Today’s Author Interview is with young adult novelist Eric Devine, whose second novel, TAP OUT, was released in September 2012 from Running Press.
Also the author of This Side of Normal, Eric Devine is a high school English teacher and education consultant. who married his high school sweetheart, and together are raising their two daughters in Upstate, NY. Eric is represented by Kate McKean of the Howard Morhaim Literary Agency and is currently working with editor, Lisa Cheng, on his next YA novel with Running Press.
What is the book’s genre/category?
TAP OUT is Young Adult with a definite Adult crossover appeal.
Please describe what the story/book is about.
Tony Antioch’s struggle to find a way out of the crushing poverty of his trailer park, the violence of his mother’s abusive boyfriend, and the grip of its meth dealing inhabitants, while finding solace in the mixed martial arts community.
Any quick, notable praise for it to share?
From Kirkus Reviews: “This is bound to have huge appeal to kids whose lives are being mirrored, and it may prompt luckier readers to take some positive action.”
Where do you write from?
I live in Upstate, NY, just outside Albany.
Briefly, what led up to this book?
My first YA novel, This Side of Normal, was published by a small press in 2009 and I had been working with Kate McKean on another project for a year. That did not sell, and I struck on the premise for Tap Out after watching a group of students involved with MMA at my high school (English teacher). I combined my sense of their friendship with my knowledge of working with impoverished students and set the story in motion.
What was the time frame for writing this book?
The first draft of Tap Out took me close to a year. I have two young children, who were even younger then, and my time was limited to writing before work (roughly 5-7 am). Therefore, I outlined meticulously in order to be able to maintain the story threads, and have outlined in such a manner ever since.
How did you find your agent (and who is your agent)?
I found Kate McKean in the traditional way, blanket querying. I submitted over 100 queries for my manuscript and had a few interested agents, but Kate and I clicked and we’ve been working together ever since. She is my sounding board for all ideas, and her brilliance was crucial with pulling together Tap Out, and she has transformed my forthcoming novels.
What were your 1-2 biggest learning experience(s) or surprise(s) throughout the publishing process?
The time spent on revision and on the promotion. Before Tap Out, I had never worked with a professional editor. Fortunately, Lisa Cheng of Running Press was good to me, and asked pertinent questions of my writing that guided me into reworking my draft of Tap Out into the poignant story that rides beneath the violence and vulgarity.
Promotion is also something I had never done in any serious way. The learning curve on social media is steep, but the time spent pays dividends.
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Looking back, what did you do right that helped you break in?
I never gave up. I listened to critique without taking it personally. I believed I could do this, against the odds, and got up morning after morning, no excuses, and wrote.
On that note, what would you have done differently if you could do it again?
Have a better social media presence. I only had time to write, raise my kids, and then be a husband and teacher. I had no sense of the importance of Twitter et al. I would have preferred to have people know who I am before Tap Out was released.
Did you have a platform in place? On this topic, what are you doing the build a platform and gain readership?
I think I alluded to that in the pervious answer. In short, no. But I’m building a reputation as a straight-shooting, realistic YA writer because I blog and tweet and connect with other writers, librarians and readers on such topics, especially regarding boys and literature and how to connect the two.
Best piece(s) of advice for writers trying to break in?
Don’t be afraid to write awful material. I think fear thwarts most people. Push past that fear, be open-minded and work the craft diligently: read, write, repeat.
Something personal about you people may be surprised to know?
I’m afraid every time I start a new project. I don’t yet have the faith in myself that I know what I’m doing or how to repeat what I’ve done in the past. Possibly, this will never be alleviated.
Unfair question. Like with books, how do I whittle it down to one? I’ll go with Finding Nemo, because I am a father who will do anything to protect his children, and often they find me to be a terrible pain in the posterior.
Twitter. I find more links to so many places I’ve never heard of because of that network. Although, I do love Forever YA, Teen Librarian’s Toolbox and The Book Smugglers for reviews.
My YA novel, Dare Me, which is about a group of teens, who perform stunts on YouTube to gain popularity, but because of an unexpected financial offer, find their stunts morphing from fun and dangerous to outright death-defying.
Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:
- How to Find the Perfect Writing Spot.
- Literary Agent Interview: Jeff Ourvan of Jennifer Lyons Literary.
- How to Find Beta Readers and Peers to Review Your Book.
- Sell More Books by Building Your Writer Platform.
- Literary Agent Interview: Laura Bradford of Bradford Literary.
- Is Writing a Numbers Game? I Think So.
- Follow Chuck Sambuchino on Twitter or find him on Facebook. Learn all about his writing guides on how to get published, how to find a literary agent, and how to write a query letter.
Want to build your visibility and sell more books?
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I Will Speak At These Great Writing Events in 2012-2013:
- June 7-8: Clarksville Writers Conference (Clarksville, TN)
- June 22-24: Crested Butte Writers Conference (Crested Butte, CO)
- July 26-28: Midwest Writers Workshop (Muncie, IN)
- Aug. 2-8: Homeric Writers Retreat & Workshop (Isle of Ithaca, Greece)
- Sept. 13-14: Chicago Writers Conference (Chicago, IL)
- Feb. 14-17, 2013: San Francisco Writers Conference (San Francisco, CA)
- April 5-7. 2013: Writer’s Digest Conference East (New York, NY)
- April 19-20, 2013: Kentucky Writers Conference (Bowling Green, KY)
- May 17-19, 2013: PennWriters Conference (Pittsburgh, PA)
- May 23-26, 2013: Writers Guild of Alberta “Words in 3D” Event (Edmonton, Canada)
- June 6-7, 2013: Clarksville Writers Conference (Clarksville, TN)
- June 7-8, 2013: Carnegie Literary Center “Books-in-Progress Conference” (Lexington, KY)
- June 21-23, 2013: Agents & Editors Conference / Writers League of Texas (Austin, TX)