Debbie Fischer interview with David Alan Binder
Post date: Apr 4, 2016 1:33:47 PM
Debbie Fischer interview with David Alan Binder
BIO: Debbie Reed Fischer is the award-winning author of novels for teens and tweens, and has been praised by Kirkus Reviews for balancing “weighty issues with a sharp wit.” Her upcoming middle grade novel THIS IS NOT THE ABBY SHOW (Random House/ Delacorte) comes out in July of 2016. She has a degree in screenwriting from the University of Miami and worked for many years as an agent for film and TV, then as a middle and high school English teacher. The daughter of an Air Force colonel, Debbie has lived in England, Greece, and Israel, and currently lives in South Florida with her husband and kids.
1. Where are you currently living?
I live in South Florida, but I’m not really from anywhere because I grew up moving frequently.
2. What is the most important thing that you have learned in your writing experience, so far?
Writing is rewriting, and you have to put it in the hours. It’s a mental marathon, and you can get to the finish line, but you have to push yourself harder than you ever thought you would.
3. What would you say is your most interesting writing, publishing, editing or illustrating quirk?
When I’m in the final stages of revising a completed novel, I print it out, separate each chapter into a pile, and arrange the piles on the floor in rows. For a week, one section of my house is basically carpeted in piles of paper. My family is so used to it by now; they just step over the stacks and don’t ask any questions.
4. Tell us your insights on self-publish or use a publisher?
a. Who is the name of your publisher and in what city are they?
Random House / Delacorte Press and they are in NYC.
5. Any insights eBooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?
I read on a device sometimes, but I prefer hard copy books. I’ve read that kids prefer hard copy books to reading on a screen. I know that’s true for my kids.
6. Do you have any secret tips for writers on getting a book published?
It’s no secret, but the winner is the last one standing. The biggest reason why people don’t get published is because they quit. This process takes years, not months. Keep writing, keep learning, and after you’ve had your manuscript critiqued by an experienced author/editor, work on getting an agent. Keep at it. Determination will see you through.
7. How did you or would you suggest acquire an agent? Any tips for new writers on getting one?
My tip would be to go to writing conferences where there are agents scouting for talent by doing critiques. I was very lucky because I found my agent at a writing conference (SCBWI) after he critiqued ten pages of my book. Within the first two minutes of meeting him, he told me I talked too much. I thought, ‘Here is a man who gets me.’ We clicked, and he has sold everything I’ve submitted to him. Find someone who “gets” you and your writing.
8. Do you have any suggestions or helps for new writers (please be specific and informational as possible)?
I would say find other writers you respect, ideally published writers, and then give them your pages for honest feedback. Join or create a critique group. If two or three people are telling you that you need to change this one thing in your manuscript, you should probably consider it. Sometimes that hurts a lot, sometimes it’s embarrassing, but it’s the only way to get better. Every writer has been told their weaknesses, and part of the process is throwing out some of what you write. Hemingway threw out most of his first draft pages. Kill your darlings.
9. What was one of the most surprising things you learned your creative process with your books, editing, publishing or illustrating?
I cannot write without post-its. I’ve written entire chapters on post-its, which I then type into my computer. They are all over my house. Post-its keep me from forgetting plot ideas and dialogue, and have become key to my creative process. I also have found that with each book, the “hook” kept changing. At a certain point, I gave up on the first few chapters, moved forward and finished the novel, then went back and rewrote the beginning. I get kind of obsessed with the first few lines. I’m learning to get past that.
10. How many books have you written?
I’ve written five books, and three have gotten published (two young adult, one middle grade), and have also been published in an anthology. My first novel is in a container in the garage (where it should remain because it’s embarrassingly bad), and another novel I’ve finished but set aside for now, because I need to think about how I’m going to rewrite it before submitting it to my agent. My newest novel is my middle grade debut, titled THIS IS NOT THE ABBY SHOW, and it comes out this July.
11. Do you have any tricks or tips to help others become a better writer (please be as specific and information as you possibly can)?
Find a mentor, perhaps another author or someone in the publishing industry. The best way to find a mentor is through a writing organization such as SCBWI if you write for children and teens, or RWA, if you write romance. Many of us are happy to give advice and help those who are on their journey to getting published. My website has a whole page on this topic: http://www.debbiereedfischer.com/writers.html
12. Do you have any suggestions for providing twists in a good story?
Drop bread crumbs leading up to the twist, and have the twist lead to some kind of revelation/ epiphany. It’s not about what happens in the story, it’s how the characters feel when there’s a plot pivot, and what the characters come to realize in the moment or aftermath. The biggest mistake I see when doing critiques is that the twist is contrived and doesn’t have an emotional connection to the character/s development.
13. What makes your or any book stand out from the crowd?
THIS IS NOT THE ABBY SHOW is about a girl handling the challenges of ADHD and new friendships, and those who’ve read it tell me it’s very funny, so I’m hoping the humor and heart is what makes it a stand-out. The other reason may be because the main character is a girl with a very hyperactive form of ADHD. I’ve already had excited parents of ADHD girls reaching out, telling me they pre-ordered books for their daughters because they can’t find any novels with girls who have ADHD. Most books only include boys with this condition.
If neither of these make the book stand out, then I will just fly up to my publisher in NY and bedazzle the covers with sparkly rhinestones and glitter.
14. What are some ways in which you promote your work?
On Facebook and Twitter, like most authors these days. I also enjoy visiting schools, teaching workshops at libraries, and have spoken on panels and at conferences. I do signings at bookstores after the book comes out, and enjoy blog interviews like these. J
15. What is the one thing you would do differently now (concerning writing or editing or publishing or illustrating) and why?
As I mentioned above, I won’t waste time getting fixated on the first few chapters. Move forward is my new motto.
16. What would you like carved onto your tombstone? Or what saying or mantra do you live by?
Buy more post-its. Just kidding. Take pride in how far you have come, have faith in how far you can go, and remember to have fun!
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