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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Considering the "What ifs" in Creating a Novel: Author Interview with Marissa Shrock

What made you decide to write a YA dystopian novel that has a Christian theme?
I teach middle school English. One day while grading persuasive essays, I discovered many of my students held passionate pro-life views. I asked myself, What if a society required teenage girls to have abortions simply because they're underage? Would all of the girls comply? From there I created a society that would support such a law, and a dystopian society seemed the most logical choice.

How many rewrites did you do on it? Who helped you with the editing?
I did about four rewrites and four rounds of edits. I hired Dr. Dennis E. Hensley to do editing. Of course, the publisher did editorial work as well.

I love your initial line on your book blurb… If inalienable rights begin with life itself, will Vivica have the courage to defend them, no matter what it takes? That’s a pretty heady subject to cover. What made you choose it?
As a writer, I always think about the story first and how I can entertain the reader. But I find it impossible to separate my Biblical worldview from my stories. I also believe we're blessed to live in a country founded upon important principles that allow us to have freedom. These principles must be preserved and defended.

The story of this girl in a society that was forcing abortions on teenagers just wouldn't go away, and I knew it was a chance to shed a different light on this controversial issue, so I tackled it.

Have other books been started and stopped along the way?
I started one about ten years ago before I really decided to get serious and learn the craft of writing.

You’ve really made a commitment to your writing through Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild with their Apprentice, Journeyman, and Craftsman courses. What made you continue through all the courses?
When I started taking the courses and learning to write, I felt for the first time that I was doing something I loved and was passionate about. I'd always been a voracious reader, so I think learning to write was the next step. Reading was certainly excellent preparation!

Most Christian publishers will not review unsolicited manuscripts from new writers unless they come from the Guild or similar sources. Did you pitch any agents?
I pitched to two agents, and the second one accepted me as a client. My agent pitched to one publisher, and they took it.

How do you write? Did you do an outline first? Did you do individual character development before doing the full plot?
I write organically and discover the story as I write. This means I must do several rewrites to make sure the story escalates properly.

What type of publicity do you do to promote your book? What has worked best for you in generating sales?
This is my first book, and since it was just released, I'm learning what helps to generate sales. I use social media, I'm working on building my email newsletter subscription list, and I'm planning a Facebook party in a few weeks to celebrate/promote my book.

What do you know now about writing/publishing now that you wished you had known sooner?I wish I'd started learning more about marketing and promotion sooner than I did.

Is this a stand alone book or are you planning a sequel or prequel for any of your characters?
Right now I'm planning to write two sequels. I left the door open for a sequel in the first book, and readers are already telling me they want one.

What is the best advice you’ve been given about writing or that you’ve learned that you would like to pass along?
I believe it is important for each of us to find God's will for our lives, follow it, and not worry about comparing ourselves to other writers.

That's all for today's interview. If you'd like to learn more about Marissa's writing or buy her book, here's the best way to do that:
                                                              Marissa Shrock - Young Adult Fiction

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