Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Interview with Adrienne Quintana, author of ERUPTION

by Merry Gordon

Her 2013 NaNoWriMo game was so hardcore that she finished a book on November 1st.

Her techno-thriller Eruptionalready generating buzz on Publisher's Weekly and Goodreadsofficially hits the shelves in January courtesy of Cedar Fort Publishing & Media.

And to top it all off, she has ridiculously perfect hair.  

(I would know.  I sit behind her in church.)

She's Adrienne Quintana, Mormon Mommy Writer extraordinaire, and she's ready to dish—on publishing, on comfort food, on the myth of "having it all"—in today's blog.

Talk to me about Eruption.  What inspired it? 

A:  I’m a daydreamer.  My kids call it “zoning out.”  The idea for The Tablet struck me near the end of 2012 while I was driving down I-10 in Phoenix on my way to pick up the kids from school.  I don’t recommend completely zoning out on the freeway, but a quiet car on a long commute can be a great place to ponder the universe and come up with cool story ideas.

The concept started out simple: a girl finds a tablet with strange pictures on it.  As she investigates further, she discovers that the pictures are from the future.  Her future.

The Tablet didn’t turn into Eruption until almost a full year later when I finally decided to take the simple idea and run with it. I sat down and started answering questions.  Why was the tablet sent back in time? Who sent it? How was it sent? Then I zoned out in front of my laptop for the next two months.  

As a writer, how do you know when you’ve written something good?—not necessarily perfect, but that “ooooh” moment when you know you’ve just nailed it and have something solid to work with as a draft?

A:  My mom is probably one of the most positive people on the planet, and I’m guessing that is part of why I’m not overly self-critical. Self-confidence is essential when busting out a first draft.  I can’t keep going back to change things.  I have to be like the contestants on American Idol and just sing my little heart out.  The judges can smack me down later. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy the performance.

As long as I feel entertained and inspired while I’m writing, I assume that the concept is good.  Then I rely on people I trust to help me refine and edit.  I felt like I was on to something with Eruption when my test readers finished the book quickly and gave good feedback.  It wasn’t perfect, but I was ready to start shopping the manuscript around.

You’re a writer.  But you’re also a wife and a mom of four, in addition to being a woman who finds time to exercise, serve in church callings, and manage more than sweats and ponytails on any given day.   Tell me a little about the life/work balance.  There’s so much societal pressure for women to “have it all” – is that possible?

A:  I firmly believe that no human can “have it all” or “do it all.” I couldn’t do it all when I was a working mom putting my husband through Law School.  I couldn’t do it all with four young children.  I couldn’t do it all when I went back to school.  I will never be able to do it all. But I can do enough.  With Heavenly Father’s help, I can be enough. 

I love Ecclesiastes chapter 3 where it talks about times and seasons.  Heavenly Father is aware of the seasons of your life.  He knows your desires, goals, and dreams.  Don’t be afraid to tell him what you want.  He wants you to succeed and he will help you.

To accomplish something as time consuming as writing a novel, I had to learn to simplify my life.  I said no to non-essentials.  My housekeeping suffered.  My laundry piled up.  I wore plenty of ponytails. But I made sure to let my family know that they were still my top priority.  I made a commitment that if my pre-schooler asked me for something while I was writing, I would stop and meet her needs.

Multi-tasking is my best friend.  I write when I have any spare time.  I write in the carpool lane.  I write in my head while I’m at hot yoga or doing dishes.  I write at midnight.  I try to embrace every spare minute to work toward my goals. I try to be thankful for the time that I do have instead of wishing for more time.

How do you react to a bad review/critique of your work?  What is it that makes you get back up on the proverbial horse?

A:  Bad reviews and critiques sting but I have a lot of experience getting over the pain.  My grandpa has been dishing out constructive criticism since the day I was born. He told my parents I was ugly. He said I’d look much better if I’d just get bigger like everyone else and grow some hair. It turns out, he was right. 

Again, with criticism, I try to channel my mom’s positive vibes.  When someone gives her a pile of horse poop, she immediately starts looking for the pony.  I figure that if someone cares enough to read the entire book and offer me feedback, I should take it as a compliment.  If the criticism rings true, I try to use it to improve. If it doesn’t, I just try to let it go and move on.  My writing is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. 

What do you know now about publishing that you wish you’d known when you began writing?

A:  Most of what I’ve learned about publishing, I’m glad I didn’t know when I started writing.  The editing process was a real eye-opener.  After almost a year of self-editing, I was surprised at the number of changes that still needed to be made to the story. Eruption was like my baby, and they were asking me to slice and dice and move and cut and paste and sew it back together.  It was gut-wrenching and time consuming, but so worth the end result. My little Frankenstein baby turned better than I could have imagined.

Another thing I’ve learned about publishing is that building relationships is paramount.  Get to know everyone. I have been fortunate to work with wonderful people. The cover artist, Kristen Reeves, took my ideas and made them come to life.  My editor, Daniel Friend, helped me see things from the reader’s perspective.  My copy editor, Melissa Caldwell, had eyes to catch the small details.  My publicist, Kelly Martinez, is my best friend.  We call each other cousin.  These are all people who have helped to shape my success.  I know who they are and I appreciate each of them for their contribution.

How does your faith influence your writing, either in terms of content or practice?

A:  I hope that my faith is apparent in everything I do.  With writing specifically, I was conscious of keeping the content uplifting and appropriate for any age.  The character’s morals and values are in harmony with the gospel. I didn’t write or edit on Sunday.

On a deeply personal level,  Eruption is about Jace Vega’s relationship with her father. Her struggles mirror my own journey to feel the approval of both my earthly and Heavenly father.

Okay, let’s break it down by the numbers:

·         5 to-read books on your bedside table:

The Fault in Our Stars
The Hunger Games
Jane Eyre
The Hiding Place
Anne of Green Gables

·         4 authors you love:

Charlotte Bronte
Jane Austen
Dan Brown
C.S. Lewis

·         3 go-to comfort foods for those days when the plot unravels:

Chocolate chip cookies (made by my daughter Marina)
Chips and salsa
Lindor Truffles

·         2 times you knew you hit a breakthrough in your writing life:

1.       When I set a daily word count goal and stuck with it.
2.       When I realized that Eruption was about more than a girl with a tablet from the future.

·         1 piece of advice for newbie writers:

Don’t wait until you think you are good enough.  Start today.  


Can't wait for the release?  Enter here to win an ARC of Eruption and other prizes as we count down the days until January 13th!  You can also follow Adrienne on her blog, on Facebook,  and on Twitte@AdrienneQuintan.



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