Some authors take great joy in scaring their readers, but that’s only because the authors know what it’s like to be scared too. Gretchen McNeil, author of Ten, has stopped by to share her list of the top ten things that scare authors. Check out what she has to say below the summary of her latest thriller. Some of her fears might surprise you.
And their doom comes swiftly.
It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives – three days on Henry Island at an exclusive house party. Best friends Meg and Minnie each have their own reasons for wanting to be there, both of which involve Kamiak High’s most eligible bachelor, T.J. Fletcher. But what starts out as a fun-filled weekend turns dark and twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message: Vengeance is mine.
Suddenly, people are dying and the teens are cut off from the outside world. No electricity, no phones, no internet, and a ferry that isn’t scheduled to return for two days. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on each other, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she could ever imagine?
TOP 10 SCARY THINGS ABOUT BEING AN AUTHOR
1. The blank page
It’s sort of basic to writing, isn’t it? The blank Word Document page. Your name an a page number in the upper right corner, one inch margins, Times New Roman 12-point font, maybe even a title, all centered in CAPS on page 1, your name beneath it: “Blank Page, a novel by Gretchen McNeil.” This is what we live for, right?
I find the blank page intimidating. For all the promise it holds, I know that the next few months of my life will be filled with the high highs and the low lows of writing a first draft. And it’s scary.
2. The dreaded middle
It’s inevitable. Somewhere between page 100 and page 150, I’m going to hit a wall. I know its coming. I know I’m going to face plant right into it. I’ll just be writing along at full speed, minding my own business then WHAM-O! Plot? Gone. Characters? Lost. Brain? Melting. *sigh*
I may or may not have had a mild panic attack the first time I received copyedits. First of all, it’s like this OFFICIAL PROCESS with instructions that didn’t quite make sense to me. Second, the two copyeditors had written a “Gretchen Style Guide” to accompany their notes, which basically outlined all my quirks as a writer, and all the slang and whatnot specific to that book. I was like, “Holy crap, this is very serious!”
It took me two days to work up the courage to tackle them.
4. Cover reveals
As much as I may love one of my covers, there’s the uneasiness that builds up over how the reading public will react to it. Will they love it? Will they hate it? Will they leave it sitting cold and unloved on the shelves?
Basically, if I get a review from Kirkus that is anything better than “This book is a total dog turd which you should avoid at all costs” then you’ve won.
6. Unopened edit letter
Like the blank page, there’s a moment of abject fear when I open my first edit letter on a novel. How bad is it going to be? Did my editor completely hate it? Are they dropping me and canceling the book? Is my writing career over? Will I end up a truck stop waitress on Route 66?
Yes, I go through this EVERY SINGLE TIME.
7. The first royalty statement
No single word strikes more fear into the heart of the writer than this: UNEARNED.
8. Book signings
So I’ve done like dozens and dozens and DOZENS of these now, and I’m always completely sick to my stomach beforehand, utterly convinced that no one is going to show up. It never gets better. What is wrong with me?
9. Reading my own work outloud
I’m not sure if I feel like a fraud reading from my own book or if I’m just noticing all the flaws in the writing that I missed, but I absolutely HATE reading from my own books. Usually, I find one passage and just read it at every freaking event. Everyone who’s come to more than one event for TEN has heard the same 2 pages over, and over, and over, and over and…
10. Again! Again!
Here’s the scariest part of all. You’ve gotten past the blank page paralysis, fought through the jungle of the dreaded middle and managed not to have a heart attack upon reading your first edit letter. Kirkus doesn’t hate you, you’ve got a good cover, more than three people are showing up at events to hear you read the same 2 pages over and over from your book, and you’re on your way toward earning out.
So what’s scary about that?
The knowledge that you’re about to do it all again for your next book. Then the one after that. Then if you’re lucky, the ones after that as well.
The circle of publishing life. It’s a scary thing.
About the Author
Gretchen McNeil is an opera singer, writer and clown. Her YA horror POSSESS about a teen exorcist debuted with Balzer + Bray for HarperCollins in 2011. Her follow up TEN – YA horror/suspense about ten teens trapped on a remote island with a serial killer – was released September 18, 2012, and her third novel 3:59 – sci fi doppelganger horror about two girls who are the same girl in parallel dimensions who decide to switch places – is scheduled for Fall 2013. Gretchen’s new YA contemporary series Don’t Get Mad (Revenge meets The Breakfast Club) about four very different girls who form a secret society where they get revenge on bullies and mean girls begins Fall 2014 with GET EVEN, followed by the sequel GET DIRTY in 2015, also with Balzer + Bray.
Gretchen is a former coloratura soprano, the voice of Mary on G4′s Code Monkeys and she sings with the LA-based circus troupe Cirque Berzerk. Gretchen blogs with The Enchanted Inkpot and is a founding member of the vlog group the YARebels where she can be seen as “Monday.” She is repped by Ginger Clark of Curtis Brown, Ltd.