Author Interview with debut author Lissa Price!

All this week we're celebrating Lissa Price and her debut, STARTERS available NOW from Random House! And if you haven't checked out the LA Times glowing review of the book, check it out here!

I was lucky to snag Lissa before her interview, and here's what she had to say about herself, her writing, and her latest title.

We can read all about your life from your bio in the jacket flap of your book. And let me tell our readers--you have led quite an interesting life! You have walked with elephants in Botswana, swum with penguins in the Galapagos, danced in India, and had tea in Kyoto. Wow!

So, what's a completely random fact about you that most people don't know?

Maybe this one – I collect charm bracelets, especially ones with three-dimensional moving parts. The English ones are my favorites, but I have some from a few different countries and different decades. Guess that’s why Callie gets a charm bracelet in the book…

As a kid, what was your favorite book? Have your tastes changed since growing up?

The Hobbit. I tend to prefer less full fantasy now, where there’s not a long list of strange names to learn. I love all the YA dystopian novels. The writing there is so exciting and it’s great that science fiction has found a home in the YA section of the bookstore.

In your book, STARTERS, the old can temporarily take the place of the young. It’s dangerous for the young, and I can definitely see why Callie wouldn’t want to do it. But if you were old, would you consider signing up to take a young person’s body temporarily?

Gosh, no! I joke about being in Shaun White’s body but seriously, I try to show how wrong it is. One of the nice Enders who thought it was okay turns around by the end.

It's the inevitable question: what inspired STARTERS? 

I was trying to get a flu shot a few years ago and they didn’t make enough vaccine. I think one of the batches turned out spoiled. Anyway, the government set up a triage system where it was only for the very young and the elderly (and the infirm). I thought what if this was a killer disease? The only ones left would be the most fragile members of society.

One of the great things about STARTERS is how you present moral issues—questions of what is right and what is wrong—without being preachy. How did you find the balance of showing morality without being didactic?

Thanks. I get into the characters pretty deeply, so Callie tells me what she thinks and believes and I try not to shut her out. I think when it’s coming from a character, it helps.

Can you tell us a little bit about the process--particularly the timeline--of writing & publishing STARTERS?

I wrote Starters in about nine months, with a couple more months of polishing. I got my agent in 24 hours, via an email query. I had met her in New York in a casual setting a couple of years before that. She got the full manuscript by 11 east coast time and emailed me at 6 her time saying she was canceling her dinner appointment to finish my manuscript. She called the next day and offered representation. I thought about it overnight (I had other offers).

She wanted to go out with it immediately but I wanted to tweak it so I did a polish over the next two weeks. Then she took it out and sold it in 6 days over a holiday weekend, when my publishers were not in their offices. They had moved floors at the time and didn’t expect to do any business over the holiday. An auction was set up between a group of publishers but Random House pre-empted.

So ten months later, today, it is being published. Book 2, the end to the series, Enders, will come out approximately 8 months after today (Dec 4 2012). This is very fast in publishing terms and I think I’m a little dizzy from it all – but in a good way!

If your reader could only take away one emotion, theme, or idea from STARTERS, what would you want it to be?

That you’re so much more than what you appear to be on the outside.

What's the most surprising thing you've learned since becoming a writer?

How much time would be devoted to the business of writing – publicity, social networking, which I like doing – and how much overlap there would be. You’re writing something new while you’re doing edits on the first book and then also writing a short story. Sometimes, especially with tight deadlines, it can feel like this is all you do.

But the biggest thrill is when a reader tweets late at night that they stayed up to finish your book, and it brings back the joy in writing.

What do you think are your strongest and weakest points in writing?

I’m too new to know my weakest points but I’m sure I’ll discover them. Beta readers have told me they love the twists and turns in the story that they never saw coming. And that they felt they were experiencing a fresh world.

Beyond the typical--never give up, believe in yourself--what would be the single best advice you'd like to give another writer?

Be smart but write from the heart.

Thanks so much, Lissa! 

And because Lissa is awesome, she's donated a super-cool prize for one commenter on today's post. Leave any comment below to be entered to win a very neat Starters Light-Up necklace! 

Here it is all lit up!

So--get to it! Leave a comment here to be entered!!
Details: US addresses only, winners announced this weekend.

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Eve said...

Oh that necklace is so cool. I'd love to win it. I enjoyed reading Starters so much and then A Portrait of a Starter, I was so touched by his concern of her...sigh good things. The book was amazing and I'm sure everyone will be rushing out to get their own copy asap!

Unknown said...

Congrats on the book(s). It's truly fascinating to read about the everyday experiences which set off the writing process and the creation of the dystopian books many of us love so much. Looking forward to checking out the world you've created in Starters.

SJune said...

I haven't read Starters yet, but it is on my list and I hope to read it soon. It sounds like a book that both those who are young and young at heart will enjoy. The necklace is very cool! thanks for the giveaway.

Kristen said...

I loved Starters! Thanks for the chance to win this awesome necklace! :))


Lissa Price said...

Eve, so glad you liked Portrait of a Starter! All, I made a small number of these, so whoever wins it will have something special and fun. It has three speeds (fast, slower and constant). I will give one away at some tour stops, but I don't have very many - so I wish you luck!

Zombie Joe said...

Seems Starters is all over my news feeds this week. It started with Book Show Book Show and is leaking over into FB and Twitter now. Looks like Starters is moving up to the top of my budget list this month...

Jessirae said...

That necklace is awesome! *must have* lol!

I have read Starters already and A Portrait of A Starter (Thanks to Lissa for telling me it was available). I absolutely loved both. I wish book two was out already! I for one and hoping there is more Blake <3 lol. But mostly, I can't wait to get back into Callie's head. I adore her so much.

Thank you for the chance to win this! I'll be crossing my fingers :)

alicia marie said...

oooh i love shiny things : ) that is such a fun light up necklace!! I haven't read Starters yet but it is definitely on my list now that it's finally out!! I can't wait to go find it in the wild : )
thanks for this awesome giveaway!!

lexirylie said...

I can't wait toread Starters! My copy was mailed today!!! The necklaces look so awesome!

Tara said...

that is one super amazing interview!!! i cant wait to get to ask some of my own questions tomorrow!! EEP!!! great interview and wonderful giveaway!!!


Julie said...

What an amazing concept. The thought of trading bodies makes me slightly squeamish, but I'd love to give your book a try!

Kathrine Roid said...

I really enjoyed the interview, but when I got to the end all I could think was, "I can haz light-up necklace?"

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This is an interesting interview cum random discussion. I really liked it because its different than the typical interview questions usually authors are asked in interviews. Lisa is a good author.

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