Novelist and poet Liz DeJesus has been writing for as long as she was capable of holding a pen. With First Frost, her exciting fairy tale-themed YA entry, she is making quite an impression with significant interest already developing for a sequel! Here we find out more about the author and why she feels that she is “right where I’m supposed to be.”
YOUNG ADULT: What made you decide to start writing?
Liz DeJesus: I’ve wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. Mostly because I wanted to be just like my mom. But I decided to take it seriously when I was eighteen years old. All I could think about were my characters and what they were going to do next.
YA: Tell us a little bit about your latest work. What is different about First Frost?
LDJ: What makes First Frost different are the characters and the fact that Bianca is able to use the items inside the museum to her advantage. Red Riding Hood’s cape can put you on the right path. A brick from the Third Little Pig’s house can become an indestructible house. And there are other items in the museum that I’ll leave as a surprise for the reader. 😉
It’s just a great and fun story!
YA: Take us through a typical writing day for you.
LDJ: Well since I have two little boys (a four year old and a one and a half year old) I have to take care of them first thing in the morning. Usually by around eleven o’clock they’ve settled down and are happily watching cartoons so I can take my notebook out and write. I’ll either work on a new story or revise my latest work in progress. I’ve taught myself to write anytime, anywhere because if I keep waiting for this magical quiet time I’ll never write. I’ll write while I’m cooking, when I’m in the parking lot waiting for my son to get out of preschool and while my sons are watching Cars 1 and Cars 2 for the millionth time that day. I usually get about 2-3 pages every day.
YA: Can you describe the path to getting this work published? What were the challenges? What was easy about it?
LDJ: I actually did things the old fashioned way. I sent query letters to different agents and publishers, basically everyone in my Writer’s Market book. I got a lot of rejection letters but every once in a while I would get a personalized letter from an editor saying that they liked the idea for the story and they wished me luck getting it published. I even got a maybe from a publisher but they passed because they felt it was too Middle Grade for them, which was a bummer, but it let me know I was on the right track and that I had an amazing story in my hands.
The challenge was not letting myself get depressed over the rejection letters.
Finally, just when I was about to give up and go the self publishing route, I received an email from Musa Publishing. Apparently they had emailed me wanting to see the rest of my manuscript two weeks ago and for some reason that email went into my spam folder. I couldn’t believe it! They wanted my book enough to email me a second time. So I sent First Frost to the head editor at the time and waited. I made a few minor changes to the original manuscript and that led to an acceptance letter.
The easy part? Signing a contract and knowing that my novel had found a home! I love the staff and the other Musa Authors. I’ve already signed the contract for the sequel Glass Frost and I’ve finished the first round of edits.
YA: What were your specific influences for this book? Films, literature, other stories?
LDJ: I got the idea for First Frost while watching a commercial for a local children’s museum. Then I started thinking about why they didn’t have themed museums for kids, like a pirate museum or a fairy tale themed museum. Then it hit me; that would be a great idea for a story.
A lot of things influenced this book. Specifically fairy tales. I have been obsessed with fairy tales my whole life. Some of my favorite fairy tales are Snow White, Cinderella, Toads and Diamonds, Little Red Riding Hood, Puss in Boots and The Three Heads at the Well. I love the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen and Charles Perrault.
I’m also a huge fan of Brian Froud. He wrote and illustrated the books Faeries, Good Faeries Bad Faeries and How to See Faeries.
YA: If you hadn’t become an author, what path would your career have perhaps taken?
LDJ: I was always interested in becoming a teacher or a librarian. But I try not to dwell too much on the past. I think I’m right where I’m supposed to be.
For generations, the Frost family has run the Museum of Magical and Rare Artifacts, handing down guardianship from mother to daughter, always keeping their secrets to “family only.”
Gathered within museum’s walls is a collection dedicated to the Grimm fairy tales and to the rare items the family has acquired: Cinderella’s glass slipper, Snow White’s poisoned apple, the evil queen’s magic mirror, Sleeping Beauty’s enchanted spinning wheel…
Seventeen-year-old Bianca Frost wants none of it, dreaming instead of a career in art or photography or…well, anything except working in the family’s museum. She knows the items in the glass display cases are fakes because, of course, magic doesn’t really exist.
She’s about to find out how wrong she is.
Find out more about the author at www.lizdejesus.webs.com