Vanessa Di Gregorio
Hey everyone! Meet Steph Bowe – a sixteen-year-old author living in Victoria, Australia. She is represented by Ginger Clark of Curtis Brown Literary and Talent Agency; and her debut novel, GIRL SAVES BOY, is set to be published in Australia and New Zealand in September 2010, and in the US in 2011. She blogs at Hey! Teenager of the Year; and if you haven’t checked it out yet, I suggest you do! I got the chance to talk to her about herself, her writing, and a few things in between.
Vanessa: Thanks for joining us Steph! The first thing I was wondering is, how long have you been writing? Have you always known that you wanted to become a published author?
Steph: I’ve been writing since I was seven years old, and I vowed to write and publish a novel, then buy a house with the royalties. I haven’t bought the house yet – I think I overestimated how much money authors make, and houses were a lot cheaper in 2001 – but I’ve realised my dream of being a published author. It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was very young. I finished my first novel when I was fourteen.
V: Could you tell us a bit about your upcoming novel, GIRL SAVES BOY?
S: My debut novel, GIRL SAVES BOY, is a story about life, death, love… and garden gnomes. Sacha Thomas is dying of cancer, and has lost all hope – then a girl called Jewel Valentine saves him from drowning; a beautiful, mysterious girl with secrets of her own. Adventures, involving lobster emancipation and quirky teenage prodigies, ensue.
V: You’re also a part of the YA 5 – tell us a bit about it and how you became a part of it.
S: I was invited to join by Georgia McBride. It’s a group blog by a number of YA authors, written for teenage readers. We aim to blog about things that’ll interest teens – so that involves school visits and interviewing kids in libraries. It’s a bit different to other blogs out there because of this.
V: You were 15 when you got your agent. I know your agent, Ginger Clark, was aware of your age from reading your blog; but you also had 2 other offers of representation from other agents. Were they aware of your age? Many young authors worry that their young age will hinder them from finding an agent and getting a book deal. Would you agree with them?
S: One of the other agents who offered representation thought I was older, but when I told her I don’t think it bothered her. You really have to demonstrate you have the maturity of an professional writer. Your age won’t hinder you from getting an agent and a book deal, but it’s super important your parents are on board with it (since they will have to sign everything and drive you everywhere), that the agent knows from the start, and that you’re mature about it! Being a young author can be a good marketing angle, but writing a good book is more important.
V: You also found your agent through a contest on the blog Miss Snark’s First Victim (which, funny enough, is also how one of our soon-to-be-announced contributors got her agent). What was your querying process like, in regards to both the contest, and the queries you sent out to other agents?
S: It was very quick! I sent out three queries at the beginning of September ’09, entered in that contest, then sent out fulls and then a fortnight later I had three offers. So it happened very quickly and it was very overwhelming. I was very surprised by the response! I was expecting to wait months.
V: Many aspiring authors around the world are worried that agents from other countries won’t represent them. But you’re proof that they will! What is it like working with an agent who lives overseas in the U.S.? Do you think it makes it any more difficult?
S: I don’t think it makes it super difficult – there are just some limitations. Like, nighttime here is daytime there, so I tend to get email responses at night from her, and phone calls have to be scheduled so one of us is up late at night. There are some tricky tax issues and it’ll be difficult for me to promote my book in the US (unless I fly over there. Which I won’t. People have guns!). But apart from those things, it’s pretty much the same as being in the same country.
V: What is it like, working with two different editors (both Australian and American)?
S: My Australian editor is my main editor, so I’ve been almost entirely working with her. I haven’t done much editing with my US editor yet.
V: What do you enjoy most about writing? Do you have any writing must-haves for inspiration?
S: I love creating… the part where I’m typing out words is the best. It’s a great feeling. As for inspiration? It’s too abstract, so I can’t really look at a photo and be inspired, though I find image collages and playlists can help when I’m first starting a novel.
V: Your blog seems to hint at the fact that you’ve dropped out of high-school; so I was wondering… have you? If so, how has it affected your ability to write, time-wise? Are you considering going to college?
S: I’m currently doing Year 11 (the Australian equivalent of Junior year, I think) by correspondence (I receive schoolwork, complete it at home, post it back to teachers so it can be marked). So I can get my high school certificate, but I also have time to manage my writing and the business side of that. After I finish high school, I’ll definitely be going to university.
V: What do you want to do for the rest of your life?
S: I’d love to be able to write full-time, but I’m aware that’s next to impossible, so my second choice is working in the publishing industry. I’d love to be an editor.
V: Why gnomes?
S: Because gnomes are awesome! They’re so cute.
V: Are you working on any other projects?
S: I’m working on my second novel at the moment. The working title is Signs & Wonders, it’s contemporary YA, and it’s about a girl discovering dark secrets in the pasts of her parents. I’ve also got a lot of ideas and novel beginnings and lots of plans for more books…
V: You’ve shaved your head, gotten a book deal, and have a huge online following, all by 16! So the questions is… what HAVEN’T you done?
S: I haven’t played a whole lot of sport. I’m thinking I might take up tennis…
V: Thanks so much, Steph!!
Vanessa is a Sales Assistant at Kate Walker & Co., a book and gift sales agency located in Toronto. She is also enrolled in a publishing program. Currently, she is working on a YA fantasy novel and a Children’s non-fiction series.
Steph Bowe is a 16-year-old YA author, whose debut novel, GIRL SAVES BOY, will be published by Text Publishing this September in Australia & New Zealand, and by Egmont USA in America in 2011. She represented by Ginger Clark of Curtis Brown.