Stephanie Diaz’s debut novel, Extraction, is being compared to Divergent, Ender’s Game, and The Hunger Games. Such comparisons come with a lot of pressure for a new author.
“Those are some of my favorite books, so it’s very cool that some people think they’re similar to mine, but it’s also terrifying. It’s a lot to live up to,” said Diaz.
In Extraction, when a person reaches their sixteenth birthday, they are tested. If they are deemed promising, they are sent to the Core, a place where people live without fear or starvation. But, like any good dystopian, there’s always a catch.
Extraction will be a trilogy, something that Diaz was very excited about.
“Once I realized there was a good deal more to book one’s story, I really wanted to share what happens next. I’ve already finished a draft of book two, and I’m psyched to get started on revisions soon. Book three hasn’t been 100% planned out yet – I’m more of a pantster than a plotter – but I do have a pretty good idea how it will end.”
At only 21, Diaz’s publication accomplishes huge goal at a young age. With six months to go until Extraction hits shelves, Diaz says it still hasn’t sunk in that she’ll be a published author soon.
“I wished so much that it would happen, but I never wanted to get my hopes too high. It still doesn’t quite feel real yet — I don’t think it will until I see Extraction on a bookstore shelf for the first time,” said Diaz.
For Diaz, the publication process was a bit like a roller coaster. Extraction was not the first book she queried. It was the third. But the third time’s the charm and, after six years of querying – yes, she began at age thirteen – she landed her agent at only 19.
“Once I began querying Extraction, there were a lot of ups-and-downs in the process that made it feel like it might never end up published. But looking back now, everything happened fairly quickly. I finished the first draft of the book in two months, spent a month revising it, and then spent six months querying until I got an offer. Once I signed with an agent, we spent another few months revising before sending the book out to editors. It took six weeks to sell. So it was really only a little over a year between writing the book and selling it. But it felt like forever at the time,” said Diaz.
As a young author, Diaz wants other people her age to know that getting published isn’t a race.
“Don’t give up if it’s your dream, but know when to set aside one manuscript and write another. You’re always going to be growing as a writer, so just because one project doesn’t sell doesn’t mean your next one won’t. And sometimes you’ll realize that first project really wasn’t as great as you thought it was—trust me.”
As for the books she’s looking forward to in 2014? She says she’s excited for all the debuts from OneFour KidLit and the Class of 2k14, pretty much.
“But if I have to pick just one book, I’ll go with Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo. I’ve been pining for it ever since I finished Siege and Storm.”
Aside from the Extraction trilogy, Diaz says she’s working on several new projects, including a YA sci-fi and a YA contemporary.