Emery Lord has loved contemporary YA since she was thirteen-years-old.
“Part of me feels more at home and comfortable in YA publishing than I could in any other job. But another part of me still can’t believe I get to be a part of an industry that has given me so, so much. I’m pretty much constantly happy-weepy about it.”
Now, Lord is just three months away from the publication of her debut novel, Open Road Summer, and the process has been surreal.
“I connected with my agent about a month after sending out queries. I wrote Open Road Summer in about a year, and the first offer came in after six weeks on sub,” said Lord.
In Open Summer Road, best friends Reagan O’Neill and country superstar Lilah Montgomery are both nursing broken hearts. Ready to leave her rebellious ways behind, Reagan takes off with Lilah on her 24-city tour.
If Lord had the chance, she would tour with Sarah Bareilles.
“She does amazing ballads, anthems and covers. Plus I think she seems like the coolest chick to hang out with.” And if she could pick the cities they stopped in? “I’d want to trace the road trip tour my characters take across the US, ending in Nashville.”
Throughout the process, Lord has constantly been ready to improve and embraced the moment her book was first sent off to an editor. One thing that kept her going? Being a member of the OneFour KidLit group.
“A few members tweeted me the day my deal was announced. As for helpfulness – what comes to mind is the CS Lewis quote, ‘Friendship is born in that moment when one person says to another: What! You too? I thought I was the only one.’ It’s about shared experience, support, the generosity that is such a token of the kidlit industry, and sometimes just making each other laugh,” explained Lord.
Though 2014 has only just begun, Lord is already excited for all the books that are set to be released.
“I’m not exaggerating when I say every single 2014 debut I’ve read so far has been phenomenal. But Ruin & Rising by Leigh Bardugo. I cannot WAIT.”
In the mean time, she’s been keeping herself busy with new projects. She already has a second novel, set to release in 2015.
“Like my first book, it’s about friendships and family drama and falling in love and the glory and catastrophe of setting who you are against who you want to be. But the main character is very different than the one in Open Road Summer. And it’s an overhauled version of the first manuscript I ever wrote, so it’s immensely precious to me,” she explained.
Lord has some advice for those authors who will be debuting that year.
“Protect your wonder. Books, and especially books narrated by kids and teens, are born of passion and a fierce love of storytelling. Nothing—not the difficulty of drafting and revisions and deadlines, not angst about the future, not negative reviews—nothing is worth surrendering that magic to cynicism or disaffectedness.”