Can you tell us a little about your newest book Hollow Dolls?
Hollow Dolls is set in the same storyworld as my Shadow Weaver duology and features Simone, a mind reader who was once a villain’s pawn and is now picking up the pieces and searching for her home. Trouble is, she has no memories of her past life, only the name of the town…which apparently no longer exists. When she sets off to find answers along with her best friend, she soon discovers that someone with the same magic the villain once used to control her—body walking—is on the loose, making her journey much more dangerous than she expected.
How many books have you written now?
Oh dear, a lot. I’ve lost count of how many I’ve written, but as far as published books, Hollow Dolls will be my sixth. Then my seventh book (Twin Daggers, a YA fantasy twist on Romeo + Juliet if Juliet were a magic wielding spy) will be out on 8/25/2020 and the sequels to each will be out in 2021. So when all my current contracts are fulfilled that will be nine published books total. Hopefully there will be many more!
What’s your writing process like?
First I need to get a good idea and usually that comes in the form of a character with a problem that I find interesting and want to explore. Once I have that grain of an idea, I’ll brainstorm possible plot twists, other characters, what the storyworld is like, etc.
Then I go to the next step: plotting. I love thinking about all the ways I can make things terrible for my characters…and then make them better (authors are evil like that). There are many plotting tools out there, but my personal favorite is Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat Beat Sheets. They’ve made a huge difference for me in making my plots tighter and more coherent!
Next, is my least favorite, but very necessary stage: drafting. Sometimes drafting comes easily and words will pour out my ears. Other days, getting words down feels like pulling taffy from my brain. Drafting tends to be a bit of a slog for me, though I’m much faster than I used to be.
Once I finally have a messy first draft, I get to my favorite part of the process: revisions! Taking the rough material and making it shine is a glorious feeling. Usually this part of the process is quicker than drafting, but there are also several rounds of revisions (many of which include notes from my editor and/or agent) so all added up together it probably evens out in the wash.
What piece of advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Keep writing! It can be incredibly discouraging to write a first novel, revise it to within an inch of its life, and query it only to be rejected by every agent (or publisher) in NYC. It’s also totally normal. But it can make you want to give up. If you’re passionate about writing, don’t. Keep writing. Most first books never get published. And that’s OK! It’s not wasted words; it’s practice and that’s necessary to grow as a writer. So, don’t give up, keep trying, and keep improving your craft!
What are you currently reading?
Ha! I must confess that between writing two books a year for 3 years in a row and the insanity that is life with a toddler, my free reading time has been pitiful to non-existent lately. I’ve read a handful of fabulous books this past year (including Maya and the Rising Darkby Rena Barron and The Bone Gardenby Heather Kassner), but right now I’m reading a nonfiction book: Oh Crap! Potty Training: Everything Modern Parents Need to Know to Do It Once and Do It Right by Jamie Glowacki. It’s actually pretty dang funny and informative!
MarcyKate Connolly is a New York Times bestselling children’s book author who lives in New England with her family and a grumble of pugs. She graduated from Hampshire College (a magical place where they don’t give you grades) where she wrote an opera sequel to Hamlet as the equivalent of senior thesis. It was also there that she first fell in love with plotting and has been dreaming up new ways to make life difficult for her characters ever since. You can visit her online at www.marcykate.com.