CONJURE by Lea Nolan
Thanks so much for having me here at The Book Goddess. It’s a pleasure to visit with you!
Jana asked me tell you a bit about my publication story and how I came to write CONJURE. It’s an interesting tale, so I’m happy to share it!
I wasn’t always a fiction writer, but I did do quite a bit of writing as a health policy researcher and analyst. I like to say that I wrote hundreds of reports, publications and articles that tens of people enjoyed. But then I started having babies and my priorities shifted and I started to work part-time while I pursued a PhD in public health. Truthfully, after more than 15 years in the business, I was starting to get burned out.
And then I read Twilight. Like so many recent writers, I was inspired by the powerful emotional feelings Stephenie Meyers conveyed in that book. It reminded me of how earth-quaking first love can be and spurred my interest in YA fiction. When I was a teen there was no such “genre” and I ran out of books to read with teen characters by the time I was twelve. So after studying a few YA books, I figured I’d try my hand at writing.
It took me two years to write my first book. Let me explain, I didn’t take me that long to draft. Over those two years, I wrote then completely stripped that manuscript down, changed the tense, restructured scenes, etc. In total, it was reworked six times before it was good enough to query agents. Then I had to perfect my query letter which was even more difficult. I can’t tell you how many embarrassingly bad queries I sent out. But after taking a couple great query classes and running it by some fantastic betas, I finally had one that worked. I started getting responses from agents and request for partials and fulls. One of those agents asked to see what else I had. Luckily, I had the first 50 pages of what became CONJURE so I sent them off. Forty-five minutes later she offered representation, not for that first (still unpublished) book but for the partial. I still had to finish drafting the book and revising it which took several more months. About three years after I’d first started writing, we went on submission.
And that’s when things got interesting. CONJURE features a hidden 18th-century pirate treasure, demon dogs, soul snatching, and a wicked flesh-eating curse that can only be broken with Gullah hoodoo magic. There’s lots of action and adventure and there’s also a sweet romance. Several editors loved the voice and concept but they didn’t exactly know what to do with a story that had the fast-paced adventure usually found in a middle grade book, but also a sweet YA romance between a smart, brave heroine and a hunky hero. Thankfully Liz Pelletier of Entangled Publishing did. “This is a middle grade/YA cross over,” she declared, a book to fit the niche of tweens and younger teen readers who aren’t drawn to the darker/edgier/sexier upper YAs that are on the market. And even better, since the series will get progressively creepy and sinister as it goes on, it will grow with its readers. It was exactly the right way to go. So we aged the characters down a little bit and tweaked their language a smidge but kept everything else exactly as it was and CONJURE was born.
As for how I came to write CONJURE that’s another story all together but it’s a good one because it proves you can find inspiration from anywhere. As bizarre as it sounds, the idea for CONJURE came from a Chick Fil A kids meal bag. We’d just gone through the drive-through and my daughter was reading the little educational factoids they print on the bags. Her little voice floated up from the back seat. “Mommy, did you know pirates used to send messages in a bottle?” No, as a matter of fact, I’d never heard that. As I drove down the road I wondered, why would a pirate need to send a message in a bottle? An answer popped into my head: Maybe his ship and crew were cursed. But what could he have done to land in such trouble? The questions and answers snowballed and before I knew it, I had to set aside the novel I’d been planning to write this one instead.
Thanks again for having me! This was a lot of fun.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Author: Lea Nolan
Release Date: October 23rd 2012
Genre: Young Adult/Middle Grade
Publisher: Entangled TeenPages: 314
Be careful what you search for...
Emma Guthrie expects this summer to be like any other in the South Carolina Lowcountry--hot and steamy with plenty of beach time alongside her best friend and secret crush, Cooper Beaumont, and Emma’s ever-present twin brother, Jack. But then a mysterious eighteenth-century message in a bottle surfaces, revealing a hidden pirate bounty. Lured by the adventure, the trio discovers the treasure and unwittingly unleashes an ancient Gullah curse that attacks Jack with the wicked flesh-eating Creep and promises to steal Cooper’s soul on his approaching sixteenth birthday.
When a strange girl appears, bent on revenge; demon dogs become a threat; and Jack turns into a walking skeleton; Emma has no choice but to learn hoodoo magic to undo the hex, all before summer—and her friends--are lost forever.
About the author!