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Archive for September, 2009

HUNGER Moving Right Along

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

I heard from my editor yesterday that she loved the changes I made to HUNGER in the line editing phase, and so the manuscript has been sent on to copy editing. **happy dance**

So here’s where we are in the HUNGER production cycle, roughly speaking:

Write manuscript
Sell manuscript to publisher
Editor sends revision letter to me for review
Revise manuscript & send to editor
Editor sends line edited manuscript to me for review
Incorporate line edits and tackle any outstanding/new issues & send to editor
Editor approves manuscript & sends to copy editing
Editor sends copy edited manuscript to me for review
Accept or don’t accept (called “stetting”) every single change flagged by copy editing & make any final content changes & return to editor
Manuscript produced as galley proofs
Unproofed advance reading copies sent to reviewers, booksellers, etc.
Galleys proofread & sent to me for review
I proofread the galleys & return to editor
I wait impatiently patiently for reviews to be submitted
I wait impatiently patiently for my author copies to arrive
Have a bunch of contests with HUNGER given away as the prize
HUNGER hits the shelves!!! <--- FALL 2010 So there's a while to go. But I'll be blogging (promise) and launching Post Mortem (shortly) and Tweeting (Twittering?) and MySpacing (if that's a verb) and probably also creating a new Facebook page (because I'm insane). Until then, well, there are books to be read. And written.

How Big A Role Does Anorexia Play?

Friday, September 25th, 2009

Jo commented: “Is it an issue novel? I’m assuming because the MC is anorexic; it may or may not play a big part, I don’t know.”

Thanks for the comment, Jo! Yep, HUNGER is an issue novel, one that has the added bonus of including the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. (And their Steeds, of course. Can’t have Horsemen without their horses.)

HUNGER is about how the protagonist, Lisabeth Lewis, battles her internal demons as she learns how to be Famine. It’s impossible to have this story without anorexia playing a major part; she’s seventeen and anorexic. It’s who she is (along with, now, being the new incarnation of Famine). If anorexia weren’t an important part of the story…well, there would be no story.

I’ve been trying to write this blog post for two days now, and I’ve deleted and wrote and deleted and wrote and deleted more times than I can count. I think part of the reason why I’m having so much trouble with it is because HUNGER is such a personal story to me. There were parts of it that were literally painful for me to write. Some of that pain was because I remember all too clearly what it’s like to be in a battle with food, to look in the mirror and hate what I see, to feel like a failure based on how I think I look. I used to be bulimic. Even though I’m not anymore, some of those feelings, those inadequacies, linger. The trick is pushing aside those inadequacies and feeling good about, even proud of, myself for who I am, not feeling bad about myself for who, or what, I’m not. Some days, well, that’s hard. And when I was writing HUNGER, there were times when it was like I was ripping off a bandage and letting myself bleed. It was raw. And, like I said, painful.

“Write from what you know,” people like to say. In many ways, I did just that when I wrote HUNGER. (I made a lot of stuff up, too. For example, I’ve never been a Horseman of the Apocalypse.) We all have been touched by pain, and that pain is always personal. But we don’t have to let that pain define us. That doesn’t have to be the sum of our existence.

And that’s something that Lisabeth Lewis, the protagonist of HUNGER, has to discover for herself.

Thanks again for your question, Jo.

So What’s This Post Mortem Thing?

Sunday, September 20th, 2009

By now, some of you may be wondering what the heck the Post Mortem part of my website is all about. (Or maybe not. But for the sake of this blog post, and my fragile ego, I’m going to act as if I’ve been bombarded with questions about Post Mortem.)

Simply put, Post Mortem is a fake talk-radio show. And Death is the host.

Now, I have to be clear: this isn’t Neil Gaiman’s Death (although she is incredibly fabulous), and this isn’t Terry Pratchett’s Death (with or without all caps when he speaks). This is my Death. (Which, taken out of context, sounds incredibly weird and perhaps a little creepy.) Specifically, this is the character Death, who will appear in my upcoming novel HUNGER.

For more about Death and his role in HUNGER…well, you’ll have to be patient. (A year, folks. One year. We can do it!)

As for Post Mortem, here’s the deal: Death — cuddly, fun-loving guy that he is — has decided to interview the characters of other authors. The other authors’ characters, bless them, have happily agreed to come on over and answer some questions and talk about things…including what it’s like working with their authors.

Yeah, I’m pretty psyched about it too.

Some of the authors whose characters will be guests on Post Mortem? Heather Brewer. Rachel Caine. Mari Mancusi. Michelle Rowen.

So stay tuned.


Friday, September 18th, 2009

Here’s how it began:

In October 2008, I had dinner with my agent. And I told her that I hoped to be a big enough writer one day to write the book I’ve been itching to write for years. The conversation went something like this:

AGENT: What book?

ME: It’s about an anorexic teenage girl who becomes Famine of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

AGENT: [PAUSES] So why haven’t you written it yet?

ME: Um. Well. No one wants to read about eating disorders.

AGENT: Of course they do!

ME: I guess I should write it.

AGENT: I guess you should.

So I stopped working on two other novels and started thinking through the book that would be called HUNGER. It took me two false starts before I knew who the main character was. Once I found her, the first scene came pouring out. Then I wound up changing the setting of the story — originally, it opened in a hospital wing; now it opens in the protagonist’s bedroom. And then the first three chapters practically wrote themselves.

Another pause, this time for me to really get the worldbuilding. When you’re writing anything — but especially when writing anything with fantasy — you need to know the rules of the world you’re creating. In my case, I had to understand the purpose of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse. (You may be thinking: “Come on, the purpose is to herald the start of Armageddon. You know, the end of everything.” And to that I say: “Heh heh heh.”) Once I figured them out…the rest of the book just happened.

It took me four weeks to write. After letting it simmer for about ten years. (Please don’t wait ten years to write a book. Really. If you have a story in you, get it out.) And then I gave the draft of HUNGER to my critique partner. And she said she loved it. (She also said she loved the character Death. And later, she gave me the most fantabulous present ever. But that’ll be another blog post.) With my CP’s blessing, I gave HUNGER to my agent.

My agent stayed up all night to read it. (I love her.)

A few months later, HUNGER sold to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. And you’ll see the results in fall 2010. 🙂

Is This Thing On?

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

Hi, I’m Jackie Morse Kessler. I write stuff. My novel HUNGER will hit the shelves in fall 2010, which feels like a really, really long time from now. But hey, by then Lost will be over. (Great, now I just made myself sad. Where’s the chocolate?)

So. Let’s see. What to put in my debut blog post?


Some things about me, in no particular order:

I am short. Like, really short. Like, you’re probably taller than me. I used to think I was five feet tall. But then I went for my physical exam, and either the RN was being evil or I’ve shrunk. Now I’m 4’11.5″. On the plus side, people tend to grab stuff off the high shelves for me in stores. (On the minus side, my pants are too long.)

I am a New Yorker. I was born in Brooklyn, worked in Manhattan, and now I live upstate. (Yes, I’m still allowed to call myself a New Yorker. It’s in the rules.) I come into NYC often; sometimes it’s for work–my agent and my publisher are in the city–but other times, it’s because NYC is a lot of fun.

I have a lot of comic books. Used to have 9,000 of them, but then our basement flooded. I had to pitch a lot. I cried. Favorite comic series: Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. I don’t collect them anymore, but I keep drifting by my local comic shop. I might start up again soon. Might. Maybe.

I read a lot. A lot. Right now, I’m reading Gena Showalter’s Intertwined and Gregory Maguire’s Son of a Witch. I have about 200 books that are waiting to be read. The next book will be Jasper Fforde’s The Eyre Affair. In a perfect world, I’d sit around all day, writing, reading, and eating chocolate.

That’s it for now. (Can’t tell you too much about me in the first post; I’d run out of material to talk about in a week.) The next blog post will talk more about HUNGER, and what Post Mortem is all about. Hope your September is going great!