Pre-order a copy of UNDERWATER wherever books are sold.

Add UNDERWATER to your Goodreads TBR list.

 

We Have a Winner!

DSCN5600Congratulations to Erica M. from Hawaii for winning this month’s giveaway of RED QUEEN! We’re also thrilled to send her a super cool pair of silver earrings that match Victoria Aveyard’s awesome debut cover.

And serendipity abounds because Erica happens to be from the same town in Hawaii as the very swoon-worthy book boyfriend Evan. Oh, readers! Just wait until you meet new-to-town surfer boy Evan from Marisa Reichardt’s UNDERWATER. Let the swooning commence!

Enjoy this great book, Erica! Thanks so much for supporting Sixteen to Read!

UNDERWATER is a Top Pick!

The very phenomenal Jen–a book blogger at Pop! Goes The Reader!–keeps spreading the Sixteen to Read love. This week’s “Top Ten Tuesday” post (a wonderful book feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish), highlighted the top ten books Jen has recently acquired. Her lovely list of ARCs would make any book lover drool. Just look at all the awesome she’s got her hands on!

underwater cover hi-resOur very own Marisa Reichardt received a special shout out from Jen: “Of the ten books listed thus far, I have only read one—Underwater by Marisa Reichardt—and if you haven’t already done so, add it to your 2016 to-be-read list. Add it right now. I have absolutely no doubt Underwater will prove one of the best standalone contemporary releases next year and I can’t wait for everyone else to fall head over heels in love with it just like I did.”

ADD IT RIGHT NOW!” We agree, Jen! Because a couple of us Sixteen to Read girls have read this crazy good book and we know you’ll love it as well. Happy Reading!

 

UNDERWATER Cover Reveal

Marisa Reichardt

Marisa Reichardt

I’m so thrilled to share the cover for my contemporary YA novel, UNDERWATER (Macmillan/FSG 1/12/16). I think one of the best emails I ever opened was the one with my cover. I got goosebumps and lost my breath, then instantly shoved my laptop into my husband’s face so he could gush over it as well. It was an amazing moment to see how perfectly the cover designer, Andrew Arnold, captured the essence of the book. Above all else, I like that the cover retains the same sense of hope that UNDERWATER does. underwater cover hi-res

Publication date: 1/12/16
Publisher: FSG/Macmillan
Genre: YA contemporary
UNDERWATER

 

Morgan didn’t mean to do anything wrong that day. Actually, she meant to do something right. But her kind act inadvertently played a role in a deadly tragedy. In order to move on, Morgan must learn to forgive—first someone who did something that might be unforgivable, and then, herself.

But Morgan can’t move on. She can’t even move beyond the front door of the apartment she shares with her mother and little brother. Morgan feels like she’s underwater, unable to surface. Unable to see her friends. Unable to go to school.

When it seems Morgan can’t hold her breath any longer, a new boy moves in next door. Evan reminds her of the salty ocean air and the rush she used to get from swimming. He might be just what she needs to help her reconnect with the world outside.

Underwater is a powerful, hopeful debut novel about redemption, recovery, and finding the strength it takes to face your past and move on.

underwater cover hi-res

Find out more about Marisa Reichardt by following her on Twitter or Instagram.

#VeryRealisticYA

There’s realistic YA and then there’s very realistic YA. This past week Twitter has entertained us with a popular new hashtag. Here are some Sixteen To Read authors’ favorite #VeryRealisticYA plots:

Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

@laurellizabeth: Girl and boy lock eyes. Boy quirks eyebrow at girl. Girl thinks he’s a creep and makes a point of never talking to him. #VeryRealisticYA

@laurellizabeth: Girl meets boy. Boy adds girl to Facebook. They send tons of messages online but never get the nerve to go on a real date. #VeryRealisticYA

Jennifer Bardsley

Jennifer Bardsley

@JennBardsley: Girl wants to break up with her boyfriend but doesn’t want to hurt his feelings. Relationship drags on and on and on. #VeryRealisticYA

@JennBardsley: Girl is glued to her phone. Even texts in the bathroom. Mom takes phone away. Drama ensues. #VeryRealisticYA

Jennifer DiGiovanni

Jennifer DiGiovanni

@jendwrites: Girl picks fun-loving teen wolf with motorcycle over moody piano-playing vampire. #VeryRealisticYA

@jendwrites: You don’t feel guilty eating that super-sized hot fudge sundae because you’ll work off the calories at track practice. #VeryRealisticYA

 

Ashley Herring Blake

Ashley Herring Blake

@ashleyhblake: Girl finally kisses the BOY OF HER DREAMS. He sucks at kissing. #VeryRealisticYA

@ashleyhblake: Teen has years-long crush on her best friend. They never get together. #VeryRealisticYA

Marisa Reichardt

Marisa Reichardt

@youngadultish: Guy who was a jerk in 6th grade is still a jerk in 12th grade. #VeryRealisticYA

@youngadultish: Girl awakens thinking she’s being visited by The Grim Reaper. Turns out it’s just her graduation gown hanging from her door. #VeryRealisticYA

  Shannon M. Parker

Shannon M. Parker

@shannonmparkerTeen girl communicates only with grunts and shrugs. Doesn’t give a shit about rebellion VeryRealisticYA

Catherine Lo

Catherine Lo

@CatherineELoGirl likes boy. Girl asks friend to ask boy if he likes her back. Boy and friend are dating by end of day. #VeryRealisticYA

 

J. Keller Ford

J. Keller Ford

@jkellerford: Nerdy girl has crush on popular football player. Kisses pictures of him and tapes them to his locker for all to see. #VeryRealisticYA