Hi there! My name's Stephanie. My debut novel, The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly, was released from Dial/Penguin in 2015. The Arsonist releases from Dial/Penguin in 2017. I'm represented by Jennifer Laughran at Andrea Brown Literary. I also teach and manage a combined elementary and middle school library in Spokane, Washington.
Q & A:
If you could only take three books with you to a desert island, what would they be?
I'm going to cheat and count one as the complete Harry Potter series. I'm a diehard Harry Potter fan and I could easily live out the rest of my days reading only Harry Potter books. Second, I think I'd need to take Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta, which is also one of my favorite books. And last, probably the Bloody Jack books by LA Meyer. Jacky's gumption would probably give me inspiration to build my own raft or hail a pirate ship to get off of the island.
What is your publication story?
Very long story short—I spent a couple of years looking for representation for The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly (yes, years), during which time I wrote another book (The Arsonist) and rewrote Minnow based on the generous feedback from agents. I finally landed my dream agent, Jennifer Laughran at Andrea Brown Literary, and she was able to sell my book to Dial Books for Young Readers in about a month.
The moral of my story—Persistence pays off
What books inspired you to write?
Some incredibly influential YA novels fell into my lap around the time I was trying to figure out where my writing fit. Some of these books include The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale, Feed by MT Anderson, Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, and Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh. They opened up possibilities for me and showed me a world where my writing might fit.
Advice to writers starting out?
Cut yourself so much slack. It might feel like there’s only one way to write successfully, but there are literally as many ways to write as there are writers. I have to remind myself of this constantly. Just because writing is sometimes a painful slog, just because you don’t write everyday, just because you skip around your draft and can’t write linearly, just because you get distracted by everything shiny on the internet when you sit down to write (who doesn’t?)—none of that means your process isn’t valuable. Eventually, I realized that my haphazard approach was actually working for me. And while you can always try to improve aspects of your writing life, try to value your own unique approach foremost.