Today I’m with Canadian S.M. Pearce as we talk about her experience of writing and releasing her debut YA dystopian novel Outliers whilst still at high school.
Firstly many congratulations on publishing. You were sixteen when Outliers went to print, releasing on 25th August this year and you’re still only seventeen now. Your list of interests and activities is as long as your arm, with still being at high school, tutoring your fellow students, blogging, swimming, drawing and painting.
Do you think you’ve had to give up anything because of the amount of work it takes to get a novel released?
I suppose I have, but nothing I’d really regret. Mostly “extras” like T.V. and things like that, although once editing hit there were a couple of months where I didn’t really get out of the house. One thing might be that because I spent so much time writing, I didn’t get to pay as much attention to other arts. I really love drawing and painting, but I didn’t get as much time for them as I’d have liked. Also as much of a books and studying person as I am, I really enjoy welding and metal-work.
It can be hard being a teenager at school with the stresses of learning and pressure from your peers. How have your fellow students reacted to the novel?
I’ve gotten a lot of positivity from my fellow students! The launch was in the summer, so most students have just been hearing about it since school started, but I’ve had quite a few people tell me how excited they are for me! I’ve also gotten a book in the school library, which was super exciting!
My school has been really supportive! The library has purchased a copy, as have my friends, and I even had an article in the school newspaper! Unfortunately, my English teacher from last year left the school, but I’ve been working and talking with a few other English teachers and it’s been lovely! I’ve had a few other teachers buy copies, and one teacher even came to the launch party!
After releasing a novel so early in life, do you aspire to write for a living when you leave education?
I’m actually aspiring to a career in architecture, and hope someday to make a big impact with sustainable designs. I plan to keep writing and publishing more novels as well, starting with the second book in the “Outliers Trilogy” (which is already in progress). I have many ambitions for where I’ll take my future, and I’m sure there will be many surprises on the way, too.
Along with all your other activities you blog regularly. Can you tell me about your blog and any other writing projects you’re working on?
It’s called BrainClutterBlogs and I post weekly advice on writing, as well as updates about my own projects. I’ve also started working on a kids’ picture book, though nothing serious is in the works yet. I do enjoy writing poetry, too, but I typically keep it very personal.
Can you tell me about your writing process?
I almost always write at home. I’ve been forced recently to start writing at the desk more (I used to write on the couch, but I ended up with a really nasty case of tendinitis in my wrists). I only ever jot down quick ideas outside of the home. Until work is finished, writing is pretty private for me, so I don’t like to be surrounded by people, say, in a cafe.
I am very much a planner. I do extremely detailed outlines (I go through the whole process in a post) and character profiles, and follow them closely. I like to know what’s coming for the story, it lets me ensure everything flows/makes sense, and helps me to better make goals.
I did a tag on writing rituals which you can read on my blog. One thing I never mentioned, was that before writing I always try to learn one thing. This was especially helpful for me when I was beginning to write, and I keep it up today. Most times, I’ll watch a YouTube video or read an article about writing before I start, but there are no specific rules to this.
What is your favourite part of the process?
The moment when you have a fresh, exciting idea, or you’ve finally reached an intense scene you’ve been waiting to write in, and you’re typing so hard your fingers hurt, because you can’t type as fast as the ideas and words are coming.
Your debut novel Outliers came out in August this year, can you tell me all about the book?
It is a YA sci-fi / dystopian, taking place in the far future. “Outliers” follows Renee and her two friends as they struggle to survive the Takers—a secret government organisation that eliminates people like them with special abilities. This isn’t made easy living under a dome, Earth known by all as a desolate wasteland. It’s only a matter of time before the Takers show up, and Renee is about to discover there’s more to her world than there seems. Readers have compared it to the Gifted meets the 100.
The book is self-published through Ingram Spark. What made you choose Ingram Spark over other self publishing platforms such as KDP?
The main reasons I chose Ingram Spark were the quality and reputation. I personally think Ingram has a higher quality than KDP and Lulu for print novels, based on personal experience and research. I couldn’t have been happier with how my novel came out, so I’m really glad for my decision. I knew it would cost me more to go with Ingram, but it was really important for me to have excellent book quality for my novel.
After putting so much time and money into producing the book, and the amazing cover my designer did, I didn’t want to fall short on presentation. The second reason, reputation, was also a consideration of mine. I’m interested in the possibility of getting into brick and mortar stores, and from what I’ve researched, most places don’t want to work with KDP it smaller self-publishing brands. There’s a better chance with Ingram, because retailers know it has strict print-quality standards.
Thank you S.M. Pearce for taking the time to talk with me and I wish you every luck with the release of Outliers which is available to buy now from Amazon. I hope you keep in touch as you progress with the second in the series.
If you enjoyed this interview then why not follow my blog where I’ll be posting more interviews soon. I regularly provide an insight into my own experiences as I work towards publishing my debut novel, In The End. If you’re an author, or work in the industry and you’ve got an interesting story to tell, drop me a line on firstname.lastname@example.org