Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Q&A with Author Lara Chapman, The XYZs of Being Wicked

I'm so excited to have young adult/middle grade author Lara Chapman on my blog today. She's the acclaimed author of Flawless, a  young adult book that was both a RITA finalist and a 2012 International Reading Association Young Adult Choice.



With her most recent book, Lara Chapman joins the Aladdin M!x family. I'm so excited to read her book, The XYZs of Being Wicked. Here's the awesome cover.



She agreed to answer some questions about her writing process

Q: Tell us a little about the plot of your new book, The XYZs of Being Wicked.



A: I know every author says this, but I love this book! The protagonist is so much fun and I fully relate to her even though middle school is way behind me.  Existing on the social outskirts since her falling out with her best friend, Hallie goes to The Dowling School of Witchcraft to maintain her family’s heritage.  She’s actually excited about going somewhere new, somewhere away from her ex-BFF, Kendall.  But all that changes when she finds out her ex-BFF is also her roommate.  Hallie has to find a way to discover her gift, and stay as far away from Kendall as possible.  Hallie and her trio of friends, along with their hilariously un-witchlike dorm mother, help each other find the gifts they were born with and how to navigate the not-so-unfamiliar social gauntlet of middle school.

Q: Your first published book, Flawless, was a RITA finalist and an International Reading Association Young Adult Choice. What differences did you notice in going from writing for teens to writing for a middle grade readership?

A: The word count!  I used to struggle with word count, pushing myself to reach the magical 80,000 word manuscript.  Know what’s harder than writing an 80,000 word manuscript? A 40,000 word manuscript.  It is hard to write a complete story so compactly.  Neither one of my middle grade books (The XYZs of Being Wicked and its sequel, Accidentally Evil) were under 40,000.  Not even close.

I also found myself slipping the characters into more YA situations and with more YA voices.  I had to check myself over and over.  Luckily, I taught 5th grade for years and years, so it’s not such a chore to make the characters authentic.

Q: What has your experience as a published author been like so far? Did anything surprise you about the publishing process?

A:  Everything surprises me about the publishing process!  It takes longer than I thought it would and there’s a substantial learning curve in terms of marketing your book.  I didn’t realize it’d be so complicated.  I went into my first contract with the assumption my book would be in every Barnes and Noble on a “New Releases” table.  Sounds ridiculous now!

Q: What is your writing process like? Do you plan your stories out before you write them?

A:  I plan.  Obsessively.  In fact, I probably plan too much (I know I spend a lot of time on it!).  I begin with the plot points, break it into four zones and then chapters and then scenes.  I need to know what I’m writing when I sit down with the laptop.  I learned early-on that I am not an effective pantster.

Q: Do you have a favorite writing spot?

A: Barnes and Noble (or anywhere my critique partners are)!  I really need to be out of the house to write seriously.  Too many distractions for my ADD/OCD brain!

Q: What are you working on now?

A: I currently have a YA novel on submission that’s a genuine heart wrenching romance.  Fingers crossed on that one! I’m currently working on a YA that’s very different from my current books.  It’s darker, snarkier, and deeper.  And I’m loving it!   It’s not under contract, but I hope it will be some day soon!


About Lara Chapman



Lesser Known Trivia (a/k/a things about me that are way more interesting than my life story):

-- I turned down a college scholarship in vocal performance for all the wrong reasons.
-- I've had the same best friends for over 30 years.
-- I'm OCD and ADD. Think about it. It's the most frustrating combination of disorders ever.
-- I'm a total organizing freak (see above).
-- I write best on a deadline. Too much time makes me lazy.
-- My high school English students call me Mom.
-- Both of my amazing kids are adopted.
-- I have an obsession with dachshunds.
-- I was accepted to law school but withdrew before my first class when my mom was diagnosed with ALS.
-- I almost always have the Food Network on TV.
-- I've broken my big toe twice: once crossing the Frio River and once from dropping a can of hairspray on it.
-- I've seen the movie "Grease" over a hundred times and will stop everything to watch it when it's on TV.
-- My son once told me was going to take me back to the Mommy Store because I made him wear his seat belt.
-- When she was a toddler, my daughter hid our phone in the freezer; it took me two weeks to find it.
-- I've worked for a Private Investigator. I could tell some stories about that job!

54 comments:

  1. Dropping a can of hairspray on your toe hard enough to break it must really hurt.
    I'm an over planner as well, but I couldn't write outside the home - that would be too distracting for me.
    Congratulations on the book, Lara!

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  2. congrats to Lara on her books

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  3. Never thought of line counts for books, that was interesting to read! Wishing Lara success on her book!

    betty

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  4. what an interesting woman with a variety of experiences in her life! continued success to her!

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  5. Yikes her mom had ALS? So did my mom. What a horrible way to die.

    I loved the lesser known trivia the very best.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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  6. I'm getting hooked on these YA books. I plan to read
    Flawless and the XYZs of Being Wicked. They look great! So many books, so little time...

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  7. Oh my goodness, writing that lean, I KNOW! I've dabbled with MG, and it was the word count that killed me. You really do have to build a TIGHT plan if you're going to make a story happen that quickly.

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  8. I plan an outline but that's about it, mine always changes anyway. Hiding the phone in the freezer, haha! I need to do that some time so I can ignore people. ;)

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  9. Ouch to the toe. Ocd and add, damn that has to be hell lol congrats!

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  10. Nice interview, Ladies. Lara-- ouch! for breaking your toe! Your book sounds amazing, good Luck! Hi, Stephanie.

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  11. I always love hearing about an author's writing process so I am so glad you shared this with us! I think I just might have this in my TBR pile somewhere. I should check it out.

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  12. Hi Stephanie,

    What a Flawless interview with Lara.

    I can certainly relate to having to get out of the house to even attempt at writing something, anything. If it isn't my son aggravating me, it's time to take a famous Jack Russell dog for a walk.

    All the very best with your new book, Lara. Congrats :)

    Gary

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  13. I love the cover! AND it sosunds like a great story!

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  14. I love the cover for The XYZs of Being Wicked (and that title too)! I imagine it would be harder writing a shorter story because you don't have as much time. And I can't believe you broke your big toe twice! Wishing you much success with your new release!

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  15. "I'm OCD and ADD." - That sounds like an interesting and fascinating combination.

    Grats on the book! It's a fun cover. :)

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  16. Thank you for all your great comments!

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  17. Congratulations on the book. And my mind is travelling down the minefield of adolescence and the power that witchcraft brings - in horror. Such a difficult time...

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  18. AND YES.. ALS is the absolute worst way to die, I believe. I do as much work with ALS groups as possible. We HAVE to find a cure!

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  19. LOL - I understand! I have an 8th grader and 9th grader in my home. No thank you.

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  20. As for the ADD/OCD combo, it's awful! Hell, as Pat said (btw, if Pat Hatt isn't your real name, it needs to be... best name ever!). I would only guess that I am both interesting and fascinating to others... when I'm not derailing, of course! :-)

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  21. Great interview! I love it when writers speak about their craft

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  22. Taking you back to the Mommy store made me laugh:) My hubby has severe ADHD and he has some OCD too. it's what makes him unique! Your story sounds great and it is so sad that talented people don't have their books at Barnes and Noble but people like Paris Hilton(ughh) do

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  23. This is the stuff I crave! I always want to know everyone's back story. The tidbits at the end were great, Stephanie.

    Well done; another book on the list.
    Cherdo
    www.cherdoontheflipside.com

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  24. I agree, writing a shorter book is harder than a longer book. Great interview.

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  25. I'm an over-planner and under-achiever! Congrats on the book!

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  26. Cute covers and it's a nice little interview

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  27. I need to channel Lara for a bit...maybe with a bit of OCD ADD, I might get some stuff done. But then I'd want to give it back, I doubt she relaxes very often.

    Totally agree on the smaller books being harder to write for the exact reason she mentioned...you cannot waste a single word. It's like tweeting in a novel!

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  28. Belated congrats on the Rita Finals. And my first finished novel was a 75K word MG fantasy. It is much harder to write shorter stuff. I obviously failed at that, which is why I've moved on to adult books. :P

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  29. Excellent.
    And the plot sounds like a great subject for the age group.

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  30. Working for a private investigator certainly sounds fascinating! Those lesser known trivia bits were fabulous.

    Wonderful to hear from Lara. What a great cover on her newest book (and Flawless has a beautiful cover too).

    I am glad she has her 5th grade teaching to help her with the MG voice (I was a 5th grade teacher for 15 years and it definitely helps me in that area). :)

    Best of luck to Lara. I look forward to reading this one.

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  31. Great interview, nice learning things about authors.

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  32. Congratulations, Lara!! It's a great concept. I can't imagine trying to write a story in 40,000 words - that's something I've always admired about MG authors!

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  33. Sounds like an interesting book. I'll have to tell my niece about it.

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  34. I agree w/Alex about the hairspray- ow! Just the thought is making my toes curl in sympathy. Sounds like Lara has some great books out and some great ones under construction!

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  35. Oh I would think it would be harder to write shorter as well. Have heard that from a lot who write novellas.

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  36. Great interview, Stephanie. Her books sound like they're a lot of fun!

    They always give you guys such cute covers.

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  37. I love the list of things about you... I have watch Grease probably 50 times.. love that movie...

    Good luck with the book :)

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  38. I have to say I'm a HUGE Grease fan, too. It was my everything when I was a kid!

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  39. OMYGOODNESS...this is an awesome post. I read every single word of it and loved it all.
    Good luck with your new book, Lara..
    and thanks, Stephanie, for this great post.
    xo bj

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  40. Wow! She seems like a character. A can of hairspray and a broken toe. Ouch! I wish I was organized but I think I'm hopeless. Best of luck!

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  41. Great interview, Stephanie. The XYZs of Being Wicked sounds great.

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  42. Fun interview! Congrats to Laura on her new book :)

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  43. Great interview, The XYZ's of Being Wicked sounds really good :)

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  44. She hid the phone in the freezer - brilliant. Brings a whole new meaning to cold calling (too easy...).

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  45. A heart wrenching romance sounds exciting. Hope someone snatches that up.

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  46. It definitely sounds like you've got the "planning" thing down. I plan, but not to the extent you do!

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  47. I've got the planner's bug myself.

    Fun interview indeed. Congrats to Laura!!

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  48. I should probably leave the house to write. I also find I'm SO distracted in the house.

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  49. Great interview, I could never be a pantster..I am too anal..LOL

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  50. Congratulations to Lara and good luck! It was a fun interview.

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  51. Fun interview Lara and Stephanie. It is great to hear an author almost apologize for the amount of planning that goes into a work. I very much respect those who invest load of time in planning knowing that the final product will be that much better.

    And, I am sure Lara could retell a few stories of interest (with the names and places changed of course) in working for a PI.

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  52. What a great interview, Stephanie. Based on her experiences, Lara sounds like such an interesting person and author! I'm sure her book will be a huge success!

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