Want a sneak peek of how awesome Sarah Mlynowski is before our wonderful Ally Chat discussion with her on February 15th?
Well, Sarah’s doing a sort of blog tour right now, and she agreed to stop by today to answer a few of my questions (before she answers yours in a few weeks).
So here goes!
Hi, Sarah, you just finished the fourth book in your Magic in Manhattan series. Do you believe in magic yourself?
Well, I used to wish I could be a writer when I grew up, and that came true. So yes. Er, but I am still waiting for better cleavage and my own pony so… fingers crossed.
You wrote a nonfiction book, SEE JANE WRITE, what inspired you to do that? If you could go back in time and give your 12-year-old self one piece of writing advice what would it be?
Readers kept asking me questions about writing. Like how to come up with an idea, how to beat writer’s block, how to get published…so I thought, why not write a how-to book? I decided that if I were reading a writing book I would want it to have both a writer and editor’s perspective. So I asked Farrin Jacobs (who was my editor at the time) if she wanted to co-write the book. She did and off we went.
My advice to 12-year old me? Unless you enjoy sorting through moldy spaghetti sauce, so not leave your retainer in a napkin in the cafeteria.
Oh. Writing advice. Right. Hmm.
Read everything—romance, historical fiction, adventures, chick lit, whatever—to get exposed to lots of different genres. And always be writing! Write the kind of fiction you like to read (whether romance, historical fiction, adventures or chick lit). That way you always know your target market—you. And keep lots of diaries. I re-read all of mine before I wrote Bras & Broomsticks and they really helped transport my brain back to high school.
That was more than one piece of advice, huh? I’m very bossy. Maybe the real reason I wanted to write a guide book is because I enjoy telling people what to do.
Did you know you were going to write a series? And, if so, how far in advance did you know what the series plotlines were going to be?
From the start, I planned two books. I sold Bras & Broomsticks and Frogs & French Kisses together. Actually, Frogs & French Kisses was originally called Frenching & Frogs Legs. But thankfully my editor nixed that.
I knew that the first book would be about Rachel finding out that her little sister had magical powers and the two of them trying to stop their dad’s second wedding. I knew that the second book would be about love spells gone wrong. I had a vague idea for a possible third book that would be about magical powers running amok at sleepaway camp, but I wasn’t sure if my publisher would want it. Luckily they did and it became Spells & Sleeping Bags.
That was supposed to be the last one, but then they asked if I would do one more…and I was super excited. I missed my witch girls!
I think, at their core, you books are books about sisters. Did you have a sister? How did that shape the novels?
I have a little sister. And yes, she will be my “little” sister even when she is seventy and I am seventy-six and a half. Ever since Aviva was born and took over my role as the center of my family, I’ve been writing stories about her.
There was “Life with The Squirt,” “The Squirt Ate My Homework,” and “The Adventures of SuperSquirt.” That one was about a little sister who could fly. The Magic in Manhattan books were definitely shaped by the love, jealousy, and pride involved in a sister relationship.
Growing up, I was always fascinated with the idea of attending a camp like the girls attend in SPELLS AND SLEEPINGBAGS. Did you go to a camp like that? Am I the only one who had that fascination?
I did go to a camp like that! I started going as a “junior” (age nine) and went for ten years until I was a unit head. The camp is called Pripstein’s Camp and is in Quebec, where I’m from.
A lot of the stuff I wrote about is right from my experiences…the stacking (cleaning) in the dining hall, the midnight raids, the canoe trips, the swimming lessons…I hated swimming lessons. (The lake was about twenty degrees and I swim about as well as Rachel does…like an electrocuted rock.)
Writing Spells a blast. It was like going back to camp. Except without any of the mosquito bites.
Hey Ally, do they have camp for grownups? I’m in if you are…
What’s next for the Magic in Manhattan series?
At the moment, the fourth book is the last book. But we’ll see. I thought the third book was the last book.
Hmm, maybe Rachel should transfer to Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women and go on adventures with Cammie. What do you think? A witch at spy school sounds fun to me…
Thanks so much for asking me these awesome questions Ally! And I can’t wait for the bookclub!!!!!