Describe your reaction when Houghtin Mifflin Harcourt bought your manuscript.
I was stunned. It was like a swirling cocktail of total elation, immense shock, and overwhelming relief. I was so happy and so surprised; I just couldn’t believe it! It felt like Christmas morning times a billion, plus a little bit of hyperventilating.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Once you have a completed manuscript (or a rough draft of a completed manuscript), don’t be afraid to show people! If you don’t know anyone in publishing/writing/editing, that’s okay, I didn’t either – just show your friends. Mine had really great insights and helpful comments. And once you’re happy with it, start sending out query letters. I know so many good writers who don’t do anything with their manuscripts because they feel like it will never be quite good enough, but at some point you have to take a deep breath and take a chance on yourself. If you don’t send it out there’s no way it will ever get published. Of course getting rejected is never fun, but as my agent Amanda always reminded me, it only takes one yes.
Would you say you “planned” or “pansed” the rough draft to Pilgrims Don’t Wear Pink, or a mixture of both?
I wrote the whole thing in 12 days. It was a totally unplanned stream-of-consciousness explosion of words fueled by a giant tub of strawberry cheesecake ice cream. I seriously never left the computer. It was a little gross. Of course, this writing style required lots of revision!
TVB: 12 days?! Wow!
Did you learn anything by writing your book this way?
I think it really helped me get in touch with Libby’s voice, and to find my voice as a writer. I just kind of let it flow. Now, however, that I know myself better as a writer, I do a lot more planning! My drafts are much less messy.
What books would you recommend to fans of Pilgrims Don’t Wear Pink?
For even more history and a lot less contemporary, I love the Bloody Jack series by L.A. Meyer. And I think anyone who likes Pilgrims is going to love My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century, by Rachel Harris. It doesn’t come out until next fall, but I have a feeling it’s gonna be the greatest thing since sliced bread. Really fancy sliced bread. Like a sliced brioche.
Describe what your writing process is like.
I usually sit down and start writing, with no plan, until I end up with first chapter or the prologue. It helps me get into the protagonist’s mindset. I keep a separate document open where I just scribble down random notes, like character’s names or pieces of dialogue that pop into my head. Once I’ve finished my stream-of-consciousness bit, I read it over, then start making an outline. The outline is always subject to change, but I need to have a plan, otherwise I would just write one-liners and there would be no plot!
Which Pilgrims character are you most like?
Libby and I have the most in common – short, blonde, fashionistas, history-lovers, readers of Jane Austen and romance novels, prolific pie bakers – but the character who usually says what I’m thinking is Dev.
If you could write a book with any classic author, who would it be and what would your story be about?
Since my favorite book is Wuthering Heights, I would love to write a book with Emily Bronte, but I think it would be a disaster. She’d be like “the wind whistled through the moors” and then I’d be like “Emily! Hey Emily! Hareton should be all ‘how many doxies did you burgle to come up with that fetching ensemble?’ Burrrrn! Right, Emily? Emily??” Our book would obviously have a tall, dark-haired hero and a ghost, but beyond that I think we might have some problems.
How did you come up with the “ghost” that haunts the Lettie Mae?
The summer I worked at a living history museum, there was a rumor that one of the ships was haunted. No one I knew ever saw the ghost, and it wasn’t that big of a deal – until Halloween, of course, when the museum publicist was always keen to get the word out to drive attendance! However, I had been a child obsessed with Scooby Doo and Nancy Drew, so I always wondered “what if” about that ghost.
Is there anything you can tell us about Pilgrims sequel, Confederates Don’t Wear Couture?
Sure! Libby and her BFF Dev head down south to sell nineteenth-century ball gowns at Civil War Reenactments. Who knows what kind of trouble Libby will get into set loose in a hoopskirt and corset in Alabama!
TVB: Hopefully there will be lots of Garrett in this one as well!
About the book
Publisher: Houghtin Mifflin Harcourt
Release Date: May 8, 2012
A story of crushes, corsets, and conspiracy
Libby Kelting had always felt herself born out of time. No wonder the historical romance-reading, Jane Austen-adaptation-watching, all-around history nerd jumped at the chance to intern at Camden Harbor, Maine’s Oldest Living History Museum. But at Camden Harbor Libby’s just plain out of place, no matter how cute she looks in a corset. Her cat-loving coworker wants her dead, the too-smart-for-his-own-good local reporter keeps pushing her buttons, her gorgeous sailor may be more shipwreck than dreamboat — plus Camden Harbor’s haunted. Over the course of one unforgettable summer, Libby learns that boys, like ghosts, aren’t always what they seem.