Today we are welcoming our first-ever guest, PENNY BLUBAUGH, author of Blood and Flowers (Harper Teen), which was released March 1. We are also GIVING AWAY a signed copy of Blood and Flowers to one lucky winner. To find out how to qualify for a chance to win, keep reading to the end!
Kirkus Reviews says of Blood and Flowers, “..atmospheric language, arresting “culture mash-up,” unique characters, an alluring overlap of fantasy and reality, and strong themes of family and friendship create a provocative read.”
I would have to agree. My copy arrived in the mail just a day before writing this post, and I had trouble putting it down long enough to pull this interview together!
Blood and Flowers, the story of an underground theater troop that flees into the world of Faeries when a vindictive enemy levels false accusations against them, is not Penny Blubaugh’s first book. Her debut novel, Serendipity Market (Harper Teen) appeared in Spring 2009. While Blood and Flowers is edgy urban fantasy, Serendipity Market is the gentle tale of a gathering of story tellers whose stories and the magic within them sets the world’s spin into balance.
Penny joins us this week to talk about aspects of the writing life after the first book, and how the second book is different.
Welcome, Penny! Tell us a little about yourself as a writer.
In addition to being a writer, I’m also a YA librarian, and co-founder and co-organizer of LitWorks, one huge teen literature festival, now in its third year. I have an MFA in Writing for Children from Vermont College of Fine Arts where I worked with Ron Koertge (who I still go to for advice) and Chris Lynch, among others. (Best schooling ever!!)
I write YA fantasy because I love YA literature and the kids who read it. I was probably set on the fantasy track the first time I read A Wrinkle In Time when I was 10 or 12.
I hope that when readers read my books they get a sense of magic – that it’s out there and that you just have to be in the right place at the right time to find it. (Caveat: Please remember that sometimes that magic may not be the magic you were hoping for). And I hope they have fun.
When we started our blog a few months ago, we told our stories of “Getting the Call” on our debut novels. What was it like getting the call for you the first time, and was it just as exciting the second time around?
Actually, the second time might have been more exciting. HarperCollins had had Serendipity Market, my first book for a long, long time – I think it was about two years. I’d been working on it with them before I had Erin Murphy as my agent. They’d talked about the possibility of publishing for quite a while – it was almost anti-climatic when it actually sold (which happened about two weeks after I signed with Erin.)
For Blood and Flowers, though – that was the one that, when Erin called, my first response was, “I beg your pardon?” (One should always be polite to one’s agent.) “What did you just say?”
How was the process of writing your second novel different from your first novel?
I don’t think I changed much about my writing process. I tend to be rather linear. I start with an idea, I have another idea about where I want to end up, and I just sort of wander in that direction. With Serendipity Market it was slightly different because each story was dropped a frame story, but each story, on its own was still very linear. Blood and Flowers was a straight shot to the end, and then gallons of editing.
What about the publishing process? Was it different the second time around?
I knew more the second time around. That meant that all those things (Ooh! Copyedits!) that were so thrilling and “authorly” were more commonplace and therefore a little less thrilling. I stressed about a whole new set of problems like publication dates, reviews, and quick turn-arounds simply because I now had expectations. Those were expectations both for myself and for everyone else involved with the book. I’d done it once and I thought I knew how it should work. And it did work that way overall, but of course it was completely different, as well. I think I was more nervous with Blood and Flowers and probably more paranoid!
What words of wisdom would you have for a writer just “Getting the Call” for the first time?
It’s so exciting. It feels like everything you’ve been working toward for so long. And it is, in its way. So celebrate! Celebrate every little thing about your writing life that you can find to celebrate. There’s a lot about this process that can bring you down, so enjoy when you can. I just indulged in rejection cupcakes!
Mmmm. Rejection cupcakes. Next time I get a rejection letter, I’m coming to your house, Penny. But other than cupcakes, what would you say is the most satisfying part of being an author for you?
I love it when the writing flows, when you read something you’ve written and say, “Wow! That sounds really good!” And I love when I find out something about my characters that I didn’t know. Holding that published book in my hand is pretty high up on the list, too.
Thanks for taking time to talk to us today, Penny, and good luck to you and to Blood and Flowers!
And speaking of GOOD LUCK, and Blood and Flowers, Penny Blubaugh has graciously supplied one signed copy to be given to a lucky reader this week. After much discussion among all of us here at EMU’s Debuts, we have decided the best use of this give-away is to create SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION (Shameless on our part, Penny had nothing to do with the plan, but Blood and Flowers deserves the buzz!)
So here’s how it works: to be entered in the drawing, post/send a link to this interview through Facebook, your own blog, or Twitter. Let us know in the comments where the post is and you will be entered to win, once for each place you announce it (up to three per person if you blog, and tweet, and post to Facebook!) Shameless, we know. But trust us, Penny’s new book is totally worth it! Winner will be announced next Monday, March 14.