Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Amazing Q&A with an Amazing author...

Sulari Gentill, author of the terrific YA novel Chasing Odysseus has done a Q&A with me for this very blog! How terrific is that? TERRIFIC that's how terrific!
As you're all dying to start reading her answers and not my chatter I'm sure; here it is! Enjoy and thank you ever so much Sulari!

*How long did it take you to write Chasing Odysseus? (From the beginning and then once you had the whole idea)

Chasing Odysseus took me about 12 weeks to write, start to finish.  I write very quickly and quite obsessively, once I have an idea.  Of course I’ve changed bits and fiddled with it several times since then, but the first draft came together in a bit of an explosion.

*Did you always want to be a writer?

In a way…I’ve always wanted to write but I think for a long time I wasn’t sure that I could.  Being a writer was, to me, a bit like being a movie star…yes of course it would be wonderful but it didn’t seem a realistic ambition.  When I did start writing however, I knew immediately that I wouldn’t be happy doing anything else.  It was what I was supposed to do.

*How many times have you read the Odyssey?

It’s hard to tell…from start to finish – maybe just once at least, but there are bits of it that I’ve read over and over.  I don’t tend to re-read entire books…I just go straight to my favourite parts and re-read those.

*How long did it take you to find a publisher?

A Few Right Thinking Men, which was my first published work, was signed by Pantera Press about nine months after it was finished.  There were other publishers interested in the manuscript but Pantera was the best fit for me.  They really are an amazing publishing house.  I was phenomenally lucky, both with my publisher and the time it took me to find one…there are authors who spend decades looking for a publisher…it just so happened that I found my way to Pantera within a year. 

*Did you use an agent?

No…I did try to get an agent.  I was rejected by almost every agent in Australia and a few in New Zealand as well.  It was horrible.  No matter how many times I’d been told not to take it personally, I was hurt and embarrassed every time…but I kept submitting, because writing is not a job for the faint-hearted.  When I had exhausted every possible agent, I decided to just go straight to the publishers. All of a sudden I was receiving letters of interest from all over the place.  I chose the publisher who shared my vision for the books and who I could see myself working with for a long time…and who had a sense of humour…I don’t think I could cope with people who couldn’t see the funny side of things.

I still don’t have an agent.  I do have a really wonderful working relationship with my publishers.  I have input into every aspect of the publication of my books, which is surprisingly unusual.  Being a lawyer by trade, I can deal with the legal contractual side myself, and a year and a half on from actually signing, I couldn’t be happier.  I can understand how an agent would help some authors, but in my own particular situation, I’m happy without one.

*What is one of the most important things to you in life?

Other than my family and friends…my animals, who I suppose are both friend and family. Writing can be really consuming and animals are completely undemanding in their companionship.  My novels have all been written with a dog on my feet.  You may have noticed that Chasing Odysseus is dedicated to my sons, but also, to my dog, Oggsford.  She was tragically killed last year, just after my first book was launched.  One of those things…but I still miss her. 

*What does your family think of you being an author?

  • My sons want parts in the movie.
  • I think my husband is still a little stunned by the whole thing…it seemed to happen very quickly…poor man thought he’d married a lawyer.
  • My Dad’s pretty chuffed…he starts conversations with perfect strangers by asking “Do you read?” …just so he can tell them about my book.  It can be a tad embarrassing but it’s kind of sweet.
  • My sisters are watching to see what mad thing I try to do next.

*What was one of your first jobs?

When I was in high school I was a Christmas casual for Australia post.  I worked the midnight shift sorting mail.  It sounds horrible but at the time, it was fun.  You meet some quite interesting people on the graveyard shift.

*Are you excited about Chasing Odysseus being published? Are you counting down until the 7th of March?

Yes, I am.  But I’m trying to be grown-up about it and not jump up and down too much.  I’m a little nervous too.

*What tips could you give to anyone who writes?

Don’t be afraid. 

*What are your favourite books?

The Dark is Rising sequence by Susan Cooper
The Anne of Green Gables series…especially Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Importance of Being Ernest by Oscar Wilde
The Illiad and the Odyssey…both originally by Homer
The Year God’s Daughter by Rebecca Lochlann…it hasn’t been published yet but one day I think it will take the world by storm.

*What inspires you the most?

Funny things…life’s little absurdities.  Loyalty, courage, and small acts of kindness.

*Who can you relate to the most in Chasing Odysseus?

Pan.  In another time, I think I would have been a follower of Pan.

*How is Trying War coming along? Are you working on anything else?

Trying War is going well.  I’ve really started to focus on it in the last week or so…I’ve just sent off the third manuscript in my other series so the decks are cleared to really concentrate on Trying War.  I’m hoping to have the manuscript substantially drafted before Chasing Odysseus is launched on the 7th of March.

I’m also playing with a notion I have for a ghost story, and another ancient Greek series as well as thinking about the third book in the Hero trilogy…and some new idea will probably come to mind next week.   I’m easily distracted.

*What does the D in S.D. mean?

D is my middle initial…it stands for Dharshini which is a Sanskrit name (To tell the truth I hate it).  It means “beautiful” I think…Nobody names their daughter “ugly” I guess.

*Why did you choose to have your name written on Chasing Odysseus as S.D Gentill and not just Sulari Gentill?

At the moment I write in two really distinct eras and styles.  The Rowland Sinclair series is adult crime fiction set in Australia in the 1930s.  The Hero series is young adult, mythical fiction, set in Greece over three and a half thousand years ago.  Using the slightly different versions of my name just helped me compartmentalise in my own mind these two aspects of my writing career…that’s the sensible answer anyway.

To be completely honest, it was a bit of a whim.  I liked the way S.D. Gentill looked on the cover.

*Did you do the artwork for the cover of Chasing Odysseus?

I had a lot of input into the cover brief for Chasing Odysseus but the artwork itself was done by XOU Creative in consultation with Alison Green, the CEO of Pantera Press.  My favourite part of the publishing process is seeing what the designers come up with for the cover, and I particularly love this cover.  XOU also designed the book internally…though I think the motif of Pan has been derived from one of my original drawings.  I did all the artwork for the trailer.

Chasing Odysseus comes out on the 7th of March and you all must get it and read it as fast as you can as it is fantasticly amazing!
Thank you so much Sulari, I loved reading all of your answers!

Keep reading and Writing,

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