So, there’s this really awesome contest being held by CA Marshall, a YA writer, literary agent assistant, and freelance editor all rolled into one. She’s offering a full manuscript edit. That’s right–a complete look at your manuscript (up to 100,000 words)! So, who is the madwoman (and this is a compliment to us) behind this genius contest? CA Marshall dropped by our blog to answer a few questions. Check out the interview below, then go enter her contest NOW!
Could you please tell us a little about your background? How did you get into writing and editing?
I majored in english and professional writing in my undergrad days where I was editor of the school’s annual chapbook and then went on to creative writing at Newcastle University for my MA. I’ve always worked behind the scenes, editing academic papers and stories and such for my friends. I started editing full novels for friends, and then those friends recommended me to their other friends and so on. It’s been a dream come true to get paid to do something I love, especially with so many others out of work.
We know that you’re an assistant to a literary agent. Do you have any aspirations of one day becoming a full-time literary agent?
Nope, no aspirations. It’s a bummer when I see something I love and the agent doesn’t agree though. In those times I sometimes wonder but it usually passes. Maybe someday I’ll be an acquisitions editor or something…
What trends are you noticing in the slushpile? Which trends do you and The Agent would like to see more of?
Lots and lots of vamps, mythologies, angels/demons, paranormal romances, etc. They all sound alike plot-wise too. The Agent and I would like to not see any trends in the queries pile. Forget about trends. We don’t want to see the next Twilight or Harry Potter. We want to see YOU!
You love to write YA (as do we!). What drew you to that genre?
I love the newness of everything, the exploration and the first times. Life should always be an adventure and reading and writing YA is a great way to experience a little bit of that, even if it’s only an imaginary journey.
What books/authors influence your writing style?
I’m obsessed with Jane Austen. I love funny writers like Terry Prachett and Douglas Adams but also thoughtful ones like Richard Adams and David Almond. I like to think I take a little bit of every author I read with me when I finish a book (I read about ten books a week, 99.9% of them YA).
Which five books would you recommend to any writer that’s considering to write YA?
Libba Bray’s GOING BOVINE
Shaun David Hutchinson’s THE DEATHDAY LETTER
Jessica Walker’s VIOLET series
JK Rowling’s HARRY POTTER series
and Gayle Forman’s IF I STAY
Could you describe your editing process? Are you a line-by-line editor, or do you look at the manuscript as a whole?
If the client wants it, both. I give every work at least two passes: once just to read it and get familiar with the characters, and once to do copyedits. I keep a running editorial letter open through all of it to make “big picture” notes and then I put specific notes in the manuscript itself.
What are some common mistakes that you find in manuscripts?
Not capturing the right voice, like if you’re writing about a teenager, that teenager wouldn’t say to the mirror, “Shall I wear my red blouse today?” Also, overwriting. We don’t want to hear about the scenery during a chase scene. Let that scenery fly by. If that scene doesn’t move the plot forward or advance a character arc, get rid of it.
How has working as a freelance editor affected your own work? Do you have any beta readers/editors?
It has made an impact, yes. If I see problems over and over again, it prompts me to check my own work for that problem. Sometimes it’s there and I’ll fix it, other times I breathe a sigh of relief. I still have beta readers and critique partners though. Even I have problems distancing myself from my own work.
Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
In a small house overlooking the North Sea with Mollie the dog by my side and a shelf full of books that I’ve written and have helped others to write.
We’re a very musical blog. What are some of your favorite songs to listen to while editing/writing?
OMG, soundtracks! Snow Falling On Cedars, Pride & Prejudice (2005), Fly Away Home, The Constant Gardener, Series of Unfortunate Events, Road to Perdition, Braveheart, Pearl Harbor, House of Sand and Fog, Pan’s Labyrinth, The Other Boleyn Girl, The Illusionist, Finding Neverland, Contact, The Time Machine, Whalerider, just loads and loads and loads! Also, anything by Lifehouse (my fav band), Owl City, And Kate Rusby.
Isn’t she great? I’ll have to suggest the soundtrack to Inception for her, as well–the music is haunting. Please go check out her website and don’t forget to enter her contest. 🙂