Posted by: Natalie Hatch | September 28, 2009

Kicking Off Stephanie Bowe Week.

I just re-read that title and it does seem like we’re kicking Stephanie Bowe, but in the nicest possible way ever! Anyway this week we’re having  a look at a young lady who has just achieved a milestone in writing, she’s 15… yes repeat that 15, has written three full novels, had three american agents offering representation, and has signed with Ginger Clark of Curtis Brown Lit Agency America.  Quite a feat when you think she’s still at school having to contest with assignments and exams all the time.

We invited Steph to come on over to our blog and answer a few of our questions. I know she would have covered a lot of these issues on her blog ‘Hey Teenager of The Year’ , but I wanted to ask some difficult, hard hitting, nail biting questions of my own.

  • As a 15 yr old how awesome was it to say to people “I have an agent?”

It was wonderful to announce it on my blog. There was a long time where I just wished I could talk about it, but I was still making my decision, so I felt great after I did my announcement post.

I got congratulated by my family and the people I’ve told, but since it’s not something they know much about (the publishing industry) it wasn’t really such a big deal to them.

  • Can you tell us the reaction from your friends?

A friend of mine called last night. She’s the same age as me, and she’s an aspiring author as well. I told her about how I just signed with a literary agent, what lit agents do and how incredibly lucky I am to have found one so quickly and at such a young age.

In response, my friend says, “Guess what? I have a boyfriend now. He’s soooo cute.”

Sometimes I just have to laugh. Obviously cute boyfriend trumps literary agent.

  • Why did you start writing full length novels in the first place?

I’ve written three full length novels. The first two were duds. I finished my first novel a year and a half ago, but I’ve been writing my entire life, and my stories have gradually become longer and longer (and better and better!).

  • What advice do you have for other teens trying to finish a novel?

You have to write it. I meet a lot of teenagers who say they like to write, but when you ask them what they’ve written they go blank. You have to write, and write a lot, and you have to be willing to improve. Instead of watching TV or getting on Myspace, write. Make it part of your daily routine. Stick to one story. Stop planning it in your head and sit down and just write. Don’t censor yourself or edit mentally- save that for after. Just write.

  • On your blog you posted about how you don’t have much faith in yourself as a writer, how hard was it to then send off your novel to complete strangers? If you could do anything different about that experience what would it be?

I don’t have very much faith in my writing, but once a novel is finished (written and rewritten and rewritten) I always really want to send it out into the world – just have a go. I’m not the type of person who can just sit on something; by querying agents it helped me get that novel out of my head (at least for the time being – if it finds a publisher there’s sure to be rewrites) and get started on the next one.

The real hurdle for me is actually stopping myself from deleting works-in-progress – once something is finished, I have to do something with it other than delete it. It’s a contrary sort of attitude, and I frustrate myself no end.

The experience has been great when it comes to contacting agents and authors; everyone’s been lovely – if there’s one thing I could change, it would probably be the way I felt during the entire proceedings: sick with nerves. That feeling still hasn’t gone away, but I can feel excitement mingling with the nervousness.

  • So can you give us a sneak peek at your novel? Even if it’s just a logline.

I will reveal three things:

1) It begins with a girl saving a boy from drowning

2) It features a garden gnome thief and two ridiculously tall child prodigies

3) It is hopelessly romantic. It’s so unlike me that it’s kind of stupendous that I managed to write something so romantic.

I’ll be talking about plot specifics and other things on my blog once the novel goes out on submission.

  • Where to from here? What happens next now you’ve signed with an agent?

I’ll do some revisions based off my agent’s suggestions, then have it read by my trusty beta-readers. When the novel is ready, my agent will begin to shop it to publishers. At some point, an editor will hopefully love the novel like I do and choose to publish it – fingers crossed!

  • What do your family say about your writing? Have you ever let them see it?

It’s funny, because most of my family are non-readers apart from my grandfather, who reads lots of thriller and true crime stuff. But we do have a lot of non-fiction books around the house, and my parents read to me a lot when I was young (perhaps they sensed already that I wouldn’t become sporty like everyone else in the family).

I’ve been trying to convince my mum to read my current novel for a while. My nan read a previous novel, and she loved it (but I could have written absolute tripe; my nan is lovely. She reads my blog too and always tells me what she thinks of it when we’re on the phone). For a long time I was uncomfortable with them reading my work, but after a time of having other people critique it, it becomes a lot easier to hand it over to someone. That doesn’t mean I don’t worry about it the entire time!

But everyone in my family is definitely supportive of my writing, but it’s something I’ve done entirely on my own.

  • Finally, a few of the other authors have said they sometimes act out scenes to see if they’re physically possible etc etc. Have you tried this with your own writing? Which scene would you think was the best to try this with?

I’ve had a lot of people say to me that dialogue is one of my strengths and I think it’s because I say a lot of it aloud. I usually write conversations between characters by just talking out loud to myself and imagining their accents and speech nuances. Dialogue never really sounds false if I do this (unless it’s really late at night and I’ve been watching terrible, clichéd movies recently).

A lot of the time I have to remind myself to have characters interact with their surroundings – it often helps if I go back through a conversation and act out their body language, whether they’re touching or leaning against something, etc and add those details in. It makes for a much more rounded scene.

Thanks for stopping by Steph, we’re crossing our fingers for you that your revisions will go well and we’ll be seeing tall kids and gnome thieves on a bookshelf near us soon.

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Responses

  1. Yay Steph! So happy for you to get an agent.
    And I absolutely love your attitude towards writing and getting your work out there. I can think of a lot of aspiring writers of all ages who could learn from this approach…

  2. Congrats to you again Steph 🙂 You’re truly talented. I think there’re some good advice for aspiring writers in this interview. And it’s so good to learn a bit more about your story. I like the fact that it’s romantic 😀

  3. Congratulations Steph!! Wow. 15 years old, three novels experience and an agent up your sleeve – can someone say amazing? Her answer to question 4 is really helpful – something I need to do – ‘write’. I have a lot of plans and ideas and characters roaming around my head but I never get around to actually writing them. Reading about Steph though, you’re an inspiration! 🙂

    Really enjoyed the interview! I can’t wait to see your book in stores, because you WILL get published (Power of positive thinking, woo!).

  4. OMG! LOVE this table, the lamp, the curtains… everything! LOVE it! LOVE’d it so much I had to pin it!!!


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