Q&A

On The Opposite of Magic, writing and kumquats

(Note: Spoiler-free!)

Q. Did you have any fantasy books in mind when you wrote The Opposite of Magic?

A. Well, Emily Daggett certainly read a lot of them as a kid — plenty enough to influence her. But I didn’t have any specifically in mind, other than the genre standards by J.R.R. Tolkien and J.K. Rowling, whose wise, aged wizards are the sort Emily had hoped to get herself. What influenced me the most was in a completely different genre altogether: Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey.

Q. What’s next?

A. The first in a planned three-novel series. Called Subversive, it’s about a woman caught up in the anti-magic movement in an alternate twenty-first-century America run by wizards — and the wizard who alters the course of her life when he returns to town.

Q. Will The Opposite of Magic have a sequel?

A. I’ve thought about it. If the idea for a sequel calls to me as strongly as Subversive is calling now, then I will.

Q. Do you live in Iowa?

A. Not now, but I once did.

Q. Who’s your publisher?

A. I am. The indie publishing movement is awfully exciting these days. Writers have so many new ways to reach readers. (So while in some ways I’ve come full circle — my dad helped me self-publish the novella I wrote at age 9 — it’s also completely different now.)

Q. Where can I get advice about writing/finding an agent/indie publishing?

A. Hooray for the Internet, because you can find a ton of information out there. (Not all of it is good, but a lot is.)

Here are a few blogs to get you started, all of which helped me:

Miss Snark’s First Victim, a wonderful blog by an agented author who runs contests and other events that give writers feedback and opportunities.

Flogging the Quill. Writer Ray Rhamey “flogs” the first page of writers’ novels, offering (kind) suggestions for improvements.

Agent Kristin Nelson’s Pub Rants, a helpful look at the publishing world, including tips for people on the hunt for an agent. Check out the blogs she links to, too.

Query Shark, agent Janet Reid’s helpful/hilarious blog for constructive criticism on queries (i.e. the letters in which writers pitch their books to agents). She’s nicer than she gives herself credit for.

Writer Beware and the Writer Beware blog. Scams abound — these sites help you avoid them.

Alexandra Sokoloff’s Screenwriting Tricks for Authors. I’m way too much of a scaredy-cat to read her horror/suspense novels, but her blog is a gold mine for any writer. Her explanation of how to use the three-act structure to strengthen your novels turned me from a seat-of-the-pants plotter to a planner.

A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing. A traditionally published author gone solo, Joe Konrath offers tips, rants and a revealing look at the indie movement.

Q. Wait, what about kumquats? You promised something about kumquats.

A. My daughter and I think “kumquat” is a perfectly hilarious word, so I had to bring it up somewhere. Kumquat!

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