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Andrea Hurst and Associates - Authornomics Blog
by:  Andrea Hurst, Andrea Hurst and Associates; Andrea Hurst Literary Management
e-mail:  info@andreahurst.com
web:  http://www.andreahurst.com
twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/andreahurst_
Interviews with those in-the-know about what an author needs to know.
February 10, 2015

AUTHORNOMICS Interview with ghost writer Kim Pearson

Kim Pearson is an author, ghostwriter, and the owner of Primary Sources, a writing service that helps others become authors of polished, professional, and compelling books. She is the author of many books, including Making History: how to remember, record, interpret and share the events of your life; Dog Park Diary (ghostwritten for a dog!), Eating Mythos Soup, three short story collections, and the 7-book series The Haiku Book of Days. Her Author page on Amazon is: https://www.amazon.com/author/kimpearson. She has ghostwritten (for people) more than 45 non-fiction books and memoirs, which tell the stories of a wide variety of people and cover a broad range of topics, from saxophones to finance, city histories to hypnotherapy, psychic horses to constipation, and many points in between. Her online program “Learn to Ghost” teaches others the fine art of ghostwriting: www.LearnToGhost.com. Her blog From the Compost shares her musings about the writing and ghosting life: www.FromTheCompost.com. To learn more about her books or services, visit www.kimpearson.me.

You have a strong background in ghost writing with over 15 years experience and more than 40 titles! How did you get into this intriguing career?

The first book I ghostwrote, about 20 years ago, was for my own grandmother. I wrote the story of how she came to America as a child, her experiences as a “flapper” in the 20s, her housewife life in a tiny logging town during the Depression, and her volunteer service in World War 2. I interviewed her and recorded our conversations, and she lent me a box of old letters in spidery handwriting, plus about 30 photo albums full of pictures of people even she couldn’t remember. My grandmother was delighted with her book. She showed it off to all her friends, and one of these friends raved about the book to her own daughter, who then called me and asked me to do the same thing for her mother. That was my first paid ghostwriting job. I charged a tiny amount considering the time and energy I spent on it, but it was a great learning experience. For the first time it occurred to me that I might be able to make a living doing what I loved – writing – and had been doing “on the side” since I was a kid.

For those who are unfamiliar, can you give a brief overview of what you do as a ghostwriter? What does an average day look like for you?

There’s no such thing as an average day, because the ghostwriting process is unique to each project, and varies each time. I could be researching the topic, which I usually know little about at the beginning of the project; constructing interview questions; interviewing and recording my client; reviewing interview transcriptions; organizing the materials; writing a chapter; or responding to my client’s questions about the last chapter I sent them.

How long does it usually take to ghostwrite a book? What does the process look like? Do you work with both nonfiction and fiction?

Since each project is unique, there is no one answer to how long it takes to finish it. An average lead time for me for a book of around 200 pages is about 9 months — about the same time it takes to make a baby. But I’ve written books in less than 6 months. It depends on the length of the book, what else is on my plate, and the quality and speed of communication with my client. And other factors.

Regarding the “typical” process, here’s a brief idea of how it might work if a typical client did exist: My client lends me anything that will help me get inside their head, which may be anything from marketing materials to scribbles on napkins to videos of them speaking. I’ll then do some research online on their subject (I do not ghostwrite fiction, only non-fiction and memoir), prepare interview questions, and conduct and record interviews with my client (or others), usually on the phone. I have our conversations transcribed, then pore over all the accumulated materials. I’ll develop a tentative structure and write one chapter. I send the chapter and the structure to the client for feedback to make sure I’ve included what they want included, and have their “voice”. Then I’ll focus the topic, identify “holes,” and create titles, sub-titles, and so on, and finally write the book. I send the rough first draft chapters to my client to make sure I’m continuing down the right path. Then when the book is done I self-edit and rewrite, and send them the second draft, or third draft if necessary.

What are some of the challenges of writing for others?

Besides the challenge to your ego (you have no say about what happens to the final product you sweated blood over), a practical difficulty is that it can be challenging for ghostwriters to market their services. Even if you are an experienced ghostwriter, your portfolio of past work is often hidden from view. Many of your clients will be protected by confidentiality because they don’t want to admit they hired a ghostwriter. This is even tougher when you’re a novice. The basic problem with marketing ghostwriting is that ghosts are supposed to be invisible. But if you’re invisible, how do people know you’re here? How do you say Boo? This is one of the subjects I cover in my course “Learn to Ghost” www.LearnToGhost.com.

How do you choose which projects to take on? Does one project draw your interest more than another?

Ghostwriting requires intimate collaboration – you must move into someone else’s head and learn how to think like them. Not easy. So of course no ghostwriter can be a fit with everyone. I identified my niche early on. My #1 favorite genre to ghostwrite is memoir, preferably inspirational. My second favorite is to highlight small organizations, especially service organizations, and help them build their brand by authoring a book. I also identified who I don’t fit with. I don’t ghostwrite medical or technical books, unless they’re written for laymen, or ghostwrite scholarly research papers. I also won’t take on projects which espouse causes or beliefs that are drastically different than mine.

What I think I’m best at are books rich in storytelling, especially stories with historical elements. I’m simply a sucker for good stories, and I find it hard to turn them down.

For more of this interview and others, please visit our blog at http://www.andreahurst.com/category/blog/

January 26, 2015

An Interview with Andrea Hurst – CHANGING WITH THE TIMES

As most of my readers know, the new year 2015 brings exciting changes to Andrea Hurst & Associates and our literary management division. After thirteen years as a high-profile literary agent, I am semi-retiring from the agent division of my business. The agency will still retain a few of our bestselling authors, including Dr. Bernie Siegel, Hannah Jayne, Penny Warner, James Fraioli and our James Beard Award-winning chefs among others. But beginning January 15, 2015, we will no longer be accepting new queries or clients for representation.

With almost 30 years’ experience in various areas of the publishing and entertainment business, I will continue to work with new and seasoned fiction and nonfiction authors as a developmental/content editor, publishing consultant, and a self-publishing expert. Many of my current clients are referred through major publishing imprints and literary agents. My expertise as a writer, editor, and agent allows me to see the whole picture with a keen and sensitive eye when editing a manuscript.

Following one of my long-time passions, I will continue to pursue my own writing career. My first novel, The Guestbook, is an Amazon bestseller, with the second book of the trilogy, Tea & Comfort, to be released in 2015. After years of working within the traditional publishing system, writing, self-publishing, and marketing three novels over the last few years has given me a true education on the many options in today’s publishing world.

I encourage every writer out there to do the work and follow your dream to be a published and well-read author. When I put out my first novel, I would have been happy to have 10 people read it and like it. I now have almost 1,000 reviews on Amazon. People write me every day asking for the next book, and it still amazes me. The years of finding time, polishing my craft, taking chances, and never giving up have paid off for me with a rewarding experience. I was lucky enough to find an incredible team of editors, designers, and marketing experts to work with and to have my books supported by fellow authors.

Times are changing in the publishing business, and for many of us it is hard to keep up and know what is coming next. A few years ago I was asked to fill out some questions for a guide to literary agents. One of the questions was: What would you be doing if you were not an agent? I wrote that I would be living on Whidbey Island and be a bestselling author. I currently live on Whidbey Island and bestselling author is certainly in sight. With change comes excitement and new opportunities, and that is the direction I am choosing to follow.

To Contact: info@andreahurst.com

December 23, 2014

AUTHORNOMICS Interview with Anna Michels

Anna Michels is an Associate Editor at Sourcebooks, an independent publisher located outside of Chicago. Over the course of her three years at Sourcebooks she has worked on a wide variety of projects, most recently focusing on acquiring fiction and memoir. She is looking for commercial literary fiction with interesting settings and a strong narrative voice (such as Burial Rites by Hannah Kent and The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman); mystery (particularly historical and crossover literary—think Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger) and psychological suspense; and memoir by writers who connect the events of their lives to readers through incredible storytelling.

Can you tell us a little about your role as an Associate Editor for Sourcebooks? What does your typical day look like?

As unglamorous as it sounds, my typical day starts with email—everything from internal communication to new manuscript submissions from agents to questions from authors. I try to get small projects out of the way in the morning so I can focus on editing or tackling more involved projects in the afternoon. I work closely with Shana Drehs, the editorial director for our fiction imprint, Landmark, so I’m constantly touching base with her. I also forward manuscripts to my personal email account throughout the day and then will read through those at night when I get home. As an associate editor, I have the freedom to acquire my own projects while also supporting Shana and her books, so my job is a great mix of independent creative work and more administrative tasks—and I get to work on a ton of different projects, which is amazing!

What is the most challenging part of your job? The most rewarding?

I think the most challenging part of my job is probably the most challenging thing for everyone who works in publishing—trying to figure out how to make our books as successful as possible. There are so many elements that contribute to a book’s performance, including the title, cover, positioning (how the book is presented to the marketplace), and about 100 other things. Books that break out in a big way manage to get all of those elements right, but there is no magic formula for how to make a book a success, and no two books are ever the same. The most rewarding part of my job is definitely working with authors. I’ve been lucky to work with some amazingly talented authors so far, and developing relationships with them and working together on their books is a real privilege.

How did you first get into editing? What recommendations do you have for others looking at editing as a career choice?

I think the most important quality that any aspiring editor has to have is an all-consuming LOVE of books. You need to have read a lot of books, you need to have opinions about the books you’ve read, and you need to be excited about the opportunity of taking a good book to the next level and making it great. There are a lot of other qualities that are helpful in the editorial field as well—strong organizational skills, being a fast reader, having a degree in English or communications—but the love for and commitment to books comes first. After college, I attended the Denver Publishing Institute, a four-week summer graduate course in publishing, which gave me a great foundation for pursuing a career in the field. I would highly recommend DPI or any of the other publishing institutes to anyone seriously interested in working in trade publishing.

What’s one thing you wish all authors knew before they submitted their work to you? What is the biggest mistake you see authors make? Do you have any “pet-peeves”?

I don’t really have any pet peeves when I’m reading, but I do wish that authors would take a bit more time to learn about the types of books Sourcebooks publishes before submitting. Too often we receive submissions that fall into categories we don’t publish, which ends up being wasted time for us and for the author.

What makes a submission stand out and get you to request a read?

I’ll always sit up and pay extra attention to a story I haven’t heard before—one with an unusual setting or stand-out characters, or a plot that I just need to read to see how it plays out.

For more of this interview and others, please visit our blog at http://www.andreahurst.com/category/blog/

December 8, 2014

AUTHORNOMICS Interview with author Catherine Ryan Hyde

Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of 27 published and forthcoming books, including Take Me With You, Where We Belong, When I Found You, Walk Me Home, Second Hand Heart, Don’t Let Me Go, and When You Were Older. She has three new novels forthcoming from Lake Union/Amazon Publishing, including The Language Of Hoofbeats in December of ’14 and Worthy in the summer of ’15. She is co-author, with publishing industry blogger Anne R. Allen, of How To Be A Writer In The E-Age: A Self-Help Guide. Her best-known novel, Pay It Forward, was adapted into a major motion picture, chosen by the American Library Association for its Best Books for Young Adults list, and translated into more than 23 languages for distribution in over 30 countries.

In your career so far, you have written over 25 novels and 50 short stories, and many have been best sellers. When did you first start writing, and what do you think has helped you the most to persevere as an author?

I started writing when I was very young. When I was 14, I had an English and creative writing teacher who told me I could write. In front of the whole class. And he told my other teachers, later, in the staff lounge. So that was when I decided I wanted to be a writer. But I have to look to the year 1991, because that’s when I got serious. I was laid off from a job in January (in a tourist town!) and I wrote that novel I always swore I’d write “if I had the time.” Only this time I joined a workshop/critique group and really buckled down to try to get something published.

Back then what helped me persevere was the mentorship I found at the Cambria Writers Workshop, and later at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference. There were several authors there with a lot of experience. They told me I was good enough, that all writers face rejection, and that I shouldn’t give up.

These days it’s hearing directly from readers, especially the ones who tell me a little about themselves, and tell me what my books meant to them. That makes it all worthwhile.

Can you tell us about your latest novel, The Language of Hoofbeats? What inspired you to write it? Have you noticed your writing evolving over time?

I’ve loved horses for as long as I can remember, so I was overdue to write a book with a strong horse character again. My earliest novel, Funerals for Horses, was the first. At the time I had a horse of my own. I’m thinking seriously of having one again, which may be why it came up again in my work.

My former horse, Cody, was thrown in with the deal when a local riding instructor went to buy a lesson horse. The seller said, “Take that one, too. I’ll practically give him to you. I don’t even dare take him out of that pen.” The pen was nailed shut. And of course the horse had quite a bit of energy stored up, to put it mildly. It’s funny how those images stay with you and crop back up in the work.

I do think my writing has evolved. At first I think it was darker, because I was darker. I had two years of recovery from alcohol and drugs when I started writing for real. Now I have almost 26 years. You know that’s bound to make a difference. I think my newer work is more positive and more emotional.

I also notice that the more novels I write, the more they come out—at least substantively—the way I want them. This is not to say I don’t revise; I do. Obsessively. Just that I don’t remember the last time I had to throw away the whole second half of one and start over. Also, I feel that the quality is more consistent from one novel to the next.

What does your writing process look like? Is it similar with each book? How long does it usually take you to complete a novel?

I write very fast. So fast that I tend not to admit how fast, because people think something you produced that quickly must be rushed and can’t be your best effort. But that’s just how I write, and how I always have.

My process is a bit feast-and-famine. I’ll go weeks without writing, and then I’ll often write ten pages a day for ten days running. Then I have to stop to breathe, and let the work develop. And tend to my life, which can be largely ignored when I’m on a roll.

When writing a new novel, what do you consider the most important aspect of your books? Prose? Plot? Characters? Tone? What’s the easiest for you to craft? What challenges you the most?

Definitely character. People are what I really care about when I craft a story. As a reader, I don’t care what happens unless I care about the character it’s happening to. So I always start with a main character whose emotions I understand, and who has a story to tell. I think that’s the easiest part. Finding the character with the story.

The hard part, often, is in deciding how to tell it. From one point of view, or more? First or third person? In chronological order, or starting in the present and then delving into the past and back again? I usually try a few things on until the story opens up and lets me in.

What prompted you to release a young readers’ edition of your bestseller, Pay It Forward? What was the process like to edit the content to a younger audience?

Well, the short version is, when I first wrote the book, I had no idea it would be perfect for kids. So I wrote it for adults, with some adult language and material. And that kept it out of all schools except high schools. I got tons of requests for a version kids could read. And the more I saw kids latching onto the Pay It Forward concept, the more I realized that writing the book for adults only was an error that needed fixing.

Paula Wiseman at Simon & Schuster was the one who took on the project with me. I don’t write for kids that age, so I was not all that familiar with what’s appropriate for an 8-year-old. I edited out everything I thought should go, sent it back to her for more input. I think we did that for about three rounds.

Can you tell us about the book and what inspired you to write Pay it Forward?

I had an experience in which a couple of total strangers saved me from an engine fire, putting it out by hand. In the confusion of the fire department showing up, they took off before I even had a chance to thank them. So I carried this idea around for a while: What if you owe a favor but you can’t pay it back? What do you do with it? I found myself stopping for people who were broken down by the side of the road, even though I never had before. So that felt like my answer. It evolved from there.

For more of this interview and others, please visit our blog at http://www.andreahurst.com/category/blog/

A R C H I V E / H I G H L I G H T S

AUTHORNOMICS Interview with Harlequin editor Allison Lyons
originally posted: November 13, 2014

Allison Lyons began her career at Harlequin as an editorial assistant on the Silhouette Intimate Moments line. Now, after more than 16 years, she’s found a home at Harlequin Intrigue as an Editor. Since romantic suspense is so popular, you can be sure that her desk is never empty. And although she works with so many prolific writers, she still gets excited at the prospect of finding new authors. Her focus tends to be on romantic suspense submissions, but she’s open to hearing about projects that would fit any of Harlequin’s various lines, both print and digital.

How did you first get into the publishing business? What attracted you to Harlequin, in particular?

Believe it or not, I answered an ad in the New York Times. Very old-fashioned, considering the fact that everything’s done online these days. But then, it was 16 years ago… The job asked for an Editorial Assistant and I definitely knew the name Harlequin. How could I not apply to a job with such a reputable publisher?

What kind of background or skills should a person have if he or she is looking at editing as a career-choice?

First I’d say the person needs to be an avid reader. Anyone who plans to get into the publishing business, especially on the editorial side, needs to have a true love of books and the written word. Also, a strong knowledge about what makes a good story, as well as a close eye to detail, particularly good grammar and spelling skills.

As an editor for Harlequin Intrigue, what does your average day look like?

Busy! Of course, each day is different but, typically, the first thing I do (after getting a much needed cup of coffee!) is check my email. I first try to address the simple things before moving on to the harder, more complex questions/concerns. After that, I’ll work on either reading or editing, depending on which assignment is the most pressing. Throughout the day, I’ll often meet with my boss to discuss scheduling of books in the Intrigue line and catch her up on what projects I’m working on. If I don’t have any meetings, I can get back to reading/editing. I’ll brainstorm with authors on the phone, draw up new contracts, talk to other editors about the exciting projects they’re working on, etc. And, when there’s time, look through unsolicited projects to find the next great book. Of course, there are more cups of coffee involved as well!

Harlequin is different from many publishers in that it has specialized series that carry shorter books, such as Harlequin Intrigue, Harlequin Presents, or Harlequin Romance. How are the stories that are chosen for your series different from other Harlequin imprints?

Harlequin Intrigue books are 55-60,000 word romantic suspense stories. The romance and the suspense run parallel, with a little more focus on the mystery side of things. However, there must be a fully fleshed out and satisfying romance. Bedroom details aren’t necessary, but the tension and connection between the hero and heroine has to be palpable and believable. These two are generally running for their lives so their attraction is immediate and intense and there isn’t a lot of time to “date.” They know pretty quickly if they want to be together…even if they won’t admit it to each other. Or to themselves.

When looking for new submissions for your Harlequin series, do you look for certain storylines or archetypes that work better in these series?

While it’s true that certain “hooks,” as we call them, work best in Harlequin Intrigue (protector heroes, Western settings, secret babies, law enforcement heroes, etc.), we’re always looking for compelling stories that are well told. A strong connection between the main characters is crucial, as is the hero’s ability to keep the heroine safe in the most dangerous of situations. The focus needs to remain on them and their dire circumstances, so we look for a strong attraction and how it plays out. And, of course, the good guys should always win.

Many bestselling romance authors have started their careers at Harlequin writing novels for your series. What kinds of submissions do you usually keep an eye out for? How can someone make his or her submission really stand out from the crowd?

My first bit of advice, always, is to read the books. I can’t tell you how many submissions I’ve gotten in which a writer thinks her book would make the “perfect” Harlequin Intrigue and it’s just way off base. It’s clear she didn’t do her homework. I always tell prospective writers to start with a bang—literally. Kick things off right in the middle of the action and you’ll hook an editor immediately. It’s a lot harder for us to put aside a story in which people’s lives are already in danger. We’re immediately invested, we care, we need to know what happens and if they’ll survive. Definitely pay attention to what sells in each line and try and use some of those hooks when you’re first submitting. Again, it shows you’ve done your homework. It’s also helpful to reference some of the books you’ve loved in your cover letter. It helps us make a connection with you and shows us you enjoy reading what publish before we’ve even gotten to page one. Also try and find out what the different editors are looking for. Editors on the same line have different things that appeal to them. One might like reunion romances while another might like one night stands. Of course, that requires asking around or paying attention to which editor is working on which books (you can learn a lot from the dedication page!), but it’s worth it.

What are some common submission mistakes you see authors make?

It’s obvious when a writer doesn’t know the needs of the line. If you’re submitting a sci-fi story to Love Inspired, we know from the query letter that you have no idea what that line is all about. Also, please proofread your work! It’s very jarring to read a submission that’s riddled with spelling and grammatical errors. And one of my biggest personal pet peeves: when you spell my name wrong. Please don’t do that. To any of us.

For more of this interview and others, please visit our blog at http://www.andreahurst.com/category/blog/


AUTHORNOMICS Interview with author Nicole J. Persun
originally posted: September 24, 2014

Nicole J. Persun started her professional writing career at the age of sixteen with her young adult novel, A Kingdom’s Possession, which later became an Amazon Bestseller. Her second novel, Dead of Knight, was recently awarded Gold in Foreword Magazine’s 2013 Indiefab Book of the Year Award competition, and has also seen Amazon’s Bestseller rankings. Aside from novels, Nicole has had short stories, flash fiction, poetry, and essays published in a handful of literary journals. She often speaks at libraries, writer’s groups, and writer’s conferences across the country. Nicole has a degree in Creative Writing from Goddard College and is currently working on her Master’s at the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts. For more information, visit Nicole’s website at www.nicolejpersun.com or visit her publisher’s website at www.booktrope.com.

What first got you interested in writing? Considering that publishing can be a tough business, why do you choose to write?

For someone with a big imagination who is interested in everything—new findings in history, the latest leaps in science, boundary-pushing art—writing is great. It can encompass anything, which is why I love it so much. As a writer, I don’t have to choose whether I want to become an historian or a biologist, I can be both, through my characters and the stories I craft.

I’ve made up stories since before I can remember. My parents encouraged that side of me from the beginning. However, I started writing my first novel when I was thirteen. In part, writing was an escape; it also allowed me to think about life from a safe distance, removed from the awkwardness of adolescence. Of course, I continued writing through high school and am still writing now, in graduate school, so obviously it stuck. Having a creative outlet is so important. It keeps me sane. And, I think, in a lot of ways, I still address questions about life in general through my characters. It’s a strange habit, trying to figure out the world through imaginary people.

As far as publishing being a tough business, I write despite that. So, yes, it’s not the most stable occupation, but it’s certainly the most personally fulfilling. I’d rather do what makes me happy and deal with a challenging and ever-changing business than do something boring and easy.

What attracts you to the fantasy genre in particular?

I suppose, really, what I love about fantasy is its ability to make hard truths easier to stomach. I started writing fantasy as an escape, but as I delved deeper into the genre, I realized that fantasy isn’t removed from reality. In a lot of ways, it is reality, just taken out of context. For example: lets say you’d like to write a book about the devastation of pollution on an environment. Abandoned and trash-ridden beaches, washed-up whale corpses, birds strangled by plastic—this could be difficult for you, the writer, and your readers, to stomach. A work of fiction about this kind of thing could also come off as preachy. So instead you write a story about a dystopian world that was ravaged by a force of magic. Now, the idea of devastating pollution is taken out of this world’s context. All solutions—even those impossible for our Earth—are on the table. But it’s still abstract and impersonal. So, in the story, we explore the impact of such a thing on a character who carries with her a goldfish in a bag. She cares deeply for her goldfish and, upon Bubbles’ death, she decides to go on a quest to battle the magical force and restore her planet’s natural world.

So, sure, this example is fairly transparent, but you see what I mean. By taking something relevant to our society out of this context and placing it in a different world, with a different set of rules, we’re able to explore the issue in a new way. We have the potential to grow and perhaps draw new conclusions about our own reality by thinking about it on a different plane. I might argue that fiction in general does this—we learn about ourselves through considering new ideas in our reading. Fantasy just requires a bit more suspension of belief than other genres.

Plus, fantasy is also just really fun. Making up worlds, creatures, societies. For someone interested in history and how things come to be, world building is an incredible thing.

And, for the record, I write in all genres. My published novels, so far, are all fantasy, but that doesn’t mean that I limit myself to fantasy as a writer. Every genre is attractive in some way, and I love exploring them.

Your first novel, A Kingdom’s Possession, was accepted by Booktrope Editions when you were sixteen. In your experience, has the age of an author ever been seen as a challenge in the publishing field?

Something I love about this business is that the work must speak for itself. It’s about the quality of the book. When you send out work, your age typically isn’t mentioned. It came up during contracts, of course, because when you’re a minor your parents have to sign the contract as well, but that was the only hiccup as far as getting published.

Broadcasting my age in the marketing of the published product, however, made a difference. In some ways, it was a good marketing tool, because I was somewhat of an anomaly. This meant that it was easy to get newspaper articles and interviews—headlines like, “Local High School Student Gets Publishing Contract” were common. It created buzz, which was good for sales, for getting my name out there. But then it also generated a lot of reviews that read, “This book is great, considering it was written by a kid,” which made it hard to be taken seriously. My age changed the way readers read my work—for better or for worse. Some reviews were overly critical because I was young. In this case, my work didn’t have a chance to speak for itself—those who were aware of my age took that into the story with them, and I think it changed the way they read it.

Age has been a huge challenge regarding my career as a speaker and teacher of writing. I love being involved in writing conferences and am getting an MFA in Creative Writing with Methods of Teaching Creative Writing. I want to teach. But, for some reason, adults have a very hard time taking writing advice from, say, an eighteen-year-old (ha). I’ve taught more writing classes than I can count, with success. I get compliments, I get invited back. But I’ve also had people walk out when they see how young I am. I have been challenged, in the middle of speaking or teaching a class, to debates where adults throw out examples too dated for me to have heard of or ask about my life experience as a way of diminishing my message. Now that I’m a bit older and have been validated by winning a couple awards, I run into this problem less and less. Still, it was perhaps the most difficult part of the establishment of my career as an author and speaker. And it is something I take very seriously. This experience brought me to becoming involved in helping other young writers navigate this business fearlessly. Young people have so much to offer and I love interacting with them—whenever I get the chance to speak to a group of young writers, I strive to be a source of encouragement.

What are some of your tricks for balancing writing, college, and life in general?

Ha! I’ll let you know when I have some!

In all seriousness, I’ve come to think of writing as a necessity—I have to eat, I have to bathe, I have to write. Treating writing as a necessity gives me the permission to maintain the habit. I never feel guilty for writing—I can’t, as it wouldn’t be healthy for my process. Unhealthy for my life, as writing is firmly linked to my sanity. Does this mean that I manage to balance everything flawlessly? No. Just like some days you skip breakfast, or don’t have time to shower, I don’t write. But most often, I carve out time.

I was just talking about this very thing with an author friend from school. So often I think people wait until they think they’ll have more time—when my career is more stable, when I have more money, when I get an office to myself—that they end up putting off their writing. Life never grants you time like that—you always get caught up in other things. So it’s important to prioritize and make time.

Lately, I’ve also been enjoying finally being in a program that requires you to write what you want. I spent most of high school getting up at 4:30am to write before class. Now that class is writing, I have more time. Which is great, because waking up at 4:30am sucks.

In addition to writing, you also teach other writers! What kinds of insights do you hope your students come away with after taking one of your courses?

Really, I teach with the goal of stretching writers’ ideas about writing. After all, it’s an art. There are no real rules. I love to discuss. To present ideas with the caveat that there is no right way or wrong way to write a story. I want to motivate writers to explore and play. I want them to walk away from a class inspired. I also strive to help writers feel as though they’re not alone—writing is such a solitary thing that sometimes it can become scary or discouraging. Something I learned from my favorite teachers of writing: there’s comfort in knowing that other writers are going through the same thing.

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Andrea Hurst, President, has over 25 years experience as a published author, developmental editor for publishers, and skilled literary agent. In addition to our work with high-profile authors and mainstream publishers, our team of industry professionals now offers assistance to writers we do not represent, but who are in need of expert literary guidance in their quest for publication. Whether you need help polishing a query letter or evaluating your manuscript, are curious about custom publishing or on the hunt for a top ghostwriter, we provide the tools and the expertise to succeed in today’s marketplace.