Hi Candace! Thanks for stopping by the blog to answer a few questions!
I’m a person who loves book titles and THE INEVITABLE COLLISION OF BIRDIE & BASH screams YA to me. The title alone grabs you and makes you think that the collision of the characters is going to be epic — real teen-style drama. When you sat down to write with a kernel of an idea, did you know that a “collision” was about to happen between your main characters? Or did you figure out the inevitable party scene later in your drafting process?
I knew right away I wanted to write the central tragedy as one my family experienced personally in 1979, but in a way that links Birdie & Bash in an unforgettable way. Tying in The Collision Theory further helped cement the thematic message of their metaphoric, and literal, collision. The hard part was trying to figure out how to do it, so it made sense, but also with a delicate touch so not to hurt my family with another reminder, but rather, help them heal.
You wrote your debut with dual, alternating POV. Why was this important to the message of the book?
I’m a fan of multiple POV books because there’s always more than one version to a story. Had I only told Birdie’s perspective, you may never understand why Bash makes the decisions he does. Likewise, if Bash was the sole narrator, you’d miss out on the dynamics within her family and what makes her tick. The two go hand-in-hand.
How did you land your agent? What advice would you give to writers in the querying trenches?
This is a long, painful story. I had my first agent way back in 2009 with a book that, I now know, was never actually on submission! It’s OK though. Looking back, that wasn’t the book I should debut with anyway (I tell myself). The agent ghosted (suddenly) and I was so distraught, I took a break from novel writing to freelance. Years passed, and although I was racking up experience on my resume, any books I wrote were for just for me. I was too scared to go through all that pain and rejection again.
At some point, I found the courage to get feedback, query, etc., but still hadn’t written THE book. Enter Birdie & Bash. Once I had that draft, and revised it one major time (thanks to an agent’s helpful notes), I found the agent who sold it (but she left the agency, then I got another agent, another, and now, I’m finally settled with another! WHEW!). Basically, my journey is one long, nauseating roller coaster ride.
If you’re querying, the easiest thing to do is to give up. Don’t. Rejection hurts. Criticism hurts. Writing hurts. But growth comes from those things. You have to brush it off and push through. If this thing doesn’t get the agent, write another thing. And another. And another. Just keep swimming. No. Matter. What. And when you feel discouraged, get a therapy cat and pet her all the time, just like I did.
How did your experience as a ghost-writer help (or maybe hinder) your novel writing process?
It definitely helped prep me for hard deadlines, criticism, and struggling financially! With a lot of my projects, I had quick turn-around times (aka—no messing around), so I had no choice but to get to it (even when the pay wasn’t worth my time). It did take away from the time I’d spend on my own work though, so if I had to do it over again, I’d have taken on less work to follow this dream instead. The pay’s a little better and the rewards are second to none.
I know you’re an avid runner. How would you compare writing a book to running a marathon?
I am! They’re so, so similar in terms of how they both require all my mental focus to not give up. With running long distances, there comes a point in every race I want to bow out, forget I trained (and paid for the entry fee). Because it’s SO much easier to quit when it’s painful. With writing, it’s the same thing. Those mental muscles are tested, often, so the trick is learning how to strengthen them (or tune them out) when fatigued. Both require dedication, persistence, and self-reflection. I always want to be a better version of myself today, than I was yesterday. Running and writing teach me, I can be.
THANK YOU so much, Candace! It was a pleasure chatting with you!
To learn more Candace’s debut YA novel, check out my blog post HERE.