Today as part of the YA Shot Blog tour I am very happy to welcome back author Taran Matharu, author of the fantastic debut The Novice (and it's prequel Origins) just click on the links to read our reviews. This time around we talk about the creation of The Novice, finding a Literary agent and working for a Publisher...So let's go...
I started writing when I was 9 years old. It was a high fantasy called Wizswords, about an evil witch named Widower and a family of wizards and warriors who fought against her. Being an author was always my dream job, I just never really thought it could be possible.
2. Growing up reading what role if any, did libraries play in this.
I loved my school library! I read so many of their books we had to start ordering new stuff in. There was a competition for each class where the person who read the most books would get a chocolate bar each month. They had to create a second prize for my class because I won every time and the other kids had given up trying. I also used to go to Chelsea Library on occasion.
3. Why did you choose to participate in NaNoWriMo and then share your work online?
Honestly, the main reason was I wanted people to read my work and tell me what they thought. Up until that point, only a handful of friends and family had ever seen my work and most of them weren’t fans of scifi and fantasy. I also wanted to build a platform to help get a publishing deal, inspired by other writers who had done the same.
4. Did you find you were adapting the story with the feedback you were getting?
Sometimes! The problem with feedback is often readers don’t know what they want. I’m sure that many people would love George R R Martin to stop killing off their favourite characters, but if he didn’t it would be a very different story and far less compelling. For example, Fletcher’s summoning level is lower than his rivals. Most of my fans wanted me to make Fletcher just as powerful, or even more powerful. That wouldn’t make for much of an underdog story! I think generally fans let me know what characters and elements of the story they were enjoying, so I could refocus some of the chapters to include more action or more of a role for that character.
5. What is it like writing book two without the social element?
I think the writing and story has improved, as I’m not writing it on the fly. That being said, motivating myself is a bit tougher, as the only reward for me finishing a chapter is my own sense of achievement rather than hundreds of encouraging messages from fans.
6. What can you tell us about Book 2??? (cheeky question I know)
In Book 2 (The Inquisition) will see Fletcher and his friends taking part in a brutal competition that will take them behind enemy lines into the heart of orcdom itself. He gets a new demon and you get to see more of the elven and dwarven world. (!!!!!! THIS IS EXCITING - and TITLE!!)
Technically it was Penguin Random House. I arrived on the first day of the merger, which was very exciting. The most interesting thing I discovered was how important other books are for predicting a new book’s sales. The author’s previous books are important, but for a debut they will look at similar books that came out recently. This isn’t the only thing they look at of course, but it made me realise that for a novel to be commercial and make the most sense to a publisher, it needs to be similar enough to other books that they know where to position it, but dissimilar enough that the book remains fresh and original.
8. What was the most important thing you got out of that?
Honestly, It was meeting authors at their events. It made me realise that authors are real people rather than the high brow literary geniuses that I pictured.
9. Do you think internships are a useful way of opening up the publishing industry to people?
It’s probably the best way. Sadly, my internship was one of a very small number of paid internships available in publishing. The demand for internships at publishers is so high they can offer them unpaid. For example, there were over five thousand applicants for the four paid internship roles on offer that year.
10. Your book was noticed by a number of literary agents, can you tell us a little about how all that happened?
After I was mentioned in an NBC news article, an audiobook publisher expressed their interest in buying the audiobook rights to my book. I wasn’t sure what to do so contacted a few literary agents on facebook and one via email, asking for advice. They all asked to see my manuscript and all offered representation. I was fortunate enough to then have a coffee with an editor who wrote down a list of the best three agents in the UK for my genre. I contacted them too and was offered representation by all three of them also. I eventually chose Juliet Mushens as my agent.
11. What were you looking for/ what should people look for in an agent?
If you’re financially driven, you’ll look at how lucrative their recent deals have been. Others will look at how hands-on the agent is, how deeply they understand your book, how successful the other authors they represent are and how well you get on with them. Luckily for me, Juliet ticked all the boxes.