Nina and I met serendipitously. Once upon a time, my YA novel was titled…you guessed it: OTHERKIN. I’d done some research on the Otherkin movement to inspire my WIP and the word just stuck. With my first publishing contract under my belt, I decided to look into some of the bigger Otherkin sites and see if there were any who’d be interested in doing a feature on my book. I typed it into Google and low and behold, Nina’s Amazon listing popped up. My mouth gaped as I stared at her beautiful cover art.
“Maybe it’s not YA,” I comforted myself. But one look confirmed: YA.
“It’s probably old,” I tried again. I scanned the page: releasing at the end of the month.
That’s when my inner fear monger went, Oh crap. I took a deep breath, plastered on my best stay-positive smile, and emailed my publisher the link. Time to get creative.
I could have wallowed in the unfairness of it all, but I’ve been learning a thing or two about being proactive. So instead, I got busy thinking up alternatives. And to keep it interesting, I ran a poll with my top three choices to see what the readers would favor. Meanwhile, I contacted Nina and introduced myself. I told her how I’d come to learn about her book. She decided, much like I had, to think that we were at the head of a fabulous new trend. I’ve been a supporter of hers ever since!
In the end, I got a new title that fits my work even better, I gained a valuable author ally, and I get to giveaway (and read myself) an amazing new book! Does it get better?
When life throws you lemons— or Amazon listings with your coveted title—, don’t pucker up. Add your own ingredients and make the best of it: lemonade, lemon meringue pie, or my personal fave, lemon drop martinis!
Now, put on your best black and orange for Halloween, and get a little wild with Nina’s interview and your own copy of OTHERKIN! Enjoy ~Anna Silver
1. Give us a little background info on you; who is Nina Berry?I’m a redhead who grew up in
2. When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?I wrote my first story when I was four, titled “The Cat and Dad.” It used all ten of the words I knew how to spell. I even illustrated it with really terrible stick figures. I kept on writing after that, but I didn’t have much direction with my writing until after a close friend died a few years back. Losing her made me realize how short a time we all have, and I really knuckled down and just wrote wrote wrote. I decided to write for teens because that was a really important time in forming who I am now, and the books I read at that age are some of my favorites still today.
3. What was your inspiration for OTHERKIN and why a tiger?Two very different ideas collided to make Otherkin. I had a back brace as a teen, and that experience had a big effect on how I saw myself. So I wanted to write about that, but I didn’t quite know how. Along the way, while playing Dungeons & Dragons (yep, geek girl here) I created a character who could change into a tiger. The tiger is an amazing animal. Imagine a gorgeous creature weighing 500 pounds that can move in complete silence, or sprint up to 50 miles per hour. They can kill a bear with their paws and crush bones with their jaws. Tigers are masters of their domain; they never apologize, and they don’t worry what people think of them. That’s an attitude very different from mine, so it was a ton of fun to play.
Then I started thinking – how would my life have been different if I’d found out I could change into a tiger while I was wearing the brace? Would changing my shape lead to a change in perspective? So I wrote a story about a girl with a back brace who learns she can shape shift into a tiger. Add some action-adventure and romance and you’ve got Otherkin.
4. Tell us about your main character. Where did Dez come from?Dez is the character closest to myself that I’ve ever written, so she was tough to write at times. We share a lot – the frustration at having a back brace, the initial shyness around boys, the desire to do the right thing but feeling uncertain that she knows what’s best.
That said, she has a lot of other characteristics that aren’t like me – and I don’t just mean that she can turn into a tiger (although that’s a biggie and I just had to use my imagination for that!) The biggest difference is that she’s adopted, which I was not. I had to draw on knowledge gained from friends and acquaintances who were adopted for that part of her. Not that every adopted person feels like Dez – but for her it amplifies the feeling that she’s out of place, that she doesn’t belong. And of course, in many ways, she doesn’t belong! But that’s okay.
5. In the spirit of OTHERKIN, what would you choose to become if you could be something other than human?I should probably say tiger, since that’s my favorite animal, and it’s what Dez changes into. But tigers don’t fit easily into our world today. They’re hunted relentlessly for their body parts, or put in zoos or a cage in someone’s back yard. I’d have a tough time roaming around my neighborhood as a tiger.
So I think I’d pick a bird – maybe a hawk or an eagle, something that was still fierce, but that could fit into the landscape a bit more easily. Plus then I’d be able to fly, and that has always been something I’ve longed to do – swooping over the city at dusk, winging my way off to the mountains or the beach. That would be amazing.
6. How did you find your agent and/or publisher?I queried agents with a different book, one I wrote before Otherkin. I collected a lot of nice rejections, which was encouraging enough to get me to write a second book, Otherkin. While I was querying it, I entered a contest on the Guide to Literary Agents blog (http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents) and submitted my query letter and first three pages for agent Tamar Rydzinski to evaluate. I didn’t win the contest, but I got something much better – Tamar asked to read more of the book and ended up offering me representation. It was thanks to her the book sold fairly quickly after that in a two-book deal. So the sequel will be out January 31 next year, and the third book will likely be out late in 2013.
7. OTHERKIN is your YA debut, so what surprised you most about the publishing process?How nice, helpful, and smart everyone is! One of the highlights of my life was my first phone call with my editor at Kensington. She really got my book at a level I’d only dreamed of. I felt really understood. It was amazing. Everyone at Kensington has been fantastic, and other YA authors have been incredibly kind. It’s really tough to get into this world, but once you’re here, there’s a lot of support. Not that getting published solves anything really. It just presents a new set of problems. But I’m thrilled to be part of the community.
8. What tidbits of advice would you give to aspiring authors out there?Let’s see:
1. Write a lot and finish what you write.
2. Keep trying to improve your craft.
3. Do your research on finding the right agent or publisher for you. I often get asked “How do I find an agent?” The lovely thing is that we now have this thing called the internet. I swear, if you Google that very question, you’ll find a ton of resources. So start researching.
4. Be patient, both with yourself, and with the publishing process. So don’t rush your book out to an agent or editor before it’s really ready. Then be prepared to do more rewriting for both agent and editor. You might need to write more than one thing before it gets published.
5. Be prepared to do a lot of marketing yourself. Get on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, or whatever other social media you like. But don’t do the hard sell. Just be yourself. Network with other writers and join organizations related to your genre, if any exist.
6. Even before you qualify as a professional, act like one. If you don’t take writing seriously as your career, nobody else will.
9. If you had to attribute your success as a writer to one thing, one quality, what would it be?Persistence. You’re going to face a lot of rejection, so you have to find enough belief in yourself to keep going in the face of that. Yes, writing ability is important, so cultivate that too. But without persistence that writing will get you nowhere.
10. Name three books that impacted your love of reading or style of writing in a big way.Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
11. What are you working on now?Book 3 in the Otherkin series. I’m outlining and brainstorming. I’m also researching an idea I have for the book after that, rewriting a TV pilot script, and writing an essay for the LA Review of Books. A writer’s work is never done.
12. Where can people find you and your book online?I’m online at ninaberry.com, on Twitter as @Ninaberry, and Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/writerninaberry. My book’s available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, in both hard copy and electronic formats, also at the Sony Reader Store, and at an independent book store near you! Thanks, Anna!
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