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Sunday, September 26, 2010

YA Author Interview: Trish Doller

Trish Doller

Link to Awesomeness: Trish's Blog

CS: Welcome to Musings of a writer-in-progress. Thanks for agreeing to do this interview with me.Tell us about The New Normal. How was your story birthed? What was your motivation?

TrishDoller: I was a staff writer for a newspaper when I was assigned to interview a young Marine who had just come home from Iraq after the first invasion wave back in 2003. When I met him, it struck me that he was only nineteen years old and had experienced things his hometown friends could only imagine. The impression stayed with me, but I never did anything with it until about a year ago when I started thinking about a girl character who'd branded a slut back in middle school by a boy who lied. Travis--the main character of THE NEW NORMAL--was meant to be that boy, but as I started writing I realized the story belonged to him and that perhaps she was an island of "normal" in his struggle with death, post-traumatic stress disorder, outgrown friendships, and a disintegrating family.

CS:What do you hope for your readers to take away from The New Normal?

Trish Doller: I guess I'd like readers to understand that war affects the warrior in a lot of different ways. It changes him--for better or worse--as well as the way he relates to his family and friends. From so far away, it's easy to forget about the fact that it's being fought by individuals who deserve our support while they're serving, our respect when they return, and whatever care they need to heal the damage they've suffered, be it physical or emotional or both. (This also applies to those who serve, but never deploy. It doesn't mean their jobs are less valuable. They're all doing something the rest of us don't want to do.)

CS: Looking back over your writing career, is there anything you would have done differently? What lessons have you learned on your journey?

Trish Doller: I'm not sure I'd have done anything differently. I've made some mistakes along the way and suffered a major setback when my first book was cancelled by the publisher, but if that book had been published, I might not have written THE NEW NORMAL, and I can't imagine that! If anything, I might wish I'd started writing seriously a little earlier in my life because I have so many ideas I want to get down on paper.

CS: What part of writing is easiest for you? And the hardest?

Trish Doller: Dialogue is very easy for me because I can hear my characters talking to each other in my head. I wish I could just write a novel in nothing but dialogue! The hardest is plotting. A lot of times I start with a character and I have a general idea of what happens, but I don't always know exactly how it all plays out. And I'm so bad at outlining!

CS: What advice would you give aspiring authors about getting into the game? What do you know now that you wish you knew back when you started in the business?

Trish Doller: I wish I had something more profound to say, but my best advice is to never give up. After my first book, it would have been so easy to throw in the towel, but I persisted and it paid off. So don't quit!

CS: What was the wisest thing about writing that was ever said to you?

Trish Doller: Actually I have two wisest things. First, when I'd polished and revised my first book to what I thought was its glossiest shine, I emailed YA author Maureen Johnson (who didn't know me from Adam) and asked her how you know when your manuscript is ready to be sent out into the world. She told me that you have to trust your internal meter and "you just have to jump off the end of the diving board at some point". I jumped and you know what? I landed her agent with that first manuscript.
The other was after that first book died in the publishing pipeline. I was really down about it and mystery writer Randy Wayne White (who shops at the bookstore where I work) told me that if my writing was good enough to sell once, it was good enough to sell again. I tried not to forget that... and he was right.

CS: What is your next project? Can you tell us anything about it?

Trish Doller: Well, first I need to finish THE NEW NORMAL (we sold it on a partial submission) and I suspect I'll spend a good part of next year revising. But the next thing I've got floating around in my head is the story of three boys, friends since kindergarten, who want to have one last epic weekend before they step out into the "real world". Except their last weekend doesn't go quite as planned and puts their friendship to the test. It's tentatively (and oh, so imaginatively) titled THE LAST WEEKEND.

CS: Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. Good luck with The New Normal.


Rachna Chhabria said...

Thanks for the wonderful interview. Its nice to read about other writer's journeys. It inspires us in many ways.

And thanks for dropping by my blog and leaving a comment on the Elements of a Story post.

AlexOngNYC said...

Thank you for this interview!


MT said...

It's interesting to hear she sold it on a partial submit. I've been told that rarely happens. It must be a great story!

Jena said...

Thank you for the comment, no I haven't read SPEAK yet, I would like to though!

And awesome interview!

Anonymous said...

Really enjoyed this interview - thanks, Trish and Cinette! THE NEW NORMAL sounds like a compelling read. (And Trish, I'm always happy to receive "don't quit" advice -- I'll take all the encouragement I can get, lol!)