Interview (YA Style!) With Victoria Schwab!
Warning: If you don’t like swearing, please don’t read the following. Nicole Peeler drops f-bombs like she’s a fucking bomber during the fucking blitz. It’s a fucking travesty! Needs her mouth washed out with fucking soap, she does . . .
Nicole: Well, hello everybody! Welcome to YA Week here at the League! I’ve been intrigued by how many UF and Para-Rom writers are now writing YA (including many of our residents here in the League Asylum), and I want to understand what’s the pull. After all . . . you can’t fucking swear as much when you write YA! You may not have noticed, but I have a bit of a potty mouth, and my mind is boggled by the idea of not fucking swearing! How can people NOT SWEAR? Is it just me? I mean, “drat” or “shucky darns” is NOT cutting it for me, people.
To help me explore these issue, I’ve invited the lovely and vivacious Victoria Schwab. She’s going to tell us about her own journey to YA authordom, and maybe she’ll help me locate my OWN vat of inner YA aspirations . . . Fuck yeah! Let’s rock this shit!
Hi Victoria! First of all, can you tell us a little about yourself?
Victoria: I'm a 22-year-old YA author, and I write magical realism/fantasy. My stories are based in a world very much like, if not identical to this one, as opposed to one requiring a map. I distinguish between my kind of fantasy and paranormal, mostly because my stories have a bit more of a fairy-tale feel.
Nicole: That sounds awesome, Victoria. Really FUCKING awesome.
Victoria: Haha, why yes it is! Or at least I think so. I just kind of write the books I want to write, and then hope to hell other people want to read them, too!
Nicole: Now what can you tell us about your awesome fucking project?
Victoria: The aforementioned ‘awesome fucking project’ is called The Near Witch, and it's about a small village (named Near) in which a stranger arrives one night, and on subsequent nights the children of the village begin to disappear. Here's the unofficial pitch:
There’s an old ghost story in the town of Near. It tells of a Witch that lived on the edge of the village, and gobbled up all the darkness, and sang the hills to sleep, and loved the children almost as much as the garden she kept beside her house.
Sixteen-year-old Lexi Harris, the daughter of a tracker, has heard the stories her entire life, first from her father, and then from old Magda and Dreska, who might be Witches themselves. Everyone loves to tell the story, but everyone knows a different ending. Some say that the Near Witch blew away on a gust of wind. Others tell of darker things. Of murders and curses and buried bones.
To Lexi, they’ve always been stories, nothing more. But when a strange and silent boy walks into the village of Near, and then the wind begins to lure children from their beds at night, she starts to wonder if there’s any truth in them. Could the Near Witch be more than a ghost story?
Nicole: That sounds so cool! I love that title! Did you ever consider calling it The Near Fucking Witch? Or The Fucking Near Witch?
Victora: Well, Fucking Witch would have been a different genre altogether! And Fucking Near Witch sounds kind of aggressive. :p So I decided to keep it simple.
Nicole: Huh. Good point on “Fucking Witch” and genre expectations, I’ll have to keep that in mind. I ran into similar troubles when I proposed, Jane Does Rockabill, as the title of my own first book. Then I hit on, Tempest Rising Right The Fuck Up Out Of That Water, but Orbit thought that lacked a little . . . je ne sais quoi. Which is French for “fucking something.” Anyway . . . How did you know you wanted to write Y fucking A fiction?
Victoria: I didn't really want to write YA, or rather I didn't know that I did. I just started writing stories. After some fiddling, I figured out that my "voice", which I've been told has a lyrical quality to it (due in part to a background in poetry) lent itself well to fairy tales and stories with a more timeless/whimsical feel. I didn't know I was writing YA until my agent told me so. :p
But now that I'm here in the YA world, I wouldn't dream of leaving. I have so much fun, and the readers and bloggers are the more enthusiastic and supportive bunch in the world. I feel right at home.
Nicole: That’s really fucking interesting about the tone defining your genre rather than your intention defining your genre. I’m thinking that might preclude me from writing YA . . . my tone is a bit fucking adult, and shit. What else makes YA different from adult fiction, do you fucking think?
Victoria: I'm probably not the best person to answer this, given the above answer, but I'll say the immediacy of the story. In YA, the story has to grab you, the voice has to be strong, in order for readers to stay engaged. You can't get away with meandering prose and you don't have room to sit and wax poetic. If you like your writing pretty and lyrical, as I do, you'd better find a way to pull it off and keep the reader from getting bored.
Nicole: Fascinating. Really . . . fucking fascinating. How about me, then, Victoria? Would you call my tone lyrical?
Victoria: Haha I’d call it more staccato, as compared to poetic. But the key is voice. You definitely have a defined one of those!
Nicole: You are fucking sweet, you are. Glad to have you here. Okay then . . . moving on. Do you think there’s anything that’s off-limits in YA? Besides fucking swearing.
Victoria: I don't think so, to be honest. Maybe writers of realistic YA will weigh in differently, but I have yet to find a topic or aspect of adult fiction that's totally off-limits in YA. It just has to be done well, and it has to be authentic. The worst thing in YA is a book that pulls punches, and the second worst is a preachy one.
Nicole: True fucking dat. I hate a fucking preachy book. They’re the dogs bollocks. All right . . . here’s my last fucking question. What do you think is the next big thing in YA?
Victoria: Witches, of course! But in all seriousness, I think witches have a shot at being the big thing for 2011. One thing that's wonderful about them is that unlike some of the other classic mythological-creatures-turned-hot-things, there are so many different ways to write witches. In my book a witch's powers are very element-centric, with wood witches and wind witches and stone witches. But I am friends with three other authors who've written witchy books, and they've all taken on witches very differently. So if witches DO get to be the next big thing, at least there will be some creative and varied interpretations.
Nicole: Witches are the shit! That’s fo’ sho’. So . . . now that we’ve talked, what do you think my chances are of making into young adult fiction?
Victoria: Hmm, I think you’d do fine, as long as you have a plot to go with that potty mouth!
Nicole: That is great advice! And speaking of plot, I DID just come up with a great idea! But I’ve taken up enough of your time. Thank you so much for being with me here in the League Lounge, Victoria. I very much look forward to reading your debut! Congrats again!
And that concludes today’s interview. Stay tuned for Friday, when Nicole runs her Amazing Plot Idea past her next victim . . . I mean, interviewee, Courtney Allison Moulton. Lovely Jubbly! Fuckity-bye!