Gennifer Albin is a recovering academic who realized she could write books of her own and discovered, delightfully, that people would read them. She lives in Kansas with her family and writes full-time. Her debut novel, Crewel, the first in a trilogy, will be published in October 2012 by FSG/Macmillan.
Can you tell us a bit about Crewel?
Crewel is about a sixteen year-old girl who is set to become a powerful Spinster in a world where women weave the very fabric of reality. The trouble is she doesn’t want the job.
What’s the connection between NaNoWriMo and Crewel?
I’d always wanted to write a book but every time I tried I abandoned it a few chapters in. My husband started to tease me that my obituary would read “author of the twenty most promising first chapters ever written.” So I decided to give NaNoWriMo a try, and up to the night before I was still toying with which story to work on. I posted my two ideas on the forum, and someone private messaged me and told me I was crazy if I didn’t write Crewel. I’m forever in her debt, because I started writing it the next day after the boost of confidence.
How did you come to find out about NaNoWriMo, and what convinced you to participate?
I kept hearing references to it on writing sites and a friend’s husband had done it the previous year, so I looked it up. I’m an incredibly competitive person and the idea of winning by writing a book really tempted me, so I signed up.
How complete was your book by the end of the event?
I think most of the main characters were there, a lot of the dialogue, and I knew the general trajectory. As it turns out I ended up hacking off the last 15k I wrote and putting it into the second book, so that left me with 35k of typos and half-baked scenes to work with. It lacked a middle, whole characters were missing and there was no worldbuilding, but I was so thrilled to have written 50k that I jumped into revisions in January.
What is your writing practice like? Do you tend to plot your writing in advance or do you prefer to fly by the seat of your pants?
I’m a little bit of both. While drafting I need freedom to explore, but I find just thinking about where I’m at in the story and what needs to happen helps me get going. I don’t outline until I have a full draft and then I do one to figure out what’s missing and what needs the most work.
What lessons did you learn from revising Crewel that surprised you? Any revision regimens you swear by?
I absolutely must revise using pen and paper. I didn’t have my own computer when I wrote Crewel, so I thought once I did I would start revising on the laptop. Nope, give me pen and paper or give me death. I work faster and more effectively seeing it on the page. A friend also recommended changing the font when you print it so it’s fresh to your eyes and that’s actually very helpful, too.
What was the process of shopping this book like?
It was a whirlwind. I was a stay-at-home mom when I wrote Crewel, and my husband watched the kids so I could go out and write at night. During the day while they napped or played, I would do research on agents and publishing, and I was prepared to hunker down for the long process of querying. To my surprise, I wound up with an agent and offers on the book within a month of finishing the novel. Go figure.
Are you taking part in NaNoWriMo this year?
Not only am I participating, I’m dying for it! As I type this I’m gearing up for a lot of travel promoting the book, and I just know that I’ll be ready to settle in and write during November. My username is Creweler—hold me to it!