Interview: Chelsea Pitcher, Author of the S-Word!

June 24, 2012 at 12:00 pm (Interviews) (, , , )

Hello again, lovelies! Please say hello to our guest today, the ever-cool Chelsea Pitcher, author of the forthcoming The S-Word, and one of my own agent-sisters. Before we dive in, here’s a little bit about the book.

First it was SLUT scribbled all over Lizzie Hart’slocker.

But one week after Lizzie kills herself, SUICIDE SLUT replaces it—in Lizzie’s looping scrawl.

Lizzie’s reputation is destroyed when she’s caught in bed with her best friend’s boyfriend on prom night. With the whole school turned against her, and Angie not speaking to her, Lizzie takes her own life. But someone isn’t letting her go quietly. As graffiti and photocopies of Lizzie’ sdiary plaster the school, Angie begins a relentless investigation into who, exactly, made Lizzie feel she didn’t deserve to keep living. And while sheclaims she simply wants to punish Lizzie’s tormentors, Angie’s own anguish over abandoning her best friend will drive her deep into the dark, twisted side of Verity High—and she might not be able to pull herself back out.

And here we go!

Okay, icebreaker question: who is your favorite superhero?

I’ve always been a fan of Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman. She’s witty, feisty, and just the right amount of wicked. Maybe not a traditional “hero,” but I much prefer characters that walk the line between good and evil. Anybody who’s 100% good or 100% evil will have a hard time keeping my attention.

First off, congratulations on selling your book! I’m sure this is a question that makes you cringe everytime you hear it, but where did the idea for The S-Word originate?

Well thank you! And don’t worry, since we’re pretty early in the process, I’m far from being sick of the question. Also, since so many things coalesced to inspire this novel, my plan is to give a different (but true) answer for as long as I can manage it.

So for you, my answer is . . .

VIGALANTES!

I feel like we live in a society obsessed with vigilantes. From Batman to Dexter, Veronica Mars to Revenge, we deal with our disappointments in the justice system by hoping someone cool, clever and kick-ass will step in and save us. But what does this over-reliance on heroes say about our society as a whole? And how does the quest for justice affect the vigilante herself?

And just like that, Angie was born—an amateur vigilante hell-bent on taking a stand against the bullies at her school, but wholly unaware of how easily morality can shift in the quest for justice, or how quickly the hero can slide into villain territory.

Wow- sounds like a grey area I can’t wait to explore! Can you tell us about how you signed with our fabulous Sandy Lu?

Sandy picked me the old-fashioned way—out of the slushpile!!

I started querying for THE S-WORD in early 2011, using sites like AgentQuery.com tofind agents who represented my genres. (THE S-WORD is realistic, but I also write urban fantasy, so I wanted to find someone who might be interested in representing my career as a whole, rather than just one book.) Sandy seemed to fit the bill, and I loved what she had to say in an interview on GuideToLiteraryAgents.com. I queried her, along with a few others, and she requested within a few days (she was the first!)

A few months later, she called to offer representation. Wegot along instantly, and after she compared my book favorably to Veronica Mars, I was hooked! I signed with her that week, and I’m so happy that I did!

So are we! Now, everyone has their little quirks and habits that affect what they do. What is a perfect day of writing like for you?

I like to do long stretches of writing. Getting a thousandwords in here and there is fine, but I find I work best when I can devote several hours in a day to getting some serious work done. On my best days, I’ve done around 7,000 words (this is rare), and I feel like writing without interruption gets the best flow going.

Also, if I could be outdoors, in the sun, somewhere peacefuland quiet, that would be fantastic (and also rare!)

I’m the same way- I like to camp out and let the whole day pass by with my mind in my own little world. Is there anything you have to have while you’re writing? Lucky pen, lucky drink, lucky weather?

I prefer to be heavily caffeinated. If I can get just the right amount (triple soy caramel latte, anyone?) I find my subconscious takes over and I don’t even think about what I’m writing. It’s pretty much as close to automatic writing as I can get, and it tends to yield the best fruit.

Mmmm, caffeine…

What about a writer’s life has surprised you most since you got your book deal?

Publishing is an interesting business, because for a longtime things are moving at a snail’s pace, and you’re just writing, rewriting, editing, querying,checking your email obsessively, er . . . a usual amount of times. And then suddenly

EVERYTHING IS HAPPENING ALL AT ONCE.

It takes some getting used to, and you really have to be self-motivated—promoting your book online, working on new projects, etc.— when things are happening behind the scenes, because you don’t want to be fooled by a false sense of downtime!

So then what about a writer’s life has been the most gratifying?

The fact that my favorite thing to do and my career can actually be the same thing. It’s kind of amazing.

I think that’s the dream for most of us, right there. But, writers are also readers (usually voracious ones). What book or books most influenced you as a reader or writer?

So many books!!! But you were expecting that, weren’t you?So I’ll pick out a few:

James Howe’s BUNNICULA for hilarious character development and the creation of the Original Vegetarian Vampire.

Lloyd Alexander’s THE CHRONICLES OF PRYDAIN for adventure, self-actualization, and a hilarious heroine.

Francesca Lia Block’s DANGEROUS ANGELS and Holly Black’s MODERN FAERIE TALES for being game-changers in the fields of magical realism and urban fantasy.

You get to corral a gaggle of fellow YA authors into a single space: what’s the space, and what do you do?

I’d take everybody to one of the islands where they filmed Mama Mia. No, seriously, have you seen that movie? Those islands are GORGEOUS, and I’ve always wanted to go to Greece. So we go there, do some swimming, writing, celebrating. Everybody’s happy, and telling all kinds of interesting stories. Win-win.

Oh, that sounds amazing. Greek islands and stories? Sign me up! We’d need something to read on the flight, though. What is your most anticipated read of 2012?

I’m really excited to read Francesca Lia Block’s THE ELEMENTALS and Michael Underwood’s GEEKOMANCY. I’m a long-time fan ofFrancesca’s, and GEEKOMANCY was pitched as Clerks meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer—how could you go wrong?

Okay, laaaaaast question: what was it like, that moment when you found out your book had sold?

Pure, unadulterated shock.

I was at my parents’ house when Sandy called, and I went into their laundry room to get some privacy. Sandy had just gotten back into town after being on leave, so I told myself she might just be calling to check in with her clients. And even after she started to tell me about THE S-WORD climbing the chain at Gallery Books, I kept expecting her to stop at some point and say, “So now it’s doing to second reads/acquisitions/etc.”

Eventually it dawned on me that the book had made it all the way to the top, and from there the shock transformed into joy. And that’s pretty much how it’s been ever since: moments of shock and disbelief, broken up intermittently by giddiness!

Thank you so much for having me!

Chelsea Pitcher

Thanks for dropping by, Chelsea, and congratulations again!

And keep an eye out for The S-Word, out in stores January 2013.

Until next time~
Cheers!

5 Comments

  1. Chelsea Pitcher (@Chelsea_Pitcher) said,

    Yay, thanks for the interview! It was a blast!! :)

  2. Emma Pass said,

    Fantastic interview, Chelsea and Dot!

  3. Rachel S. said,

    Awesome interview! I can’t wait to read your book! Sooo proud of you :)

  4. Sandy Lu (@sandylunyc) said,

    Great interview! It is my honor and pleasure to represent both of you.

  5. Chelsea Pitcher (@Chelsea_Pitcher) said,

    Thanks for the lovely comments!!!

    Sandy, it’s my pleasure to be represented by you!!

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