As you may or may not know, I turned fifteen at the beginning of February. My age is not something I usually advertise, though I don't try to hide it. However, when Anna Waggener* approached me with the 21 Minus Blog Tour, how could I resist?
The 21 Minus Blog Tour is, as suggested by the title, made up of writers under the age of twenty-one. Today, March 2, the twelve of us are posting interviews with one another. However, no one knows who interviewed them because all questions were sent anonymously through Anna.
I was chosen to interview Kate Coursey. Hi, Kate! -waves-
Brooke: All of your previous novels have been YA/MG fantasy, sometimes coupled with historical fiction. From your blog, I have gathered that your newest project is contemporary. How does it feel to be working on a new genre? How do these two genres differ and how are they alike, as in content and your writing process?
Kate: Although I’m now writing stories in a contemporary setting, my work is still fantasy. I absolutely love the change. Contemporary is nice for me, as a teenager, because it’s very easy to slip into the protagonist’s voice, and I don’t have to do quite as much research regarding historical dialects and customs. The ease of world-building in contemporary fantasy is truly a relief for someone so used to historical. However, the essence of the characters remains the same. Emotions and relationships are universal, so in that sense the two genres don’t differ. It’s the main character’s internal journey that really brings a story to life.
B: You obtained an agent at the age of seventeen. How did you inform him and other agents that offered representation that you were underage? Did you mention it in your query letter or after the fact? Is this the method you suggest for other underage aspiring authors?
K: I personally decided not to reveal my age in query letters. Age can bias an agent against you before they even read sample pages, and I wanted my writing to stand on its own, without the agents’ preconceived notions about teenage writers. That being said, two of the six agents who offered representation already knew I was 17 (Edward, because I came to him through a referral, and a second agent who I’d met in person). When I informed offering agents of my age, most of them were surprised but not put off. I would definitely recommend this route to other young aspiring authors. You don’t want agents to make snap judgements based on an ultimately insignificant number.
B: You are represented by Edward Necarsulmer IV, an agent who you heard about through a referral. Tell us about him. How is working with him? Is he helpful in your creative process? Would you recommend him to others?
K: Yes, I came to Edward through a referral from client Alane Ferguson. Edward is absolutely wonderful. He’s very well-established, business-savvy, smart, and fully dedicated to his clients. Working with him is a dream come true. Over the past eight months we’ve collaborated to revise AILLEA’S CARDS, and the notes he’s given me have been spot-on. Rather than simply asking me to change parts of my manuscript, he encourages me to delve deeper, to discover solutions that fit within my creative vision for the story as a whole. I think a big part of it is finding an agent with that same creative vision. Edward and I make a very good team, and I would certainly recommend him to any and all aspiring YA authors.
B: Teen Eyes is an editing business you run with your friend, Taryn. What do you edit and what are your fees? Why do you think being teen editors gives you an edge?
K: Taryn and I started Teen Eyes back in August. We focus on YA novels, although I also do some MG editing as well. You can find a list of our fees and services at http://teeneyeseditorial.blogspot.com (I don’t want to bore you with a list of prices). I think being teen editors gives us an edge because we have a better and more involved understanding of what modern teenagers go through. Considering rapid technology changes over the past decade, high school is very different now than it was 10, 20, 30 years ago. Obviously I can’t speak for all our clients, but I believe many of them appreciate the fresh, younger perspective we bring to the table, since YA fiction is aimed at teenagers.
B: You are also part of a teen blog, Noveltee(n), which is currently on hiatus until it can find more contributors. What are you looking for in prospective contributors? Why do you think people should become part of this endeavor?
K: Noveltee(n) is currently on hiatus due to lack of contributors as well as time constraints. Taryn and I are very busy, what with college, work, writing, editing, sports, and volunteering. We are hopeful, however, that Noveltee(n) will be revived with brand new contributors, perhaps sometime next year. Noveltee(n) started as a way to connect teenage novelists. I think it’s a great site for teens who want to network, and if we do decide to put out a call for contributors we’ll be looking for dedicated, eloquent teen bloggers who are willing to fully commit to the blog.
B: One of your biggest beliefs as a teen writer revolves around the way older writers see you. You do not want to be looked down upon because of your age. Yet, sometimes it happens. How do you think your writing career would have gone if you had waited until you were older to start writing? Do you feel you would have been less successful, more, the same?
K: There are certainly prejudices surrounding teen writers. Industry professionals don’t take young people as seriously, and mentioning age can have a negative effect during the querying process. Personally, I think age has been an asset to my career, mainly due to the PUSH Novel Contest. Working with Scholastic opened so many doors for me and I will be eternally grateful. Once published, I know my book will benefit from the marketing angle of being a young author. It’s difficult to deal with those people who look down upon me, or treat me as a child, but in the end I’m so glad to have discovered my passion at a young age.
21 Minus Bonus Question: If you had to describe your latest WIP in one word, what would it be?
If you enjoyed Kate's answers, be sure to come back later in the month. She will be guest posting on my blog. Exact date to be announced.
*Don't forget to stop by Anna's blog to check out the book giveaway and other participants. Remember, one of them interviewed me!