Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Cornucopia of Dystopia: Guest Post by Ann Aguirre (Enclave)

Ann Aguirre is a national bestselling author with a degree in English Literature; before she began writing full time, she was a clown, a clerk, a voice actress, and a savior of stray kittens, not necessarily in that order. She grew up in a yellow house across from a cornfield, but now she lives in sunny Mexico with her husband, children, two cats, and one very lazy dog. She likes all kinds of books, emo music, action movies and Dr. Who. She writes urban fantasy (the Corine Solomon series), romantic science fiction (the Jax series), apocalyptic paranormal romance (the Ellen Connor books with Carrie Lofty), paranormal romantic suspense (as Ava Gray), and post-apocalyptic dystopian young adult fiction.

From author's website.

I noticed in your Goodreads bio that you had quite an eclectic range of careers before becoming a full-time writer. Can you tell us about your journey on the road to becoming a published author? Did you always know you wanted to write? What led you to the other careers you tried out (a clown, a clerk, a voice actress, and a savior of stray kittens)? What experiences were instrumental in bringing you to where you are today?

My road to becoming a published author was long. Ever so long. It started well enough. When I was eight, I wrote a story for a school writing competition called THE MYSTERY OF THE GOLDEN DOUBLOON. This seminal, self-illustrated work was about two best friends who went to Florida on vacation and busted an illegal treasure hunting ring. I won the contest. I went to the state finals and met Shel Silverstein, who read to a bunch of us from WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS. In that moment, sitting on my square of carpet, I thought, they pay him for his words. this is what I want to do. Later that same year, my teacher told me writing wasn't a real job and I should pick something else. As it turns out, I am stubborn beyond the point of common sense, as I never did choose another career.

I wrote my first novel at fifteen. I sent it to NY. At sixteen I got my first rejection. This pattern continued at nineteen, and again at twenty-one, although I did interest an agent that early. Unfortunately, the historical romance I had written was too dark for the market, though the editors all agreed I could write and that I had talent. I wrote more. In the meantime I got married and had some babies. I kept writing. More rejections. I hit my thirties, signed with an agent, and got more rejections. By this point, I had, oh, eight books that had been rejected. In utter despair, I wrote a SF novel. I decided, you know, if I'm never going to sell, then I am going to write the novel I want to read. I'm going to write for myself, for fun, for pleasure, and without regard for market. The result wasGrimspace. Unfortunately, my agent at the time thought it sounded unsellable. I had to choose between my book and my agent. It was a terrible decision, but I believe so strongly in that project that I gave notice. I went back to cold querying. I was 36 by this point. My current agent pulled me out of the slush pile--and that was the start of a really magical career.

Laura Bradford is a romance specialist. (I thought I'd written a romance with futuristic elements. Turns out, no.) But she lovedGrimspace so much, she learned the market, just for me. She said, "I've never sold SF but I want the challenge, so if you're okay with that, I'm offering you representation at this time." I chose passion and enthusiasm over experience. I signed with her on March 31, 2007. We pitched Grimspace on April 11, my husband's birthday. Within a couple of weeks, we had a nibble. An editor loved it and was taking it to acquisitions. She updated the rest of the editors, who were then motivated to read faster. Before we heard from the first editor, we had an offer from Anne Sowards. Since she's my dream editor--she edits so many people I've read and admired--I cried in excitement and disbelief. This sale was over twenty years in the making, closer to thirty if you count the story I wrote when I was eight. We accepted the offer at once, and since then, we've sold over twenty projects together in the last four years.

As for my eclectic careers, they were all born out of necessity, to be honest, because I never wanted to do anything but write. It's been a long time since I had a day job, and it's my plan to write for the rest of my life. Believe me, I know how lucky I am to be living my dream at long last.

Thanks so much to Ann for taking the time to share her journey with us!

For more about this author, please visit:

Leave a thoughtful comment on this guest post for an extra entry in my ENCLAVE GIVEAWAY! I'm reading it right now, and this is a story you don't want to miss! Review coming this week.

New York City has been decimated by war and plague, and most of civilization has migrated to underground enclaves, where life expectancy is no more than the early 20's. When Deuce turns 15, she takes on her role as a Huntress, and is paired with Fade, a teenage Hunter who lived Topside as a young boy. When she and Fade discover that the neighboring enclave has been decimated by the tunnel monsters—or Freaks—who seem to be growing more organized, the elders refuse to listen to warnings. And when Deuce and Fade are exiled from the enclave, the girl born in darkness must survive in daylight, in the ruins of a city whose population has dwindled to a few dangerous gangs. As the two are guided by Fade’s long-ago memories, they face dangers, and feelings, unlike any they’ve ever known.


Cath said...

I have heard some great things about this book and I really want to read it!!
The interview was great, thanks for the insights into your journey to get published.
Best of luck with the book :)

krazzyme said...

Hmm... ALL BLOGS I FOLLOW seem to <3 this book.So I'm really getting excited about it :D

Lauren M said...

Aw, your eighth grade story sounds so cute (but awesome at the same time)! I love the fact that you didn't give up on writing. It sure payed off! :)

ashelynn sanford said...

That is an awesome agent story. How cool is it to say that my agent took a risk with me because she loved my project so much even though she never sold a sci-fi?

So awesome.

Cari said...

I'm looking forward to this one.

LilMissMolly said...

I am seeing this book everywhere! I want to read it now.

Melissa (My words and pages) said...

Oh, this is a wonderful post from Ann. :) I have to say I'm so glad Laura learned the market for her as Ann's books are on the top of my fav list. :) Thank you!

Ana Lucia said...

Great story, sounds like a movie :)I admire the fact that you and your agent chose take a risk chose passion and enthusiasm over experience.

Jessy said...

I'm glad Anne didn't give up on writing. It had to be tough to wait that long to get published.

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