After stalking Elana on the query tracker website, Facebook, and Twitter (okay not really stalking, but you get the picture) I thought that I should probably do an interview with this funny, inspiring, and totally busy authoress extraordinaire!
Elana Johnson’s debut novel, Control Issues, will be published by Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster) in Summer 2011. Her popular ebook, From the Query to the Call, is also available for download (http://querytothecall.elanajohnson.com). School teacher by day, Query Ninja by night, you can find her online at her personal blog (http://elanajohnson.blogspot.com) or her website (http://www.elanajohnson.com). She's also a founding co-author of the Query Tracker blog (http://querytracker.blogspot.com), the League of Extraordinary Writers (http://leaguewriters.blogspot.com), and What Writers Read (http://what-writers-read.blogspot.com). Elana is represented by Michelle Andelman of Regal Literary.
Mrs. Vee: Can you tell us a little bit about your upcoming novel CONTROL ISSUES?
Elana: CI is a dystopian novel for young adults, after the vein of The Giver or The Hunger Games. In my future society, brainwashing is the norm and the rules aren’t meant to be broken. Ever. My MC, Violet, decides she doesn’t like that life so much, and it’s all downhill from there.
Mrs. Vee: What inspired you to write this type of a novel?
Elana: I was contemplating what life would be like if choices were eliminated. Thus, a brainwashing society was born. And of course, rebel that I am, I decided that the MC would not be happy with her choiceless life.
Mrs. Vee: I know it's been pretty hard for me and a lot of writers with full time jobs, so how do you balance a full-time job, a family, and a career as an author?
Elana: Well, first off, I only work part-time, so I have it pretty easy. I have a three-day weekend, every weekend, and entire summers off. But I think just like anyone else, I squeeze in a few words here and there and everywhere.
Something that’s really saved me is my digital voice recorder. I can literally “write” anywhere I am. Sure, sometimes people look at me funny in the line at WalMart, but whatever. I just spoke/wrote 300 words while I waited for them! So take that.
Mrs. Vee: You have been known as the famed author of QUERY TO THE CALL and the Query ninja. What made you decide to write a book about queries and can you relate that to your only querying experience?
Elana: I wrote From the Query to the Call because I wanted to provide a resource that had all the best information I’d spent two years learning, all in one place. So the ebook has everything you need to craft a killer query letter, research agents, send submissions, and field “the call.”
And I actually queried two novels (one totally failed) before I found an agent, so it’s about 19 months worth of query experience from me.
Mrs. Vee: What was your "vice" or "vices" that helped you get through the writing and querying process? How have you been able to handle the squirms as your book went on submission to publishing houses?
Elana: Pretty much the only thing that helped me get through the query process was my friends, online and in person. If I couldn’t whine to them daily, I don’t know what I would’ve done.
The writing process is a wild ride, as my crit partners well know. Without them, I’d be lost in the maze of grammar and fragmented sentences.
I didn’t have much time to squirm on submission. My agent didn’t send me the list until I was a week out, and we got an offer the next week. But don’t compare—it took me 8 freaking months to find an agent. And that was after the first failed novel, don’t forget that. I’d paid my dues, I think.
Mrs. Vee: What is the best advice that you have ever gotten as a writer?
Elana: Be Elana. (Thank you, Ali Cross.)
Mrs. Vee: So Write on Con. Why should people sign up for it and how did you and your fellow author friends come up with it?
Elana: It was the brainchild of Casey McCormick, and I pretty much just forced her to do it with me. We got several more people who are smarter than us (well, me at least) to handle the load. Plus, six brains are better than one, right? Right.
And holy cow, everyone should sign up for WriteOnCon. We have narrowed it to the children’s market, but only for organizational purposes. Every single writer, in any genre, will benefit from the conference. Editors, literary agents, and published authors will be addressing topics such as voice, characterization, refining your craft, revision, becoming a career author, and so much more. So sign up!
Mrs. Vee: If there was a movie made about CONTROL ISSUES who would you have play the main characters?
Elana: Dude, that is so hard. It’s a futuristic novel, and I’ve got all this short funky hair and eyes that don’t match. And I’m so out of the loop on pop culture. Like, seriously. Can I take the fifth or something? I wouldn’t even know where to begin on this. Is that lamesauce? *sigh* Probably.
Mrs. Vee: Favorite book, movie, and TV show?
Elana: Book: The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson.
Movie: Two Weeks Notice
TV show: The Office and/or any reality TV
Mrs. Vee: Famous last words?
Elana: “Never give up! Never surrender!” (That’s from Galaxy Quest, one of my faves.)