Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Welcome to “Up Close & Personal.” For every interview I will be introducing a literary personality discussing her views and insights, as well as upcoming literary events around the world.
Today’s interview is with Tanya Lee Stone, author of teen, young adult fiction, picture books, and children's nonfiction.
E.I. :Welcome, and thank you for stopping by Ms. Stone. Please tell us more about Tanya Lee Stone -- the woman behind the author.
TLS: Well, let's see, what would you like to know? I've been a bookie (one who is addicted to books) since I was a kid. My mother is a retired librarian and my father is also a writer. After college, I took a job as an editor, which I adored--and I did that for 13 years. That's when we moved away from a publishing hub and I decided to try my hand as a writer.
E. I. Would you please tell your fans a little about your writing background and what it took to sell your first book?
TLS: I was an English major at Oberlin College and wrote a lot of mediocre papers. I learned the skill of revision during those years, which was only reinforced during my editorial years. I always wrote for myself--journaling, etc.--but when I started writing toward publication my revision skills really became paramount to honing my writing skills. My first sale is not a typical story. As an editor, I had been developing ideas for books, and hiring writers to write them, for several years. When I had to leave my job for our move, I asked the my publisher if he might consider letting me try to write one of the books I had developed. Happily, he said yes, and they were happy with my efforts.
E. I. Was your first book written before, or after you landed the book deal? Did you or your agent approach a publisher, or vice versa?
TLS: We tackled this in the previous question, so I will add some bigger picture information. I did not have an agent for many years, and published many books with multiple publishers on my own. This was in part because of how I entered the business. But as time went on, my work changed and I began to write fiction and more creative nonfiction. That was when I decided I needed an agent to help me navigate my changing career.
E. I. Do you let anyone read your manuscript, before you send it to your editor?
TLS: Yes. I have two or three trusted readers. We read for each other when asked. I highly, highly, highly recommend writers have some kind of support system--whether it's a critique group, or just one or two trusted readers. And by trusted, I mean people who are able to read with a critical eye and give constructive criticism kindly.
E. I. Is research one of your favorite parts of writing your book? Share with us some of your favorite "discoveries" --- of any kind --- when you were researching for one of your books.
TLS: I must confess--I absolutely love research. It's taken me so many places--the inside of a harbor seal tank (alongside with the seals), behind the scenes at a snowboard factory, and my all-time favorite--conducting interviews with the fascinating people I'm profiling. Right now I'm working on a book for readers 10 and up about the Mercury 13 women, who began astronaut training in 1961 until the plug was pulled on their program. I've been interviewing many of the women, as well as some of the researchers involved with the program at the time. And I'm about to fly out to a conference where 7 of these ladies will be meeting with me. That book, Almost Astronauts, will be out in 2009.
E.I. Please tell us about your latest book A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl and how did you come up with the title?
TLS: The title was the first thing that hit me. I was listening to a lecture and the speaker said two phrases within a minute of each other: "bad boys" and "good girls." Immediately, my brain put them together and I scrawled my title in my notebook, realizing I had a lot to say about what that title might mean. I started writing the book that afternoon.
E.I. What can we expect from your characters Josie, Nicolette and Aviva? How much of their life is planned out in your head? How do you know where you will go next with them or with any of your characters?
TLS: I'm not planning on revisiting those characters in another book at this time. But in A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl, you can expect that each of these girls will follow their paths to satisfying conclusions, and come out the wiser in the end. But expect plenty of bumps, hard choices, and steamy scenes along the way.
E. I. Can you tell your fans a little about your writing schedule, editing and revision process, and novel development etc.? How long does it take you to write a story?
TLS: Every book is different for me. Some come out slowly, revealing themselves in bits and pieces. Others come quickly. Bad Boy was a fast one for me; I think I wrote the whole thing in about 9 months.
In terms of my writing schedule, I write every day for varying amounts of time, but always between the hours of 8 am and 3 pm. Then again late at night, if something strikes me.
E.I. What are your favorite books? What qualities in them appeal to you?
TLS: The Basil and Josephine Stories is a book I revisit time and time again, mainly for the beauty of the writing. F. Scott Fitzgerald strings words together like pearls. Childhood favorites included A Wrinkle in Time and A Phantom Tollbooth because of the limitless possibilities they implied. I read constantly, different books for different reasons.
E.I. What can fans look forward to from you in the coming months?
TLS: Well, I had a biography of Amelia Earhart come out in January 2007. The paperback of A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl (with a new sexy cover) will be released on June 12, 2007--just around the corner! And in 2008, slated to come out are Elizabeth Leads the Way (about Elizabeth Cady Stanton) and a YA biography of Ella Fitzgerald.
E.I. Would you like to end your interview with a writing tip or advice for young aspiring writers?
TLS: Although it's cliche, it's important--read, read, read and write, write, write. There's no substitute! Also, don't think about product--meaning, publication--as you write. Think only of process, story, character. Worry about selling your work later. All that other stuff is too distracting to the creative process.
E.I. Ms. Stone, I appreciate your effort to fit me into your schedule. So great for you to do the interview. Thank you so much.
TLS: Thanks so much for having me, E.I.!
To learn more about Tanya Lee Stone, please visit her at:
Posted by E. I. Johnson at 12:48 AM