Interview with Roxanne Price

roxheadshotoneRoxanne Price is an author of Women’s Fiction and Young Adult Fiction, most recently with her YA Urban Fantasy novel, The Queen of All Fates, which is slated for release later this year. With a Master’s degree in Education, Roxanne is an English teacher and lives with her wonderfully supportive husband, two rambunctious children, an over-weight cat and a partridge in a pear tree.

1.  How much writing did you do before being published?

I’ve been writing for about five years. The early years looked a lot more like a hobby and a lot less disciplined, but with a one year old and a full time job, just sleeping through the night was an accomplishment. Since then, I’ve written two full novels, with The Queen of All Fates my third, and if all goes well, my first published book.

2.  What was the path to publication for The Queen of All Fates?

To be fair, I’m not published—yet. I had decided to self-publish my current manuscript after watching several of my dear writer friends go down the self-publishing path and experience immense success. Seeing them take their passion and turn it into a livable income was inspiring. But I’ve also been fortunate enough to meet with some incredible agents who have expressed some interest. Now I’m trying to weigh it all and make the decision that will work best both for the novel and for my career, long-term. It’s all super confusing but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Okay, that’s a lie. I’d totally trade it for a bidding war that earns me a six-figure advance. A girl can dream, can’t she?

3.  What is Urban Fantasy?

Technically, Urban Fantasy is defined as a sub-genre of Fantasy that is set in an urban location. But to me, Urban Fantasy is more than that. It is the place where the life we lead meets the one we often wish for, the one filled with magic and myth. It’s the struggle between right and wrong with the added element of fantasy in locations that look like the ones we live in, that take place in the times we’re living.

4.  What other genres do you write?

I currently write YA Urban Fantasy and Women’s Contemporary Fiction. I’ve got a hankering to write a Middle Grades Fantasy, because quite frankly, it’s that age where you still *really* want to believe in magic. And magic is cool. Very cool.

5.  Do you ever struggle with categorizing a particular manuscript into a particular genre?

Absolutely. I had this issue with my Women’s Contemporary Fiction, All the Broken Pieces. It’s has a very strong Magical Realism streak, but trying to explain Magical Realism to people often gets you funny looks. What I try to do is find other books that I think are similar to mine, and then see what they’ve been marketed as. And I’m a big believe that it really doesn’t matter what genre your book is; a strong pitch will get you in the door and a great story is what sells.

6.  What do you hope will be the path to publication for All the Broken Pieces?

I’m not sure right now. I’m really doing a lot of work with The Queen of All Fates, so All the Broken Pieces is kind of my step-child right now. I loved it, and I still do, but I can only handle one diva manuscript at a time. And The Queen of All Fates is a demanding thing.

7.  How did you find your agent?

Since I’m still searching, this question is timely. I feel like it’s this online dating thing, where you put all your pretty pictures up and write witty things and pray that some amazingly great person will pick you out of the thousands of other profiles with perfect pictures and witty repartee. But I’ve had some wonderful opportunities with some fabulous agents, most of whom I’m met at conferences. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done the query letter route (a painful road at that), but I find that conferences give you an amazing opportunity to talk with people. It’s much more difficult to get rid of someone sitting in front of you than it is to hit the delete button on your email.

8.  I’ve often wondered how a music teacher, who obviously loves music, can stand to listen to the screeching that comes out of certain instruments when a beginner is learning. As a writer, what is it like to teach English?

It’s amazing and frustrating and inspiring all at once. I work at a very socio-economically challenged school, and many of my students are impoverished. This alone is a challenge; how do you get a kid to want to learn when they don’t know if they’re going to eat that day. But this also means that when you break through, when they “get it,” it’s this amazing moment where you get to share in the joy they feel in learning something that will stay with them always. It’s a privilege, really, one that I’m thankful for all the time.

9. What is your favorite electronic or digital writing tool?

I will now solidify my status of being super lame; Microsoft Word. I know, I know, with all the technology in the writing world, you would think I would have something sexier than MS Word. But I don’t.

Oh, wait. If you’re a masochist, or ever thought you might like to try it, go check out www.writeordie.com. It will solve your writer’s block.

10. What is your favorite non-electronic writing tool?

Pen and paper. Old fashion, always available, doesn’t suffer from battery or memory failure. It works every time.

11. What is the most persistent distraction from writing?

Facebook. Seriously, if Mark Zuckerberg were a drug dealer, he’d be the Pablo Escobar of the internet. Minus the fatal gunshot wound.

12. What is your ideal writing environment? Have you ever been able to create it?

I need silence when I write, which usually means I have to stay up late at night or wake up early in the morning. Otherwise I’m stuck trying to convince my almost-six year old that she’s not too big for naps. What I’d love is an office where I can close my door, write for most of the morning, and finish by lunch. Four hours a day of quiet production. But until then, it’s me and the kitchen table at 2 a.m.

13. Many writers go through a stage when they hate what they’re writing. Do you ever feel this way?

Every single time. This is my constant struggle. I’m a voracious reader and I know good writing, which is a blessing and a curse. It means I can never live up to my own standards. Ira Glass, from “This American Life” said it perfectly;

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

14. What is your revision process?

I cannot stand to edit, so I tend to write at a slower pace, but I take time to reread and rewrite along the way. I frontload my work so that I can avoid as much revision as possible. My critique partner recently shared some revision advice; one scene a day. I’m think I’m going to try that with my next manuscript.

15. Has an editor ever insisted on changes you were reluctant to make?

I’ve written a memoir-ish piece that I’m reading on stage in May. The producers of the show mentioned that they have some suggestions for changes they’d like to see. I’m dreading it, for the simple fact that it’s personal and I know that whatever gets cut is gonna be something that meant something to me. But so goes the life of a writer.

16. What social media do you use? Do you use them solely for promotion, or do you have fun?

I’m a facebook and blog fan. I tried twitter, but I’m not a good tweeter (that sounds wrong. On another note, I did get sorted into Ravenclaw on Pottermore…but I digress). I use them for promotional and entertainment purposes, but I’d say my blog is probably where I share my most honest moments. I’m a wordy chick, and it gives me the space to explain the hot mess of my mind.

17. I’m about to go to my first writers’ conference. What advice do you have for me?

Network, network, network. Conferences are an amazing opportunity to connect with people who know people. And if there is anything I’ve learned about the publishing community, it’s more about who you know than you’d expect. Also, if they’ve got a pitch session, do it. You’ll most likely be scared and need to pee several times leading up to it, but it’s such a great chance for writers to get their story out there.

18. If you’ve never seen a Star Wars movie all the way through, just how much of a Star Wars movie have you seen?

Although I haven’t sat in front of a screen and watched a movie from beginning to end, I’d argue that collectively, my exposure to Star Wars is equivalent to having watched all six episodes several times. I’m married to a big fan, so it’s one of those movies that’s constantly on…while I’m sitting at the table writing, because I was too tired to wake up early, the kids didn’t want to nap, and quite frankly, if I’m up late one more night, I’m going to be a zombie.

19. What about Star Trek?

Do I win something if I say yes? I grew up watching Star Trek: The Original Series re-runs, and was a big fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

20. Who shot first, Han or Greedo?

Much to my dear husband’s chagrin, I am devoid of the correct answer as I have yet to a) watch it all the way through, and b) watch both versions. But, I’m aware that this is a great debate, and one in which I cannot offer a solid opinion. Instead I will proclaim my love for Princess Leia’s bun rolls and the fact that Hans Solo is definitely the hottest guy in tights I’ve seen.

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About AmyBeth Inverness

A writer by birth, a redhead by choice.
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