Today I'm excited to welcome author Deborah Kreiser aboard our ship to talk about her YA debut, THREE WISHES, which releases today from Astraea Press! Here's the blurb:
Tall and lanky, Genie Lowry is only noticed at academic awards assemblies—until the day she turns 17 1/2, when her body changes from Kate-Hudson-flat to Katy-Perry-curvy—and she finds out she’s a real, live genie. Suddenly, every guy at school is paying attention to her, including Pete Dillon, her never-in-a-million-years crush.
But to gain her full powers and keep her new body, Genie has to find a master, and she’s not sure if Pete’s Master (or Mr.) Right. With help from her dead mother’s interactive diary and an imposing mentor with questionable motives, Genie uncovers the family history and genie rules she never knew. She grapples with her new powers and searches for the perfect master as she tries to make her own wishes come true.
I got to read an advance copy of this book, and I can tell you it's pretty darn adorable. Genie is a fun protagonist, always meaning well but sometimes (okay, a lot of times!) missing the big picture. The love story is sweet (even if it takes Genie a while to get there), the friendships and family relationships are believable, and the genie mythology includes some smart twists that go beyond the basic "three wishes" trope. To celebrate her book release, Deborah is here to answer some questions about THREE WISHES, as well as about her writing process and publishing experience. Enjoy!
KH: So why genies? What drew you to write a romantic comedy with genies as your fantasy element?
DK: As a kid, I used to watch "I Dream of Jeannie," and loved the idea of making wishes come true. What I didn't like, even back then, was how Jeannie was so dependent on her master. So when I was trying to figure out what I wanted to write, the idea of an independent genie popped in my head. And I thought it would be a funny twist if this "new" genie went through her physical transformation in an instant.
KH: The genie lore you included in the book was really interesting! (The significance of the number three, the tetrahedrons, the need to find a master by age 18, etc.) How much of it is pretty standard genie mythology, and what elements did you come up with on your own, to fit this particular story and world?
DK: I confess to taking LOTS of artistic license in my interpretation of genie lore. I basically rewrote most of it. Of course, everyone knows that three wishes are kind of the standard—I just took that number and made it a little more significant in other areas of a genie's life, including the importance of a tetrahedron (three-sided pyramid).
KH: Who's your favorite character in the book? Is it Genie herself, or did you find yourself falling for one of your supporting characters? I particularly loved Genie's grandparents—as well as her friend Joel.
DK: I do love Genie. She's such a good kid, trying to do the right thing, but struggling with figuring out what she wants and how she should go for it. Genie's grandmother has some stuff in common with my own mother, including a large collection of black shoes (and one of the first lines in the book is based on something my mom has said: "You hit the nail on the nose!"). My very favorite, though, is probably Leia, Genie's neighbor and best friend—both because Leia's based a little bit on some of my real BFFs and because she was fun to write. She has some snappy dialogue and is just a little bit snarky.
KH: The YAB community is filled with writers at all stages of the writing journey. Can you share your path to publication, in a nutshell?
DK: So, originally I thought I wanted to find an agent to represent this book, and I spent about eight months actively querying. I won a few pitch contests and had a number of full and partial requests of my manuscript, as well as a revise and resubmit (R&R). Ultimately, though, nothing panned out, and simultaneously I was reading everywhere that paranormal was a really tough sell.
Meanwhile, I kept hearing about authors who had chosen to go with small presses and who were pleased with their decisions—and some who were not. There have been some publishers who have come and gone quickly, and left behind really bad stories about their treatment of their authors and staff. So, cautiously, I started looking into my options among small publishers, and found Astraea Press, which after a few years in business was going strong, with a great reputation for fairness and success.
I pitched to them as part of the SavvyAuthors Summer Symposium, and was over the moon last September when my full request from them turned into an offer to publish. Here we are, about six months later, and my book is born! Everyone from the publisher to the staff to the authors at AP have been wonderful. It's a fabulous way to debut.
KH: What's your writing routine like?
DK: This seems to be successful: I write like mad during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) each November, and spend the nine months afterward revising. There's something about having that hard goal once a year that is a great incentive to get a manuscript written, if not polished. And I can't keep up that pace in-between NaNos. (Though I probably could if I knew a contract depended on it!) I know some people are able to find a good regular writing routine, but my inspiration seems to come in intense flashes, with a low-stress revision time afterward.
KH: And finally, since your book is all about the power of wishes, what would be your three wishes if you ran into a genie?
DK: Oh, that's easy! I'd wish for world peace, exclusively renewable energy, and organic food for everyone. :-) Hey, no one said they had to be realistic wishes, right?
Want to win an e-book copy of THREE WISHES? Share your own three wishes in the comments. Dream big—imagine you have your own personal genie standing by to make your wish his or her command. We'll pick a winner at random and announce the result on Friday on the blog!