Andrea Hannah’s debut novel, Of Scars and Stardust, doesn’t have cover art yet. The release date is still tentative, with the possibility of it releasing in the fall of 2014.
With so much uncertainty, Hannah feels weird.
“There’s this lull that usually comes between when you find out your book has sold to when marketing starts ramping up before release. I’m in the midst of that lull right now, so sometimes I have to remind myself that oh yeah, I sold a book! I think it’ll feel even more exciting once I get to reveal my cover.”
While her initial thought was something along the lines of “oh. my. god,” Hannah admits that sending her book off to an editor has been the least nerve-wracking part of the process.
“I remember emailing my agent after she sent the submission list and literally squealing, I was so excited. Weirdly enough, I wasn’t nervous about that phase of the publishing process at all. I just honestly love this book so much – it’s still my favorite book I’ve written to date – that I was so excited for more people to read it and give me feedback,” she explained.
Hannah began drafting Of Scars and Stardust one year during NanoWriMo. She took two months to revise it, then began querying in February of the following year. By April, she had signed with her agent.
“That seems pretty fast, but all the time I was revising, I was also researching agents and having critique partners look over my query letter. I went into querying pretty well prepared,” she explained.
One thing she wasn’t prepared for, though? How long it would take to sell the book.
“I did another round of revisions with my agent in June and it went on submission in July. This book didn’t sell until the following July, a whole year later, and only after two major rewrites and a new submissions list. It’s kind of a crazy story, really, and I’m lucky my agent believed in this book enough to keep trying for that long!”
While Hannah’s journey has so far been met with ups and downs, she has had the support of the OneFour KidLit group to help her through it all.
“I learned about the OneFour KidLit group because I’m fortunate to know several of the authors debuting this year. So I’d been stalking their Twitter feed and blog for quite awhile, hoping that one day I’d get to join them. I’m just now starting to get more involved with the group as I had a bit of a whirlwind 2013, but I can already see how helpful the group will be in terms of support and promotion and I can’t wait to get more involved with all these awesome authors!”
With a book that she describes as “eerie, heartbreaking and hopeful,” Hannah has had to look up some rather strange things.
“Oh good lord, I’ve tweeted about how if the FBI tapped my computer, I would be in jail by now. When I wrote Of Scars and Stardust, I googled ‘injuries with a paring knife,’ ‘bloody paw prints’ and other things I can’t tell you about or it would give away the ending. Most recently I’ve googled ‘how to start a building on fire.’ Because I write light and funny stories, you know? Insert sarcasm here.”
Being an author is a hectic job, and often requires writer’s to step into the mind of their main characters. For Hannah, her main character, Claire Graham, has to deal with the disappearance of her little sister. As a result, Claire suffers from delusions – or so says her psychiatrist.
So, naturally, Hannah had to consider what she would see if she suffered from delusions as well.
“I would hope my delusions wouldn’t be scary and life-threatening like Claire’s. In fact, I’d hope they’d be about cupcakes and beach vacations, but I’m guessing they’d probably be about deadlines and centipedes. Ugh, centipedes for sure. I wish I could eradicate every last one of them. I’m also super afraid of zombies, so I’d probably have delusions of the zombie apocalypse or something.”
Though Of Scars and Stardust is a stand-alone right now, Hannah is hard at work on some new projects.
“I’m in the middle of drafting two stories right now. One is about an airplane mechanic’s apprentice who stumbles upon a piece of evidence, which will lead her to the arsonist that’s been lighting her small town on fire. And I can’t even sum up the other right now as I’m still weaving through it and figuring it out as I go, but basically it involved a massive telescope, a radio trivia contest, and a murder. So there’s that.”
Working on new projects hasn’t stopped her from getting in some reading time, though. And she’s definitely excited for some of the books coming out this year.
“I’m pretty excited for Kathleen Hale’s No One Else Can Have You, because it’s small-town creepy and quirky, and that’s totally my thing. I’m also looking forward to Dahlia Adler’s Behind the Scenes, Stefanie Gaither’s Falls the Shadow, and Lauren Oliver’s Panic.”
Her advice to the 2015 debut authors?
“Make connections, starting today. So much of writing is solitary, until we get to the part where we’re not just writers; now we’re authors. And authors have to embrace other people to help them get the word out about their books. I’m not saying to get on Twitter and spam everyone with links to your book. Instead, actually get to know and enjoy people in the writing community. They’re not only a wealth of resources, but they are awesome people. Don’t be afraid to jump in, get to know people, and help them out. You’ll be surprised by how much they’ll support you in return.”