Today I have a guest post/interview with author Ann Angel. Her young adult biography “Janis Joplin: Rise Up Singing” is being published by Amulet Books and will be released on October 1. I asked Ann to share a bit about the road to publication and writing for a YA audience. Here’s what she had to say:
What was your road to publication like (for your first novel as well as Janis Joplin)?
While I was working on a masters in journalism, I worked as a stringer for The Milwaukee Sentinel and I began to submit work to regional magazines. Meanwhile, I was writing stories about adoption for my kids who were all adopted. Because there were no good kids books addressing adoption, I was encouraged to submit my stories as a middle grade novel to a small adoption/infertility/foster care publisher. Perspectives Press published the book with the title Real For Sure Sister.
After a few years of unsuccessfully trying to publish more fiction, I returned to school to earn an MFA in creative writing. Most of my publications since then have come through editors I met while I was in school or at conferences since then.
What has been the greatest moment as an author?
That’s a really tough question because I think I have the fortune of many great moments — the first book is always huge. But holding Such A Pretty Face, the anthology I edited amazing. Holding the finished copy of Janis Joplin, which took five years to research and write, still gives me this feeling as if I’ve got fireflies flitting around my heart. Teaching writing also offers plenty of great moments. When I see a writer have success, it feels almost like my own success.
When you were writing Janis Joplin, did you write for an intended audience?
I always kept in mind that I was writing for teenagers who might be inspired by Janis’s amazing voice and unique style and her ability to take creative risk.
What were you like as a teen? Did it have any influence over your decision tow rite for a YA audience?
I was pretty wild, but still a good kid, I think. I knew how to take risks but tried not to be too totally stupid because I wanted to survive my teens. I listened to Janis Joplin, the Doors, Jimmi Hendrix, the Who — I thought the Who were brilliant when they created Tommy, the first rock opera. I also read almost everything I could get my hands on and I wrote lots of really bad poetry and some pretty sappy short stories. I wanted to be a visual artist and/or writer but didn’t think this was a good career choice so I became an English teacher. Now that I look back, I realize I was setting myself up for the career I have as a teaching writer.
I found my teen years to be pretty intense — all that falling in love and feeling left out and wondering if anyone realized how truly stupid I felt made me revisit my teens again and again as a writer. I just think it’s the most intensely felt time for many.
If you could travel back in time for one year, what three things would you take with you?
A laptop, my family, and music.
What are you working on now? Can you tell us anything about it?
I’m working on a contemporary YA novel that tells the story of Echo and Pan.
Do you have any advice for upcoming writers?
I apologize for being totally cliche here but all the other writers get it when they say the only way to be a writer is to read a ton, write a ton and revise more than a ton.
Ann Angel is a professor in the English Department at Mount Mary College in Milwaukee, WI. She holds a MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She has published six books, including the upcoming “Janis Joplin: Rise Up Singing,” to be released On October 1, 2010. When she isn’t writing or teaching, she hangs with her family which includes her four grown kids, her husband Jeff, and a cat named Sparkie.