I'm author ELLE STRAUSS and welcome to my website!
I write fun, lower Young Adult (teen) fiction to do with whimsical things like time-travel, fairies and merfolk.
When my serious side peeks out, she's called LEE STRAUSS. She likes to write upper YA about real things that have happened in the past, or made up things that could quite possibly happen in the future.
This blog is about books, mine and other fab authors', but occasionally I'll share about other topics.
Thanks for dropping by!
Monday, March 15, 2010
Introducing Rachel Mercaldo!
Tomorrow I announce the winner of my new agent contest!
Today I'm very pleased to interview an all kinds of awesome ,up and coming young author-- Rachel Mercaldo.
Rachel and I share the same awesome agent, Natalie Fischer from the Sandra Dijkstra agency, so that makes us agent sisters! Rachel found me on facebook and then had the great idea to do interviews. She's obviously very smart, and I'm not just saying that!
ES: You are among the rare fortunate few to already be agented in your teens. Can you tell us a bit about your query journey?
RM: My story is slightly different than most, actually. I queried 3 books before The Virginity Thief and got nowhere. Finally VT came to me. After my first experience with betas and working with other writers to make the book the best I could manage, I queried it. I got requests. I got a lot (a lot) of rejections. I also won a pitch contest and was able to submit a full. But Natalie and I actually found each other another way. A friend of mine gave her my name and we ended up interviewing Natalie for a group blog we contributed to. Then Natalie found herself at my blog, where I had a 'blurb' of VT up. She liked the sound of it and e-mailed a request.
Wow, that is unorthodox. Also proof that good blogging has many benefits.
ES: When did you start writing and what kind of stories did you write?
RM: Oh, my writing career started at the ripe old age of 7. I wrote a story about a princess locked away in a tower, saved by a dashing prince. I read it to anyone I could manage to make listen and I even planned on writing a sequel full of breathless sword fights - my younger brother influencing me. Then it was a fantasy revolving around a missing horse, full of fun animal friends, one of which liked to play with swords too. Who knows, maybe I'll return to that someday, but all my other work has been in line with my YA contemporary bent.
ES: Can you tell us a bit about your literary work?
RM: With Natalie is The Virginity Thief, and because of edits that's what I'm really working on right now. Mari Abdo is my main character, an up and coming Hollywood actress forced by her parents to move to the East Coast. Her opinion of her new home, a slow farming town, is less than kind… especially after she is rejected by the first boy she is attracted to, Adam, and discovers he is part of the school’s elite club of male virgins.Determined to prove to Adam that no man can stay a virgin long, Mari employs the help of a few misfit wannabes to bring down the virginity club. Each is given the name of a member to seduce and destroy, and for herself Mari takes the hardest case; Adam, the newest club member who has something to prove.
ES: How do you juggle being a student with your work as a writer?
RM: I'm lucky I don't work full time! And I don't mean that as a joke. I spend my days on the degree and tutoring, and my nights on the manuscripts and beta reading. I think one of the hardest parts of a writer's job is balancing their art with "real life." It is a job in itself. There are a lot of late nights but they are so worth it.
ES: I see on your bio that you want to pursue math and IT as a career. How does that blend with your writing career?
RM: I believe my brain will forever be torn in half between mathematics and creative writing. Unless I somehow manage to inspire myself with mathematical concepts for some epic mathematical YA series (hey, anything is possible) I don't see them blending at all. What they do manage to create is a great balance. I'm never too focused on creative writing to the point it is my whole life and any failure would be heartbreaking; and I'm never too focused on mathematics that, say, not finding the inverse to a matrix ruins my day.
See, I told you she was smart!
ES: Where do you see yourself ten years from now?
RM: Taking this from a Math/Creative writing perspective... Oh wow. I hope for the perfect situation, when I can have my PhD and use it too, all while writing YA fiction that means something to me and to the readers who will, hopefully, get their hands on it. Maybe throw in a family too. Obviously the perfect situation is a hard one to ever get, and I might have to make some tough decisions in my future. But so far the balance has worked for me.
ES: Any advice to other writers in the querying process?
RM: Number one is don't give up. I can't repeat that enough. As I mentioned, I queried 3 books before VT came up. There were a lot of times I thought of letting go of the dream and focusing on other things. Thankfully I didn't, and I'd hate to see anyone else drop writing when the future is actually so bright.
Secondly is to not be afraid to "put yourself out there." Natalie found me because of the blogs I contribute to. In today's Internet age, it is really important to have a presence, and I'd encourage anyone to set themselves up for success through networking.
Thanks Rachel! You are an inspiration to all of us, and I anticipate a long and happy career ahead of you!