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KATI: Hello, all! Today we’re super excited to announce our first ever author interview…everyone welcome Stephanie Garber!

StephanieHEIDI: We first met Stephanie during the Pitch Wars writing contest earlier this year. From there we became critique partners and friends, and we got to meet her in person at the SCBWI conference last month.

KATI: Alright, Stephanie, why don’t you tell us a little about yourself?

STEPHANIE: First, thanks for wanting to interview me! I remember when I first met you both, during Pitch Wars, I fell in love with your blog right away. I loved that you were sisters who wrote YA fantasy together. I’ve always been really close to my sister, although she doesn’t share my love of fantasy and science fiction. She usually makes fun of me.

For as long as I can remember I’ve loved all things magical and amazing. I grew up reading The Chronicles of Narnia and watching Star Wars, and I was obsessed with Buffy in college. I couldn’t get enough of all of it… I guess that’s why I started writing.

HEIDI: What is your book “Lost Stars Broken Galaxy” about?

STEPHANIE: Spaceships, pirates, and exotic planets!

KATI: What inspired you to write it?

STEPHANIE: The Nicki Minaj song Starships. Just Kidding. Actually, I’m not really kidding. About a year ago when that song was on the radio all the time, I just kept thinking about spaceships. Then I started thinking about Robin Hood, and suddenly I was like, what if Robin Hood had a daughter, and instead of living in Sherwood Forest they lived in outer space? I kind of just went from there.

HEIDI: It’s nice to know something good can come from Nicki Minaj.

KATI: Ouch! Someone’s not a fan!

HEIDI: Not really a Nicki Minaj fan, true, but I’m definitely a “Lost Stars” fan. 😉

KATI: Stephanie, you recently signed on with Jessica Negrón from the Talcott Notch Literary agency. We hear so much about how it’s really important to get the right agent, and not just any agent. How did you know she was the right fit for you?

STEPHANIE: LSBG was the third book I’d queried, so I’ve spent A LOT of time researching and thinking about what type of agent I’d like.

The most important thing from me, aside from finding a reputable agent from a solid agency, was finding an agent that absolutely fell in love with my book. Jes loved my book as much I do. She picked up things about it that no one else had noticed, and when she talked about revisions, everything she said resonated with me.

I liked her right away, which was also important. I’m very relational, I really wanted to find an agent who I also liked as a person. I’d been following Jessica’s twitter feed, she’s really engaging on twitter, and she was even more so when we Skyped. She’s very encouraging and enthusiastic, but she’s also extremely professional, which I really appreciate.

I knew from looking up her agency that it has a great sales record, and I like that she’s a newer agent, who doesn’t have a full client list that I might get lost in the middle of. I emailed two of her clients, Emmie Mears and Anna Dickinson (which I totally recommend doing if an agent makes you an offer), they were both great, and they also confirmed that Jes was as amazing as she seemed.

HEIDI: Let’s go back to basics with our next question…What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?

STEPHANIE: One of my favorite writing books is Anne Lamott’s BIRD BY BIRD. In it she has a chapter called Shitty First Drafts where she talks about giving yourself the freedom to just write whatever comes to mind. She calls it the child’s draft:

“If one of the characters wants to say, ‘Well, so what, Mr. Poopy Pants?,’ you let her. No one is going to see it… Just get it all down on paper, because there may be something great in those six crazy pages that you would never have gotten to by more rational grown-up means. There may be something in the very last line of the very last paragraph on page six that you just love, that is so beautiful or wild that you now know what you’re supposed to be writing about…”

I’ve done some of my worst writing when I’ve tried to write perfect drafts, but I’ve created some of my favorite scenes by following this advice.

HEIDI: And part two of that question…What writing advice would you give?

STEPHANIE: Don’t compare yourself to other writers.

KATI: Great advice! But so hard to follow sometimes.

STEPHANIE: I know! I’m constantly comparing myself, which is why I know it’s such a bad habit.

HEIDI: We’re always looking for great book recommendations here. So, what are your three favorite books from the past year? And why are they your favorites?

STEPHANIE: I’m so glad you asked this question. Earlier this year I read THE LUMATERE CHRONICLES by Melina Marchetta, and ever since I have been obsessed with them. It’s a three book series; the first book is FINNIKIN OF THE ROCK, then FROI OF THE EXILES, and QUINTANA OF CHARYN.

The characters in those books are so incredibly flawed and so incredibly real. Characters you hate in the first book turn into heroes in the second book, and the way she weaves all of her different storylines together is pure magic. I seriously cannot say enough good things about these books. They don’t follow any of the predictable YA patterns. I seriously don’t know why they’re not more popular.

HEIDI: I’ve heard you talk about these books before – they’re definitely at the top of my “must read” list.

KATI: Me, too! And I totally agree – Heidi and I were just talking the other day about authors who never really got popular, like Vivian Vande Velde. She’s great, but she’s never been really big, and we don’t know why.

HEIDI: Yeah, “A Well-Timed Enchantment” is one of my favorite books of all time.

KATI: Speaking of authors, which author, living or dead, would you most want to have lunch with? And what is the number one question you would ask them?

STEPHANIE: I’m always changing my answer to this question, but right now I’d go with Melina Marchetta (yes, I’m a little obsessed). I would love to ask her how she writes such realistic and compelling characters.

KATI: Okay, this question’s just for fun. You’re stuck on a deserted island. Which fictional character would you want with you? Why?

STEPHANIE: I’m going to cheat and choose my two favorite characters from the Harry Potter series, Fred and George Weasley. I don’t do very well on deserted islands, so even though I love Fred and George, I’d ask them very nicely to apparate us out of there.

HEIDI: Great choice! I LOVE Fred and George! I like to think if I went to Hogwarts, I’d be friends with them.

KATI: Nah…you have a bit too much Hermione in you. I think they’d probably pull pranks on you. Me, on the other hand… 😉

HEIDI: You’re probably right. Trouble-makers have to stick together and all that. ;p So, Stephanie, since you write about space pirates, we thought we’d turn to, well, space, for this last fun question.

KATI: Here goes: You get to go on an adventure with one captain on his ship. Who would you choose? Han Solo and the Millennium Falcon? Captain Kirk and the Enterprise? Or Malcolm Reynolds and the Serenity? (side note: we are not listing The Doctor and the Tardis because of the cheat feature of time travel)

STEPHANIE: Ha! Great question. Growing up Star Wars was my favorite movie. I feel like Han was the original space pirate. But, although I’ve never watched a single episode of Star Trek, I did recently see the new Star Trek movie, and while I’d probably choose hanging out with Han Solo over Captain Kirk, I would totally love to go on an adventure in the Star Trek Galaxy. I think it would be so awesome to be beamed somewhere!

HEIDI: And that’s all folks! Thanks, Stephanie! Great having you here at Mystic Cooking HQs to spice things up. 😉

KATI: And now we’ll turn it to all of you lovely readers – do you have any questions for Stephanie? Let her know in the comments!