Monday, March 03, 2008

COVER AUTHOR: Paula Chase Hyman

Please give the readers a brief bio on you the person and the writer.

I'm a wife and mom of two daughters. For the past five years I've been coaching a competitive recreation cheer squad, which accounts for my high threshold for and exposure to teen drama. But I wouldn't trade my girls for anything.

I've been a writer my entire life, literally. My mom still has a box full of stories I wrote as a kid. And I still have a box of stories my best friend and I would exchange in high school. She'd start a story line and I'd finish it. We'd just keep going back and forth, anteing up the drama each round. But I chose to concentrate in Public Relations instead of journalism in college, because it seemed more interesting. And now it's come in handy since I do a lot of my own promotion. From the year 2000 until about ’06 I freelanced for magazines. I was freelancing full time in '03 when the idea for my YA series came into my head. I pursued it and here I am.

Tell us about your current book?

Right now, the second book in my series, Don't Get It Twisted, is out. It follows the main character, Mina, through her first boyfriend experience. She finds herself in the lucky (or unlucky, depending on how you see it) position of a love triangle. Meanwhile, one of Mina's best childhood friends is faced with slipping grades and trying to keep his spot on the basketball team by any means necessary. It's a story of making choices and living with both the choices and their consequences.

The third book in the series, That's What's Up! will be out early July. Writing this series is like watching my own children grow before my eyes. Each book has the characters maturing, facing decisions of the average teen - like how having a boyfriend impacts our friendship with our girl friends, hiding things from our parents, hiding things from our friends. But they're also about the fun we may have doing those things. I try to show both sides - the fun and the not so fun, because that's real.

What would you like your readers to take away from your book?

I write because these are the type of stories I would have loved to read when I was a young reader. They're the type of stories I did read as a young reader, only the characters were usually Caucasian. So my desire is to have my readers feel a kinship with my Del Rio Bay clique. I'm certain that most teens and tweens know someone like one of my characters or they may be like one of them. I only want them to enjoy it and take satisfaction that someone is offering a portrayal of them or their friend circle that literature hasn't always offered.

Are you a morning writer or a night writer?

I've done both. Used to be, I could write anytime and through any distraction. But being a series writer and under deadline pretty much constantly, I have to be more scheduled.

I wrote my second book at night - staying up until 1 a.m. every night. One a.m. was my limit. Even when the story was still burning, I'd make myself go to bed because I have kids to get ready for school and a full time job to go to. But I wrote the third book in my series by getting up at 6 a.m. every morning and writing for exactly one hour. Once my daughters woke up, I'd stop. A huge portion of the book was written that way. And when inspiration would hit at other times I'd write free hand on a legal pad - my first time doing that.

The fourth book, which I just sent off to my editor, I wrote by going into the office by 9 p.m. and staying there until I ran out of steam or 1 a.m. - whichever came first. Each and every book has been a different schedule. I try to let it happen naturally, so it doesn't become a burden. Once I find a rhythm for that book I stick with it.

What aspect of writing do you love the best, and which do you hate the most?

I love getting lost in my writing. There are periods where the writing is going so well I feel like I'm actually inside the world I've created. It gets to the point where I don't want to leave it. It's like being drunk with it, a tangible, good feeling. What I hate, is struggling to write well. There are days, I'll write and know what I'm writing is drivel. I'll know it's crap. But I also know that writing crap is better than a blank page, because I can go back and fix bad writing. Still, having to force it is painful to my creative spirit.

What’s something you wish you’d known earlier that might have saved you some time/frustration in the publishing business?

I'm a Type A personality, which means I tend to research and strategize. So I haven't felt blindsided by anything. BUT, even though I knew authors are responsible for a great deal of their own promo, the amount of promotion that's on my shoulders still pinches me time to time. I wish I could write books and then call myself done for the day. But I spend a good deal of time seeking out then planning promotion.

I've heard self published authors talk about traditionally published authors having it easy. Well the definition of easy is relative. What traditionally published authors have is a wider distribution channel - which is huge when you're talking about selling a product. And we have access to certain promo avenues like editorial reviews by Publishers Weekly or School Library Journal or appearances at major conferences. It's true we have more access to opportunities than self published authors do. But not every book gets reviewed editorially and getting to appear or do a signing at BEA or some other industry conference is another rarity. There's a food chain in publishing and only a handful of us are at the level of having our publisher secure book tours, appearances and meet and greets with booksellers. So that leaves an awful lot of promotion out there that's still the author's domain.

What’s the most interesting change in your life as a result of being a published author?

Right now, there haven't been any drastic or significant changes to my life or lifestyle. I was a Type A-overly busy person before I got my book contract. And I'm a Type A-overly busy person now. If there's any change, it may be that I really have lost the ability to relax. Every time I have a moment of rest, either voices start whispering a story to me or I remember some book business thing I need to tend to.


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