It's been an exciting journey towards this moment - for us and debut author Liz de Jager. Now Banished is finally out this month, I asked Liz a few questions about the publishing process, random moments in the run up to launch and various cakes I discovered when editing! I was also keen to know how she manages to write when social media is such a big draw - and is second nature to Liz as she started out as a keen book blogger. You can also find an extract of Banished here, with those answers below...
What’s the main thing you’ve learnt about publishing, now you’re viewing it from an author rather than a blogger perspective?
The main thing I’ve learned about publishing in reality is how many cogs there in the machine that produces a book. Like most people, I had no idea what went into having your book bought and then seeing it published.
As a blogger I only ever saw the finished product when it arrived in the post - either the proof or the finished copy of the book. I knew how hard the publicity and marketing teams worked, because I saw evidence of that in the blog tours they organised, the adverts in magazines they set up and the ‘live’ appearances at bookshops they helped put together for the author. It was only when I started going to blogger and librarian exclusive events at publishing houses, which editors and other other staff members attended, that I got an inkling what went on behind the scenes. I found it fascinating, but also quite scary!
Was there anything about the publishing process that has surprised you?
Yes. How I felt so much part of Team Tor from day one. As a writer you graft into the small hours of the morning, before work, during lunch, after dinner. You completely tune out the world. Then you get an agent and you have this champion fighting in your corner. And they are passionate about you and your book and your skill as storyteller and it is so . . . peculiar. Then, your book sells, and you are taken under the wing of your editor and her assistant. Slowly you realize that although you do the writing all by yourself, you are no longer truly alone. And that’s the strangest thing to get used to. And how everyone is just so nice and patient with you. It was both a surprise and lovely.
There are so many more distractions now for the author with the advent of social media etc. And it must be so easy to just dip into twitter for ‘a few minutes’ when faced with that blank white screen waiting for words. How do you switch off and concentrate on writing?
I am the queen of twitter and social distractions. Oh my god. As of today (Friday, 7th Feb at 14:54) I’ve made 134,472 tweets. Do the maths, at 140 characters ... that’s a lot of words. Also: it is time spent talking to people about a lot of stuff.
The biggest thing I’ve learned about settling down to write is to turn the internet off and to give myself blocks of writing time. It’s also called the Pomodoro technique and it’s something I learned from a class I did with Beverley Birch at a SCBWI Conference. I give myself forty minute blocks to write in - I usually manage around a thousand words during this time, which is a decent chunk. I will then allow myself a break, to make tea, check up on the dog and my husband if I’m at home and maybe have a snack and then also check to see what’s happening on twitter/ tumblr/ facebook. I also make sure that if I make my word count of the day I treat myself - either an episode or two of a box set we’ve got lined up or a night out away from the computer.
What’s the most random thing you’ve done to prepare for publication of Banished?
Authors generally don’t get to do this, but Foyles asked if I’d be interested in helping source props for their “Staff Picks” window. They’ll be putting Banished in the window for a few weeks, which is exciting. This blew my mind because where do I even start? I’ve got a 17thC flintlock Italian pistol replica and so I thought, this would suit quite nicely but then Foyles told me the dimensions of the window and I realized that basically, I’d need more than just a pistol. So I contacted the National Theatre Props department and they invited us to come around and have a look at their warehouse rooms. We visited on Wednesday last week and I felt like a kid in a sweet shop! I ran around and took loads of photos of things - one is here - but we also spoke to Mark (my husband’s) swordmaster who’s agreed to lend us some of his swords for the window, which is rather splendid and cool!
Lastly, I was hungry the whole time I was editing Banished! You’ve included a brownie housekeeper, a type of fae, who bakes constantly for the Blackhart family (no pun intended presumably?!). So the book mentions heaped piles of cookies etc. every now and then. Torture! Do you think you could tell us your favorite Blackhart snack? Or even link to an equivalent in our less magical world?
I am so sorry for encouraging the eating habit, but I regret nothing! A big thing in my Fae culture is food, but also in the human world. Especially when it comes to the main character, Kit - she needs fuel because of how her magic works, and this was one way to show that teen girls can and should enjoy eating. I’ve read too many books aimed at YA readers where the girl just ‘pushes her food around‘ because she’s upset. I’m sorry but none of my friends growing up would ever say no to food, no matter how upset they were! There’s a reason we all have comfort food!
But, onto snacking! I love popcorn, so that is my choice of snack when I write and edit. I am particularly fond of Joe & Sephs' popcorn - which I’ve become addicted to. I also love wasabi peas - as the kick that comes from the wasabi hitting you in the head - nothing makes you pay attention to words more! I also love going out and having delicious food and thankfully so do my friends. You’d find us at places like Wahaca, Honest Burger, Pitt Cue, Lola’s Cupcakes (in Selfridges), Mash on Brewer Street or Jamie Oliver’s Barbecoa. I also adore food markets and spend a ridiculous amount of time at Borough Market as well as Greenwich Market. I’m pretty sure the food markets are run and operated by Fae ... Be sure to check the shadows. You never know who’ll be watching you from within!
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Banished is published on 27th February and you can find other blog posts about the book on torbooks.co.uk here, including the original book deal press release.
Also, you can catch Liz's blog tour at the following 'locations':