Rory Shay's first novel, Elected, has just been released. I was lucky enough to snag a few precious moments from her busy life to answer some questions about writing and publishing.
Rori, congrats on the release of your first novel! You’re living the dream that a lot of people have. Can you tell us a bit about your path of writing the book and getting it published?
RS: Thanks for having me on your blog, Tammar. Sure, I can tell you that story. It's definitely a story about perseverance, not giving up, and always keeping your head up because you don't know what's around the corner! When I finished ELECTED, I was new to the publishing industry and against all advice from my wiser-than-I-admitted-at-the-time writer's critique group, I started querying agents right after typing "the end" into my first draft. I hadn't even re-read the whole thing yet! I actually got a few interested parties through that initial search (5 out of about 50), but didn't get signed by those agents. I then joined the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and learned a lot more about editing and how to look more professional in the industry. I set out again querying after having edited ELECTED thoroughly, and that time I found an agent. But that wasn't until I'd queried 82 people! Then the search for a publisher began. We found one who seemed supportive and very dedicated to ELECTED, but a month before my scheduled release date, the unthinkable happened. That publisher closed its doors! All my work editing with them for over a year. All my plans for a book launch party. All the promo I had lined up. I thought it was all gone. You can image how devastated I was. But the next part of the story goes to show you don't know what's around the corner. One of the reviewers who'd read an ARC of ELECTED heard about my publisher closing. She contacted a publisher she worked with, and within 48 hours, Silence in the Library Publishing picked up ELECTED and agreed to keep it on the original release path, dates/launch party/promo and everything!
TS: That's an incredible story! Even though most authors might not have the same crazy experience, every published author I know has hopeless downs and ecstatic ups. It's an unacknowledged part of the publishing process! What’s the best advice you ever got as a writer?
RS: Keep writing no matter what. I once spoke to Jodi Piccoult (author of My Sister's Keeper and a TON of other books) about advice for a new author. She said that if your first manuscript doesn't sell to a publisher, keep writing…in fact write another book. Her first book never took off, but it was her second that made it. Many years ago I wrote a checklist novel that didn't go anywhere, but I took Jodi's advice and wrote a second book. That turned out to be ELECTED.
TS: If it won’t spoil the plot, what’s your favorite scene in Elected?
RS: I love the first scene the male lead, Griffin, tells the main character, Aloy, that he knows her secret. When I read that scene and especially the line, "You're a girl", I get chills.
TS: What’s your favorite line?
RS: Oh, haha! I should have read this question before answering the last one. It's that same line from my favorite scene with Aloy and Griffin.
TS: What are some of your favorite books?
RS: I loved reading Gone with the Wind when I was younger. And now I've reread Hunger Games so many times I can't count. I also adore the Harry Potter books.
Thanks, Rori! Congrats on the novel and can't wait to read what happens next!