Special Guest Friday: Tiffany Trent!

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Our guest today is Tiffany Trent, author of the acclaimed Hallowmere series for young adults. Like many of us, she caught the bug to write after corresponding with a famous author (in Tiffany’s case, it was the amazing Madeleine L’Engle!) and realising that authors were real people. Please welcome Tiffany Trent!

What attracted you to writing for young adults?

It’s what I love to read. The books I always return to are young adult. I appreciate the clean, tight writing required for a young adult book, and the challenge of writing for readers who are less patient and more demanding of me. That isn’t to say that adult books are easy to write—not by a long shot!—but these are some of the things I’ve seen in today’s young adult section that really appeal to me as a writer.

Which came first for you – the agent or the book contract? What tips would you offer to new writers trying to break in?

The book contract. And that was kind of a fluke, actually. And getting my first agent was also a bit of a fluke. But my current agent I got through the standard query process and I’m extremely happy with her.

My tips:

-Be patient. With yourself and other people. It may take months; it may take years. But the only way you will get to publication is to be patient and persist. Craft the best book you can, learn to enjoy being around people in the publishing world, and find the agent who’s perfect for your work.

-There is never only one chance. Lots of us seem to have this publish or perish thing going on. I’ve seen far too many desperate first-timers at conventions bullying agents or editors, and the stink of desperation on them is just really pitiful. Relax! Be confident! All that fussing does no one any good. (I know, because I was the same way). If this novel doesn’t work out, then the next one will. Or the next one. Keep trying and be ready when the chance does come.

Do you think living in the coastal south, with its rich history of folklore, has an affect on your storytelling? Is there anything in the lore of the Carolinas that you’d like to add to your own work someday?

I’ve only lived on the coastal South for about five months now, but I’ve loved it pretty much all my life. It definitely has an influence. My first novels were inspired by the Gullah culture in South Carolina’s Low Country and I’d love to keep writing more coastal southern gothic, as it were. So much richness there! I’m playing with pirates right now because I live in the Graveyard of the Atlantic—I’m quite certain Blackbeard used to sail past my house! But, there’s still so much to explore; I’m sure I’ve barely tapped the surface.

What are you reading these days?

Just finished Rick Riordan’s Sea of Monsters, the second in the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series. Also have just read an ARC of the awesomely angst-ridden Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater and envy-inspiring drafts by Holly Black and Caitlin Kittredge. Am desperate to get hold of Gordon Dahlquist’s The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters, Vol. II—the first book absolutely captivated me!

Reading your bio, it’s clear you love to travel. What are some places you’ve never been that you’d love to visit? How about some fictional places you’d like to see?

I’d love to visit the South Pacific: Palau, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea…Such fascinating cultures and critters there. We have friends in Sumatra and I’m dying to go there for a visit and see one of the last Sumatran tigers!

I have plans to visit London this year for a novel I’m working on, but wish I could also go to Europe, esp. some of the Eastern European countries like Hungary and Poland.

I posted my top five fantastical destinations here http://tltrent.livejournal.com/587869.html

But if you don’t feel like clicking:

1. Moria in LoTR. It’s kind of a tossup between Lothlorien and Moria, actually, but ruins fascinate me. Honestly, when the torchlight shone on Moria in the LoTR movie, I choked up.

2. The guest palace in Damar. I loved all that blue. Corlath was an extra bonus. 😉

3. The Emerald City. I always wanted to ride a Horse of a Different Color.

4. Gormenghast. As long as I could leave whenever I felt like it.

5. The Garden in The Last Battle. So beautiful and secret…

And I’d have to stop off at Od’s Magic School, too, I think. And maybe Wonderland, just to dance the Lobster Quadrille…Hmmmm.

What’s on your horizon?

Revising a steampunk YA that will go on submission as soon as I’m done. J

And of course, the most important question…pirates or ninjas?

Pirate ninjas. Just because I can’t choose.

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10 comments to Special Guest Friday: Tiffany Trent!

  • Tiffany, you write beautifully even here on the blog. Thank you so much for answering some questions! Pirate ninjas! Yes!

  • Pirate ninjas are indeed cool, but could spin the world into a paradox. Wait, do we group up or fight alone in secret? Together, alone, together, alone, aaarrgghh! (poof!) 😉

    I never really got into YA. It just felt too simplistic for me when I started reading. Of course, IIRC, there wasn’t as much YA fiction out in my Teen years and much of it was Valley High type stuff, but I still think I would have passed it up for Michael Moorcock’s Elric saga or Tad Williams’s Dragonbone Chair, Thieves’ World or the Shannara series. I’ve always liked a little more complexity in my tales.

  • Great to see you here, Tiffany! Thanks for guest blogging at Magical Words. Your advice to beginning writers, and the optimism implied in it, is great. Can you tell us a bit more about your efforts to get published and what you went through in the earliest days of your career? What do you think was the single greatest obstacle you had to overcome?

  • Faith – Thanks so much for hosting me; I really appreciate it!

    Daniel – Well, I suppose I should qualify that the YA I was reading was stuff like Madeleine L’Engle, Robin McKinley, and Lloyd Alexander. I don’t really know if they were shelved as YA (or the older term “juvenile”), and I certainly didn’t think of them that way. Probably the closest thing I read to Sweet Valley High were the Black Stallion and Flame books by Walter Farley (and then only b/c I looooooved horses). And of course I was into Tolkien and Tad Williams and DragonLance…I’m just thinking that authors I really loved–L’Engle, McKinley, etc.–are seen as YA now.

    David – Tiffany: The Early Years? *g* I think we actually talked about this over dinner many moons ago at some long-distant SheVaCon. I had this whopping epic fantasy that I loved desperately and had worked on literally since I hit puberty (though I pray it evolved for the better over time!). I loved that world and those characters so much that they were really all I thought about. It ended up with a senior editor at a major publisher who ultimately rejected it. It was heartbreaking at the time, but looking back it was really the best that could have possibly happened. It freed me to expand my range, learn the publishing world, and take a huge breath of fresh air creatively. So, I guess that’s why I try to remind people that there’s never only one chance. Literally a month after I got rejected for that book, I had a book deal for a ten-book series. That could only happen when I let go of that first novel and allowed other stories to enter.

    I also should add that I wasted a lot of time not writing what I loved–fantasy–because my literary-minded (if well-meaning) professors made me feel very ashamed to “waste my talents” on genre. Finally, I decided that if I couldn’t stop writing it, then I might as well stop listening to the naysayers. I’m really glad I did.

  • Tom Gallier

    Yeah, ninja pirates (who sail up behind you in the darkest of nights) sound cool. But what if they were also all WEREWOLVES? Now we have an open-ocean Urban Fantasy, with sales (Sails?) to make Kim Harrison green with werewolf envy.

    It could be the beer talking, though, but I don’t think so.

    Enjoyed the guest post. Not into YA myself (though I love the Harry Potter stuff) but I probably should open my horizons.

  • Kristin Hearn

    Great interview! Was wondering when Marsh King’s Daughter will be released? I’ve looked everywhere for it, can not find anything! I read Black Water Baby… GREAT, just wished it kept going, of course! Thanks Tiffany!

  • Tom – Hopefully werewolf biologists are enough? (Working on that story right now…)

    Kristin – Unfortunately, there will be no Marsh King’s Daughter, though I’m so glad you loved “Blackwater Baby.” I *might* offer MKD on my Web site eventually as a freebie, if I possibly can. Stay tuned!

  • Kristin Hearn

    Thank you Tiffany! Looking forward to your future writings!

  • Jillian

    Tiffany whats happened to your series Hallowmere, im desperately waiting to know what happens next?

  • Eve

    Tiffany if you don’t mind me asking, why won’t there be a Marsh king’s Daughter? I love the Hallowmere series and i can’t stand not knowing what happens next.