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Monday, February 1, 2010

What Will You Be Writing in 2010?

The short answer to this question is that I hope to write two books. I'm a little bit frustrated with myself that I'm not going to have a new book out in 2010. That of course is perfectionist, straight-A student Stephanie talking (a side of my personality that people who don't know me that well or who just judge me by the way I dress or maybe the kind of characters I write probably are surprised to find I have, but I was totally the stoner kid who secretly cared about school.). The reality is this. I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE took three and a half years to write. I first had the idea in summer of 2002, worked on it through grad school, finished my first draft of it in September of 2005, did some revisions for my agent and then she started shopping it in January of 2006. It didn't sell until April 2007 and of course didn't come out until July 2008. Oh and there were 6 weeks of revisions in there too.

I started writing BALLADS OF SUBURBIA in February of 2006, and it took about a year to write. I did probably did about 3 months of revisions before my agent shopped it and then 6 weeks of revisions after it sold. That one sounds like it went faster, but really I spent a year way back in 2000 when I wrote an early version of the story and then I brainstormed on it while I wrote IWBYJR so I went into it with a really solid idea of the plot and characters.

So basically since February of 2007 when I finished the first major draft of BALLADS, I've just been revising and toying with new ideas and promoting... which took up way more time than I would have liked and that is why I don't have a new book coming out this year. But beating myself up over that doesn't do anything for me and probably the more important thing to acknowledge is that my story ideas take a lot of stewing. If I dive right into them like IWBYJR, they take longer to writer. Or if I let them stew for longer, they go faster like BALLADS. Now I want to make up for lost time and fortunately I've been messing around with 5 different story ideas since I wrote BALLADS. I lost interest in one, but maybe I'll figure it out eventually. I have two newer ideas that need to stew a bit longer, but the two that have been stewing the longest are ready to be written.

Of course right now I am in scary No Contract land. Idea #1 is in my editor's hands though and I'm hoping to have news about it soon. It is another realistic contemporary book like IWBYJR and BALLADS. You've probably heard me talk about it before if you follow my blog or twitter. It's about a seventeen year old vegan, anarchist girl named Zoe (I finally get to draw on my politically active teen days), who is constantly being moved from city to city whenever her mom, Ivy, breaks up with a man. Ivy is a bartender (so I get to use some of my bartending stories, which I'm excited about) and though she won't admit it, she is also an alcoholic. She acts much more like a teenager than Zoe does actually. As Hurricane Katrina is happening down in New Orleans, Hurricane Ivy strikes again, deciding to uproot Zoe from Seattle, the place where they've lived the past two years (and also my favorite city so I get to do research trips out there, yay!). At first Zoe goes along with this because two weeks ago, she ruined her life. Her best friend, an adorable street punk named Bender, kissed her and even though she may have feelings for him, she turned him down because she's still pining for her first boyfriend Gabe, a hot anarchist boy who has broken Zoe's heart repeatedly because he has no sense of monogamy whatsoever. However, after seeing the wreckage of Hurricane Katrina on TV and realizing what truly ruined lives look like, Zoe forces her mom to stay in Seattle so they can face their problems--which only get more complicated of course when Zoe's childhood friend Jake comes to live with them and Zoe's dad the Soap Star (yes, I get to incorporate soap operas, my big guilty pleasure!) reappears too and points out that Jake seems to be struggling with serious mental illness.

Oh god, I am terrible at those descriptions. Can you tell my editor writes the ones on the back of my books? Yeah... But basically it's about Zoe, her emotionally immature parents and her friends all having to finally grow up together.

Yeah, so hopefully that one will sell soon. I wrote a 50 page proposal for it, so then I would have to finish it.

And then there is the top secret project... the series of three books that I think I became a writer to write. I've talked before about how much I adore the Persephone myth and have wanted to do my own version of it. I attempted something last year, just using the skeleton of the myth with a contemporary realistic fiction story (ie what I know best). My agent recognized right away that it wasn't working and urged me to think about going paranormal/urban fantasy about it. I wasn't sure at first. Even though I read and love those kinds of books, could I write one? So back to the stewing.... Elements started to come together.... I remembered watching The Crow as a teen and thinking it was bad ass that Eric Draven was get vengeance on the goons who raped and killed his girlfriend and murdered him too, but part of me thought, shouldn't *she* be able to get back at the guys who raped her? And I always loved and identified with female archetypes like Ophelia and Persephone, but I wanted them not to drown or to fight back when they got carried off. I was a victim too in my teenage years, a victim of abuse... but actually I hate that word victim. I was a survivor. And I wanted to write something where the girls who are victimized fight back... I wanted a girl Crow.

So I took the bones of my contemporary story, which is about a girl whose sister has just died and she is dealing with terrible grief, something that I can relate to having lost three friends to sudden, shocking deaths in six short months, and I gave this girl a very interesting and powerful destiny, which she is about to uncover alongside her sister's best friend Persephone, the daughter of a model and one of the most famous dead rock stars in the world....

My agent has the first 80 pages of this one now and I'm waiting for her notes. But I'm hoping I'll be able to write and sell this one this year as well. I'm more excited about it than any other project I've done. It has all my favorite elements-- the rock'n' roll of IWBYJR, the hardhitting emotional issues of BALLADS, and now my beloved Greek Mythology added to the mix.

Yeah, I'm definitely making up for lost time.


Jennifer Echols said...

All these projects sound so exciting--and the best part about them is that YOU'RE excited! There is no better feeling! You will be out of Scary No Contract Land soon.

Heather said...

This was such an exciting blog post for me to read, Stephanie! I can't wait to read each of those books. They just sound incredible. I sincerely hope your agent and editor both contact you with their feedback soon!

Gah. Now I'm feeling all inspired. :) Off to go write!

Rachele Alpine said...

Oh wow...it sounds like you have some great projects in your head to keep you busy! My agent is about to start shopping my novel, and I think getting my ideas for my next book down on paper might be the best way for me to keep busy and not get anxious!

Stephanie Kuehnert said...

Thanks for all the sweet comments guys! I really appreciate your faith in me, Jenn :) And Heather, glad to have inspired you. Rachel, writing is definitely the best way to get through that anxiety. It's what I do!

Kathy Charles said...

All of these projects sound amazing. I'm sure 2010 is going to be your most successful year yet!

Stephanie Kuehnert said...

I hope so, Kathy, thanks!

Danielle Joseph said...

I agree, not only do these stories sound amazing but your enthusiasm is contagious! Here's to hoping you have two new novels debuting in 2011!!