Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Today, the Graffiti Wall welcomes, Beth Revis, author of Across the Universe due out Spring of 2011 by Razorbill/Penguin.

Hi Beth, so excited to have you here today. Welcome. I know when we talked about doing this interview, you were willing to entertain questions from our audience. So to the readers out there: ask Beth some questions. Here's your chance...well, after me that is. ";-) 

1. Beth, I'm assuming being a high school English teacher that writing has always been an interest of yours. But when did you know, just know that this was what you wanted to do?

I remember being proud of my writing in 1st grade. There was a story we wrote on that big lined/dashed paper that was posted on the wall for Parent-Teacher night, and I can vividly remember the pride I felt. I probably caught the bug then. But I never thought of writing as something that I could *really* make a living off of for many years later. In college, I started writing a story that turned into a novel, and from that point (about five or so years ago), I began to focus on professional writing.

2. Once you made that commitment, did you ever question it? Most writers, including myself, every so often will have a lapse of confidence. Happen to you?

OHMAHGAH YES. SO MUCH. I have such low self-confidence I may as well be crawling. After my first book, I naively thought that one book = instant publication, success, and millionaire status. Seriously. I was shocked by my first rejection. I thought just writing a book was enough. So, after that first rejection, basically the next five years were a roller coaster of highs (finishing a draft) and lows (rejection. LOTS of rejection. Hundreds of rejections.)
3. Is there anything special you do to motivate yourself to write each day?

Not really! I just really like to write! 

4. Favorite character of all time? Why? The audience wants to know....

Hmmmmm. HMMMM. Maybe Edmund Pevensie from Narnia? I love how flawed he is in the beginning...and how much he changes over the course of the series.
5. Who are the writers who've inspired you the most? Are there similarities between them?

Writing-wise: Robin McKinley. I think she has a beautiful way with words. Also 
CS Lewis: his layers of meaning is something I've always striven towards. Goal-wise: JK Rowling and Patricia Wrede. I'm a very funny person in real life, but can never transcribe comedy onto the page--so I totally admire the writers who CAN be funny. Story-wise: Joss Whedon. He writes scripts instead of books, but he's got some of the best plots ever made.
Those are some heavy hitters. Nice.

6. Social networking: savior or sinner for a writer? Do your students have an opinion? A teenage perspective is so fresh sometimes.

Funnily enough, my students (on all levels--the top students and the ones who struggle) have very little awareness of book marketing in social media. When my creative writing students--who are always on the look-out for books and writing--had not heard of Suzanne Collins or THE HUNGER GAMES more than a year after it had been released, I lost some of my faith in online media to market books. So I don't really look at online media for that purpose--I still try, but I think I've got a realistic perception that maybe 1 in 100 teen students care about what people online say about books. They're not looking there for book information--not yet. The teen bloggers who are so popular now are in the minority of teens--for now.

Instead, I think online media, such as social networking, is more beneficial for the writer to join the writing and publishing community. Use online social networking as what it is: a NETWORK--instead of marketing, and I think that will work. Some of my best writer friends, critique partners, publishing contacts, etc., are people I met through social networking.

I find that very interesting. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

7. What's the most important writing advice you pass on to your students that you'd like to share with everyone?

PRACTICE. I was just mind-bogglingly naive when it came to writing when I started. I truly assumed that writing a book is enough. But writing is an art. Did da Vinci make great painting the first time he tried? No. So many writers today will write one book, then sit on it and tweak it and rewrite it and revise it to death. Write another book! Let go--let yourself have tried and failed. You don't have to either be a success with the first book or not at all. The more you write, the better you'll be.

Great and wise advice.

8. You must be elated about your book deal, ACROSS THE UNIVERSE. Briefly, how did it all come about?

The same ol' way everyone does :)
1. Wrote the book
2. Revised
3. Crit partners, round 1
4. Revised
5. Crit partners, round 2
6. Revised
7. Crit partners, round 3
8. Polished to a shine
9. Slush pile submissions
10. Wait
11. Wait
12. Wait
13. Drink
14. Wait
15. Get offer; interview agents
16. Sign with agent
17. Agent submits manuscript
18. Wait
19. Drink some more
20. Sign with publisher! YAY!
21. Drink some more...but this time in celebration!!!!

Note readers and writers: lots of waiting time. That's okay. Keep writing in the meantime.

9. Sci Fi for teens. Such an awesome realm. Is the book geared more toward guys or girls or both? Could you tell the readers a bit about it? 

It's geared to both--there's a male POV and a female POV, so I really hope that it will appeal to both boys and girls who read.

In a very small nutshell: ACROSS THE UNIVERSE is Agatha Christie meets Orson Scott Card...IN SPACE!!

OK, so seriously, I just like writing IN SPACE!!! and yelling it dramatically in my head every time I do. But the plot is basically this: Amy is cryogenically frozen for a 300 year journey to a new planet...but is woken up 50 years early. Now she has to figure out who unplugged her--because whoever is doing it, is unplugging--and thereby killing--others.

Sounds fascinating. Can't wait.

10. Are any of your characters like you?

Amy is definitely like me in one key way. When I left for college, it was my first time where I realized I was well and truly on my own. I couldn't rely on my parents. If my car broke down, I had to figure out what to do--they were 200 miles away couldn't come pick me up. If I ran out of money...I was out of money. That was that. In my book, when Amy wakes up, she's without her parents. That sense of loss, of being forced to be an adult whether you're ready for it or not--that was me writing me.

That's something we all can relate to and remember, no matter how old we get. 

11. Lastly, what are you going to do on Release Day!!

OMG I don't even know. I want to have a launch party--but I'm secretly afraid no one will show up!!!

I'm sure a ton of people would show up. I'll come. ";-)
Once again, Beth, thank you for sharing yourself and your experience with me so I may share it with others. We're all so excited for you. Say 'hi' to your students and tell them to give the teacher a party come spring. 

So now's your chance, readers. Ask Beth a question. She's going to visit today to answer them. 

Interested in finding out more about Beth? Check out her sites below.


  1. "I'm a very funny person in real life, but can never transcribe comedy onto the page--so I totally admire the writers who CAN be funny."

    That is exactly like me, well at least I'm told I'm funny ... but I don't feel like I can do it well in my writing either. It's strange, I mean I don't personally know any authors who are incredibly funny, but I'm guessing they're not that way so much in real life. Who really knows for sure though?

    Anyway thanks so much for sharing Sheri and for giving the interview Beth. Great stuff.

  2. Ooohh Ohhhh!!! ME! ME! Call on ME next! Beth ( I heaaarrrttt you), what did you do to keep going when the odds seemed slim?

  3. Nice work with the interview--both of you. I enjoy reading these success stories.

    And, the development of Edmund Pevensie is excellent.

  4. Ooooo, I always loves me some Beth Revis!!! Great interview - thank you both. :-)

  5. This is a great interview. I love how much waiting Beth had to do in there. Makes me feel like my waiting has value. Or maybe not. Ha ha!

    And I so agree about Edmund. I like flawed people that grow.

  6. This is such a wonderful interview! I'm very much with you about J.K. Rowling and Patricia C. Wrede, goal-wise. :]

  7. I've read a couple of interviews with Beth, and I learn something new each time. Writing, polishing, submitting, and waiting isn't easy. I'm glad you persevered!

  8. Great interview! Found your site from Beth's blog and am now following! I look forward to more great interviews, thanks.

  9. Woo hoo! Excellent interview Sheri! Way to go Beth! I'll come to the launch party! =)

  10. Great interview and some top advice from Beth.

    Book sounds great, and I'll be looking for a copy on release.

    I also do 'the voice' in my head, when I see the words ...IN SPACE!!!

  11. Elana, I agree with each others' waiting giving value all around. Theresa, I'm glad she persevered, too. Jem, thank you for the follow. I'll try not to disappoint.

    And to all new visitors to the Graffiti Wall...welcome. Come back real soon. I've got an ALERT tomorrow you won't want to miss. ('K, it's a personal gripe, but it's funny.)

    C, Beth...you already have two guests for your launch party!! Yay!! Who's bringing the scallops wrapped in bacon??????

  12. Oh Beth - you need to have an EPIC launch party! You rock!!!

  13. Yay for this interview! I love Beth!! She is amazing and I love hearing that every writer struggles (just because it reminds me that it's never over!)

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  15. Aw...Jen, me too. We are truly in one big fishbowl, although we all ferment at our own pace. Keeps it interesting.

    Wow, to the Fabuloso!! Bish, gracias.

    Thanks you, both, for the comments!!

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  17. Thanks for the great interview. I appreciate your comments on why to social network Beth. I think you're right that it's more to connect to the writer community rather than to kids, who probably aren't interested in blogs.

  18. Great interview. I LOVE Beth. She's such an inspiration to me. : )

  19. Fantastic fun as always Beth. Sheri, I really like your blog!

    Beth- I want to come to your launch party! I may have to do a road trip. :-) But I bet you could do a really awesome one online too.

  20. Christina has a point, Beth. An online launch party. Sounds cool! I think I'll wait a couple of days to post my funny story, wait and see if someone has 'planning' ideas for this party. ";-)

  21. Beth, I love that you love Edmund. Stories that allow for redemption are my favorite.

    And MOUSETRAP meets Orson Scott Card has sold me.

  22. @Candyland: I'm just stubborn. Incredibly, incredibly stubborn.

    @Slamdunk: Thanks! I always liked him better than Perfect Peter.

    @Shannon: Well, I always love me some Shannon! :)

    @Elana: I'm glad one of us loves the waiting!

    @Sandy: Aren't they genius? Patricia Wrede always seems to be overlooked, imo.

    @Theresa: Me, too! :)

    @Jem: You're going to love this site. I do!

    @Carolyn: Woot! That's two signed up (including me, lol)

    @Ian: YES! I will soon convert everyone to shout out in The Voice.

    @Christine: I wonder if they'd let me do it at the Kennedy Space Center....

    @Jen: It's true--every writer does struggle (although it feels like torture sometimes!)

    @Bish: Thanks! :)

    @Natalie: I hope that changes one day, but for now, that's what seems apparent to me.

    @Casey: *hugs*

    @Christina: ROAD TRIP!!! You should so come!!! Sheri can bring bacon-wrapped scallops!

    @Caroline: Yay! :) I love that comparison, too, even though a surprising number of people haven't heard of one or the other...

    Thanks for having me again Sheri!

  23. Beth, your answers are awesome! Thanks for visiting and for doing the interview. It was my pleasure. Doesn't bacon-wrapped scallops sound awesome???

  24. Awesome interview! I loved Beth's answer to most important writing advice to pass on to students. I really needed to hear what she said!


  25. I did too, Nicole. I'm so glad this was helpful to so many.

    Thanks again, Beth.

  26. Awesome interview--and I totally recognize the query--where did I read it Beth? Verla's? The Query Shark? With Daphne Unfeasible?? Where? It sounds wonderful, by the way--you must be very excited!! Congrats on being on your way to be published!

  27. Cogratulation to BOTH you LOVELY LADIES!!

    I follow both of your blogs so was REALLY INTERESTED to read this interview... SUPER!!

    I don't have time now to write my question as - like Beth have to teach in 5 min - but I'll email you Beth when I have time...

    I'm definitely buying your book!!

  28. Thank you Beth and Sherri for a great interview. The advice to be patient and keep writing and working on your craft is so critical! It's easy to lose faith when one manuscript isn't selling, but you can't lose faith completely if you are excited about your new WIP.

  29. Great point, Adventures in Children's Publishing. Believing in oneself and work is paramount. I've found it's a collective thought from the published authors I've spoken to.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  30. I enjoyed this interview a lot. It seems like the author handles life (including rejection letters) very well. And writing . . . something she enjoys. Beautiful.

  31. I will be at your launch party, Beth!


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