Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Victoria Schwab Sits Down with Guest Blogger Melissa Hill

Today's interview with Victoria Schwab kicks off the first post in a three month guest slot from Melissa Hill, winner of GotYA's Do the Write Thing for Nashville auction item. Look for more great posts from Melissa in July and August.


Victoria Schwab is the product of a British mother, a Beverly Hills father, and a southern upbringing. Because of this, she has been known to say "tom-ah-toes", "like", and "y'all". She also tells stories.

Your debut, THE NEAR WITCH is scheduled to be released next summer. Can you tell us about the story?

- There’s an old ghost story in the town of Near. It tells of a witch that lived on the edge of the village, and gobbled up all the darkness, and sang the hills to sleep, and loved the children almost as much as the garden she kept beside her house.
Sixteen-year-old Lexi Harris has heard the stories her entire life. Everyone loves to tell the story, but everyone knows a different ending. Some say that the Near Witch blew away on a gust of wind. Others tell of darker things. Of murders and curses and buried bones. To Lexi, they’ve always been stories, nothing more. But when a strange and silent boy walks into the village of Near, and the wind begins to lure children from their beds at night, she starts to wonder if there’s any truth in them. Could the Near Witch be more than a ghost story?

When writing THE NEAR WITCH, was there a character that surprised you?

-NW actually went through a TON of revision (when it sold it was just this skinny little fairy tale) and over the course of those edits almost every one of my characters really surprised me. It's been an adventure getting to know them.

There is a lot of information about querying agents. Can you talk about what happens once you get to “yes”?

-When you say "yes", you eat a cupcake. It's mandatory. Then, you generally revise for your agent, tighten the book up, and send it out on submission!

How do you deal with the waiting game? Waiting to hear from agents? Waiting to hear from publishers? Waiting for your novel to debut?

-I don't deal well. Anyone who has followed me online, via blog or twitter, knows that I am HORRIBLE at waiting. Like, child-throwing-tantrum awful. I try to distract myself, but nothing makes it better. And there's A LOT of waiting. AND, what I've found is that news you're waiting on never comes while you're waiting. It waits until you FINALLY manage to distract yourself.

What are you working on now?

-Right now I'm finishing up the very last edits on THE NEAR WITCH, and working on the first draft of what will hopefully be the book to hit shelves after NW. I'm not allowed to say anything about it YET :p

What authors/books influenced you the most?

-Oh, HARD question. I would say, at the moment: Brothers Grimm (fairy tale influence), Neil Gaiman (all-around brilliant), Cassandra Clare (for her incredible sense of pacing), and Kristin Cashore (for her world-building).

Do you have any advice for the aspiring author?

-Finish the book. You'll hit this place, normally, where you kind of slow, or another shiny new idea distracts you, and you'll want to wander off. DON'T DO IT. Finish the book.

What is the most recent book you’ve read that you couldn’t put down

-INFINITE DAYS by Rebecca Maizel. It comes out this August, and I LOVE IT. I almost never re-read books because I have SO many books to read, but I'm thinking of re-reading this one soon.

What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not writing?

Eat chocolate, and exercise. The two don't seem to go together, but they go together VERY well. Namely I eat chocolate, and then I exercise. Sometimes I mix it up and exercise first.

You’ve worked a lot different jobs—caterer, personal chef, doggy daycare, etc. What was your favorite? Do you find inspiration from them now as a writer?

-It's going to sound wrong, but I draw inspiration from wanting to get OUT of those jobs. Writing is my dream job. The worst jobs I've had turned into motivation to hone my writing and get closer to publication. The best jobs I've had were fun and yes, sometimes inspired my work. The thing that most often inspires me is just watching and listening, when I'm on a walk, or working, or sitting on a bench somewhere.

On your blog, you have an awesome chocolate chip cookie recipe. Any other chocolate indulgence recipes you’d like to share?

-One of my favorite chocolate treats is SO easy. You take a box devil's food cake mix, and add two eggs, 1/2 cup oil, and choco. chips, and bake at 350 for about 8-10 minutes. Chocolate cake cookies. SO GOOD.

Thanks Victoria! Can’t wait to read THE NEAR WITCH (August 2011 by Disney Hyperion). You can find Victoria at


Jessie said...

The ladies at Oasis for YA have given you a blog award because we love this blog. Please come check it out.

Melody said...

Finish the book. Best advice ever.
Oh, and I used to reward myself for running a mile...with chocolate. It worked, too. Oh, how easily manipulated I am. :)

Kathleen said...

Great interview!

The bit about the day jobs really hit home.

Tahereh said...

fantastic interview!!


Leah said...

Ooh, LOVED the interview. Thanks for the great info!

Hmath said...

Mmm...If I ever got to the "Yes" stage, I don't know that it'd be a cupcake. Maybe it'd be a pizza. Or a steak. Or a pint of ice-cream. Or those cookies you mentioned at the end of the post :)

Great post.

(Man, I shouldn't comment right before dinner.)

Jessie - checking out the blog now!

Annie McElfresh said...

Awesome post Melissa!! Welcome to GotYA!! :)

Victoria Schwab said...

Melody, thank you! It really is the best advice I have. I've met some seriously talented writers who don't become authors because they can't FINISH the book.

Kathleen, thank you! And yeah, I've been lucky in that, being 22, I haven't had years and years of day jobs building up that resentment and need for escape, but the jobs I HAVE held have been enough to push me down my path to publication :p

TH I LOVE YOU!!!!!!! ~*~*~*~

Leah, thank you so much! I'm happy to be gracing this blog.

Hmath, no one says you can't have a cupcake AND a pizza, or cookie, or what have you, but I'm quite sure the cupcake part is mandatory.


J.S. Wood said...

Awesome interview, Melissa. Thanks so much! And a big thanks to Victoria, that book sounds great - I love fairy tale elements!

Debra Driza said...

Great interview, ladies! Am now wondering how fast I can get to the store to pick up those cookie recipes.

Oh, and sometimes I eat chocolate WHILE working out--it's just such a versatile duo.