Mary Lindsey's debut young adult novel, SHATTERED SOULS, is scheduled for release December 8, 2011 from Philomel/Penguin.
Having received a B.A. in English literature with a minor in drama from the University of Houston, she currently teaches acting to children and teens at a private studio in Houston, Texas.
Mary lives with her husband, three kids, two dogs, her daughter's pet rats, an Australian Bearded Dragon, and dozens of Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches.
She is represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette from the Erin Murphy Literary Agency.
Tell us a little bit about your process and how you became a writer.
Like most kids, I composed stories, but I never wanted to be a writer. I was (and am) first and foremost a reader.
I majored in English with a focus on the classics and great works. A majority of my writing in college was literary analysis; in law school, it was technical writing and briefs. I avoided creative writing like the plague. I thought I was terrible at it. It was too hard to come up with stuff that wasn’t lame (It still is).
I started writing several years ago by accident. My daughter had just discovered teen literature and had burned through several popular series. She was lamenting the fact that most male heroes in paranormal books were demons, vampires or some type of inherently evil creature fighting their wicked impulses. She asked me why the hero couldn’t be a “normal” guy who has some kind of special/magical power, but wasn’t evil or didn’t believe himself evil.
I told her that for her birthday, I’d write her a book like that. (To this day, I have no idea why I would offer such a crazy thing. I’d never written fiction and had no desire to do so).
True to my word, I gave her a chapter a day for a month. The result was a 700-page young adult time-travel novel.
It had a cool premise, but was awful—truly awful with respect to craft. Reading a book and knowing what works is one thing; writing one is entirely another.
After spending a month writing 8-12 hours a day, I decided I’d found the perfect job. I LOVED it.
What was your favorite chapter/scene to write and why?
I loved writing the scene in which Alden and Lenzi first soul share. Even though it happens well into the book, it was the first scene I wrote. It was very different when I wrote it over four years ago—much more aggressive and dark.
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
The toughest criticism came from an agent when I queried my first novel (which I mentioned in my answer to your first question. It was truly awful). She said a lot of nice things about the full manuscript, then closed with my first honest critique. “It’s a shame,” she wrote, “that your writing doesn’t live up to your premise or characterization.”
In other words, my writing sucked.
I was relieved when I got this rejection because writing was something I could learn. And I did. I read and studied and hired a private coach until I understood the difference between technical writing, of which I had done a lot, and writing fiction.
The best compliment came when Publishers Weekly reviewed Shattered Souls and called my writing “accomplished.” They didn’t just like the book; they mentioned my writing.
In light of my toughest criticism from that agent all those years ago, PW’s words validated all the time and effort spent to learn my craft.
What is easier to write: The first line or the last line?
Oh, the last for sure. I must have had ten first chapters and a hundred first sentences.
What are you working on now?
I’m writing a gothic YA inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s last poem, “Annabel Lee.” I’m excited to be working with Penguin and my editor, Jill Santopolo again on this one.
Thank you so much, Jen, for having me on your blog today.
A thrilling debut story of death, love, destiny and danger
Lenzi hears voices and has visions - gravestones, floods, a boy with steel gray eyes. Her boyfriend, Zak, can't help, and everything keeps getting louder and more intense. Then Lenzi meets Alden, the boy from her dreams, who reveals that she's a reincarnated Speaker - someone who can talk to and help lost souls - and that he has been her Protector for centuries.
Now Lenzi must choose between her life with Zak and the life she is destined to lead with Alden. But time is running out: a malevolent spirit is out to destroy Lenzi, and he will kill her if she doesn't make a decision soon.