Mary Kubica's novel, The Good Girl, is out tomorrow, but today she's answering a few questions for our Novelicious readers about her writing process and somewhat unusual path to publication a little ahead of launch day.
I’m definitely an early bird. I wake up at 5am everyday to get some writing done before my kids are awake. Once the family is up, writing can be much more difficult and much less planned. Depending on whether or not my kids are in school, or what other obligations I have for the day, two hours of writing each morning may be all that I have. As my children head off for full day school this fall, I’m looking forward to much more writing time in the future!
When you are writing, do you use any celebrities or people you know as inspiration?
What a great question! I don’t necessarily model my characters off of celebrities or people I know, and yet my characters are certainly a motley of people I’ve encountered or situations I’ve experienced in my life.
What is your favourite Women’s Fiction book of all time and why?
This is such a hard question! There are so many Women’s Fiction books I adore. I love Jodi Picoult, Jeannette Walls, Alice Hoffman, Ann Hood and more – I could go on and on. But one book that grabbed me when I read it, and has stuck with me for the many, many years since, is The Last Time They Met by Anita Shreve. An ingenious novel! The ending left me heartbroken and blindsided all at the same time – in a way that not every book can do. I had the opportunity to meet Ms. Shreve at my local bookstore during her Stella Bain book tour. What a thrill! It was truly an honor.
What is your writing process? Do you plan first or dive in? How many drafts do you do?
I dive right in! I don’t outline and I rarely take notes. I’m a bit of a perfectionist and so I have trouble moving past a chapter until it’s in tiptop shape. I stick to one, maybe two, drafts, revising as I go so that by the time I reach the end I have a solid manuscript. Then I read this over once or twice – making some minor changes as I go – and it’s off to my editor!
What was your journey to being a published author?
I believe my journey to being a published author is a bit unique – and will hopefully offer some inspiration for aspiring authors. After I finished The Good Girl, I submitted it to numerous literary agencies and, although there was some interest, it was declined by all. I was convinced that any hope of a writing career was through.
Nearly two years passed when I received an out-of-the-blue email from one of the agents who had read The Good Girl; the book had stuck with her all those years and she wanted to represent it! Needless to say, I was delighted. We worked together to make some revisions to the text, and began to submit the manuscript to publishers. I couldn’t have been happier than the day I signed a contract with Harlequin MIRA! It’s been a long road, with plenty of ups and downs, but I’m thrilled with the way everything has worked out.
What do you think is the biggest myth about being a novelist?
I’m not sure if this is a myth or not, but it certainly came as a surprise to me: writing a novel is by no means a one-person task. I’ve learned that book publication is a conglomeration of ideas between author, editor, agent, and others on the publication team. While the author may be the one to put the ideas on paper, it’s not as isolated of a profession as some may think. Book publication is a team effort.
What advice can you give to our readers who want to write a novel of their own?
Never give up! As someone once said to me: it only takes one agent or publisher to love your work, so go out and find that one. My road to publication has certainly not been what I expected. There have been rocky points all along the way, but I couldn’t have been happier with the way everything worked out. There were definitely times I thought pursuing a career as an author was an impossible notion – that it would never happen – and yet surprisingly it has! It can happen for you too. Write, edit, submit, repeat… write, edit, submit, repeat – until you find that one agent or publisher who loves your work (and then be prepared to edit some more).
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m finishing up my second novel, another suspense tale set in the Midwestern United States. This one is about a Chicago woman who encounters a young homeless girl with a baby, and decides to help the girl with her plight. As she does, she discovers more about the girl – as well as herself – discovering a past that perhaps should have remained uncovered.