author interview: andrea colt
talking Torched,Wavecrossed and all about writing
The contributors at Young Adultica absolutely loved Torched, your YA mystery. For our readers, can you give us your one-sentence description?
Thank you so much! Torched is essentially a story about a cheerleader who is framed for arson and has to clear her name—and get even.
How did you come up with the premise?
The premise for Torched arrived after the main character, Rose. I met her while doing some writing exercises, and she had such a feisty, funny voice that I immediately knew I wanted to spend more time with her. I’d thought of writing an arson-themed romantic mystery for a while, and she was perfect. From there, it all gelled.
We can't get enough of mysteries that keep us guessing until the end. How did you tackle the daunting task of laying just the right number of clues and red herrings?
Layering in clues with red herrings is so tricky, but key for a mystery. Too many clues, and people guess the ending and are bored. Too few clues, and people feel like the author cheated. I basically approached it by knowing from the beginning who was guilty, but making sure while I wrote to keep Rose presented with enough real possibilities that she had to track down and investigate. Later, I added more “real” clues to make sure the groundwork was there.
Rose and Paxton have such great chemistry. Are they based on anyone you know?
Nope! I just adore characters who can verbally spar while falling in love :)
Your latest novel, Wavecrossed, is a paranormal. What's the one-sentence description for this one?
Wavecrossed stars Cassandra, a selkie on a mission to rescue her family, no matter the cost.
What inspired you to switch gears from mystery to paranormal?
I actually wrote Wavecrossed first! Well, an earlier version of it. I grew up reading more fantasy than contemporary novels, and Wavecrossed is the novel that got me signed with an agent. While that was on submission, I wrote Torched on somewhat of a whim, and had so much fun with it. Eventually my agent and I split, and I decided to rewrite Wavecrossed from scratch. In the meantime, Torched was totally ready, so I went ahead and released that first.
Do the two stories share anything in common?
Feisty heroines! Cassandra is more intense and guarded than Rose, but then she’s been through so much more personally. They both also fall for smart guys with hearts of gold :)
Did your writing process or style differ between the two genres? Which one came easier?
That’s a tough question, since I actually wrote Wavecrossed in its entirety three times. The final version came much easier than the first, since I had learned so much and grown as a writer. But overall, Torched came much easier—once I had Rose and the overall plot, it just flowed, and within a couple months I had a decent draft.
What genre(s) are you currently working on, and what can we look forward to seeing in the future?
Going forward I’d definitely like to keep writing in both contemporary and paranormal genres. They’re such a different approach, and so much fun to switch between. I’m hoping to complete the Wavecrossed trilogy in the next couple of years, because although Wavecrossed can be read as a standalone, Cassandra’s story is by no means finished!
Can you tell us a little bit about your journey as a writer?
Long and winding and still not finished :) I started writing seriously after college, and wrote three novels before snagging an agent. Wrote a couple more, learned a lot about the industry, both trade- and self-publishing, and decided that with the market the way it is right now, self-publishing fits my path best at the moment. Right now I love having total control over the publishing process, so I’m excited to see what comes next!
What has been the biggest challenge for you?
My own self-doubt. I wound up signing with an agent who wasn’t a good fit for me even from the beginning, but I assumed she knew best and so ignored the little voice inside of me… for two years! In this industry, a lot of people assume there’s a “right” way, and it took a while before I was willing to put enough faith in myself to step out and forge my own path. Self-publishing isn’t as unconventional as it used to be, but it still requires an enormous amount of confidence, because no one is going to validate you. You have to validate yourself. It’s part of growing up, I suppose, but it’s tough. Nowadays, though, I am so glad my journey turned out the way it did.
What do you enjoy most about churning out words for ravenous YA readers?
I love seeing what crazy shenanigans my characters will get into! I’m as much a fan of them as I am a creator, and my heroines are very close to my heart. It makes me so happy when readers find them as entertaining as I do, so to everyone who’s taken a chance on Rose and Cassandra, thanks!
What is your favorite YA book of all time?
I’d have to say Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor. It’s an epic fantasy that doesn’t pull its punches, and I am counting the days until the final installment of the trilogy releases!
What other authors have inspired you?
I grew up reading Mercedes Lackey, Anne McCaffrey, and Lois McMaster Bujold, all of whom write strong, smart protagonists. I also love the contemporary YA novels of Miranda Kenneally, who I’m lucky enough to count as a friend, and who encouraged me to branch out into the contemporary genre. I’m in awe of how she creates real, flawed, and ultimately unputdownable characters and friendships.
Any last thoughts you would like to leave with our readers?
If you’re a fan of an author, the best thing you can do to support them is by leaving reviews online and by talking them up in person. It only takes a few minutes, but it’s a huge benefit to an author!
And keep on reading! Books are friends we never outgrow :)
Thanks so much for having me on Young Adultica!
Thank you Andrea Lynn Colt for sharing your thoughts and story with us!