Shari Becker grew up in in Montreal and now lives in Boston, where she is married and is raising two daughters with her husband John. Her first YA (young adult) novel has been published and there's a fascinating story behind it I found out when I interviewed her last month.
My two girls are 10 and 12. My older one is a voracious reader and my younger one is a voracious listener. They are both really into fantasy and adventure books, although my older one will pretty much read anything engaging from historical fiction to science fiction to the classics. I have just introduced her to Jane Austen, and I was surprised by how much she enjoyed it. My younger daughter has just discovered Percy Jackson, and she is hooked.
ANSDWER: You know, it’s quite challenging being a debut author these days. My name doesn’t sell books ... yet. (Here’s hoping.) The book got great reviews from School Library Journal, Booklist and Examiner.com, but it’s still hard to get the word out. As a YA writer I rely so much on word of mouth. I had a hugely successful book launch party at a local bookstore, and then I had another reading at a bookstore in Montreal. My publisher had me do a blog tour, where I essentially wrote guest pieces on about a dozen YA blogs. I’m out there on social media trying to create a presence. I see all these debut authors out there, hustling, trying to sell their books, traveling all over to conferences, but there are huge costs to that - time and money. I’m not convinced that helps book sales anymore. I’m trying to stay focussed on building a library of content. If a kid likes my book, I want them to be able to go into a library or book store and say, “What else did she write?” So I’m trying to stay focussed on new projects and think of this as a long, slow journey instead of a sprint.
Originally the book was written as a stand-alone with the possibility of a sequel. I love that it has an open ending, but a lot of readers are really anxious to know what happens next. I recently sent in a proposal for a sequel, and I’m hopeful the publisher will pick it up.
BONUS QUESTION. How to find time and space, to write, as a mom a wife and a novelist ? What's yr secret to finding making time?
SHARI: ''A complicated question. It’s really about time management and self discipline. As my kids get older, finding time to write is getting easier. There were many years where I was totally unproductive because someone was sick all the time or because preschool ended at noon. I still only work during the school day, so my time is limited. I try not to over schedule myself, and I have learned to say “no” to invitations for lunches or coffees, and sadly even to volunteering for my kids’ schools or for organizations I really support. I have to guard my short work day fiercely. Of course, not sleeping is another way to be productive. Sadly, one of my biggest secrets to making time is my most unhealthy life habit, and that is doing a lot of work between the hours of 9 and 11 PM. It means I generally only get about 6 hours sleep. It’s one piece of my puzzle that I really need to figure out.''