2009 Debutante Author Intervew Series: Deva Fagan

In Fortune’s Folly, a girl who survives by telling fake fortunes must
make one of them come true to save her father’s life–to succeed,
she’ll have to procure a wicked witch, recover a pair of enchanted
slippers, and, worst of all, find a princess to marry the prince she’s
falling in love with herself.

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fortunesfolly

 

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Does that not just sound like the cutest story? A girl has to find a princess to marry the prince she’s fallen in love with–LOVE it! Today’s deb is Deva Fagan, author of the forthcoming Fortune’s Folly. You can reach Deva through her website at www.devafagan.com. And! be sure to look for her book this Spring.

Fortune’s Folly is your debut novel, so a big congrats on that. But can you give us a little statistical rundown on how long it took you to get to this point? How many books? How many rejections? How many days, months, or years?

I wrote an absolutely terrible novel in junior high (it had a silver-eyed girl who was the Chosen One and an anti-hero who looked like my favorite pop star and lots and lots of very overblown prose), so if you start counting with that, it’s been over 20 years, 5 completed (now trunked) novels, and too many rejections to count.

On the other hand, it was only in the last five years that I got a handle on the submission process (thanks in large part to the resources available online!) and really made writing a top priority in my life. Once I stopped flailing about things began to improve. I started getting personalized rejections, then positive rejections, and finally a sale! 

Which “Call” thrilled you more? The call in which you landed an agent or the call in which you landed your book deal? 

 Actually, I didn’t get any calls at all! My communications with both my agent and editor throughout the submission processes were done over email, and I’ve still never spoken with either of them on the phone (though we have met in person and do email regularly).

But one moment that did truly thrill me was on January 1st, 2006. I like “firsts” and will often start new projects or endeavors on the first of a month (or week, or year). I had just suffered several rounds of rejections, but I had decided to hold fast to my determination and send out another spate of query letters to agents. I was in the middle of sending off my e-queries and suddenly a response popped up in my in-box.

I was sure at first that I’d mistyped and it was a bounced mail, but no, it was a request from one of the agents to see more. I had sent her the query at 7:13 and the response came back at 7:18. I nearly fell out of my chair! Apparently that was an omen of things to come because just about a month later I had signed with her, and just about a month after that we sold the book!

When it happens, it happens fast!

I think you said you actually wrote Fortune’s Folly as a “break” from the big, serious book you were then writing. Whatever happened to the big, serious book?

Unfortunately, it was SO big and serious it was also terribly dull and spiritless. So right now it’s sitting in my virtual trunk. At some point I may chop out the parts I still like (some of the secondary characters, the setting) and reuse them, but for now it’s been set aside.

Well, it sounds like you made the right decision in starting something new!  I’m always curious about this subject: How do you balance writing and your day job? What do you do when you get overwhelmed?

I’m a morning person, so I usually wake up early enough that I can get in a good two hours of writing time before I have to go to the office. It can be difficult, though, because my day job involves sitting in front of the computer (I’m a software developer).

What helps me keep the balance is making plenty of time to get outside (my dog helps with that, since he is always up for a walk!). I also always have paper and a pen with me so if I get an inspiration when I am at work, I can jot it down. Of course this leads to my purse being stuffed with scraps of paper scribbled with things like “her hair turns purple!” and “minions have pumpkin heads” that I then have to sort through. I really ought to get a notebook!

Hey, Whatever works, right? Did you feel your relationship with your agent changed after your sale?

Not really, since the book sold so quickly I didn’t really have time to establish a relationship before the sale happened!

This is Fumbling with Fiction, so I have to ask, in your writing career have you ever had a big “Oops!” moment?

Oh plenty! Though thankfully most of them relate to the actual writing and thus only impacted me personally (well, and my friends who had to listen to me bemoan my mistakes). I tend to find the plots and settings of my books first, and then have to sort of wait for the characters to introduce themselves and become real people in my mind.

Unfortunately I am not always good about waiting for that to happen. I want to rush ahead and write the story down. This has led to quite a few partial (and, sadly, full) novels with cardboard characters, that I end up having to toss aside and rewrite once I find the real, living, breathing characters who belong in the story.

You’re now at the beginning of your writing career. Can you believe it? Where would you like that sure-to-be illustrious career to take you?

It is hard to believe! I am very grateful to be here. The thing that thrills me the most is the idea of people reading, and hopefully enjoying, my books. If I can look back on my writing life as an old woman and believe that I have entertained people, that I have brought magic and adventure and love and beauty to them, then I would be a very happy old lady!

That’s such a sweet sentiment.

Tell us a little about receiving your first editorial letter. What was yours like? How did you feel when you received it?

My first editorial letter was about three pages long. I love my editor for many reasons but one of them is that she always finds something nice to say (before getting to the part that’s going to be hard work). So it started with some quite nice things that made me blush, and went on to the things that she felt would make the book stronger.

The two main issues we dealt with in that revision were pacing and establishing more empathy with the main character. I will admit that at first I was intimidated! Both seemed like daunting tasks. But then I saw that my editor (bless her!) had also included lots of notes on the manuscript itself to show me where to start. I decided I would go through and do all the “easy” stuff first, and then tackle the big stuff. That eased me into it and by the time I did get to the big stuff, it felt much more manageable.

Finally, if you could have written one book previously published by another author, which book would it be?

I would love to write a book as beloved as my own childhood favorites, and to feel that I was part of the grand tradition of storytelling. With that in mind, I might chose Lloyd Alexander’s The Black Cauldron (from his Chronicles of Prydain series) because it combines adventure, humor, tragedy, and heart. I loved those books as a kid (and still do!).

Thanks for having me, Chandler!

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7 thoughts on “2009 Debutante Author Intervew Series: Deva Fagan

  1. Dara says:

    I too write little pieces of info in my purse-sized notebook while I’m at work.

    And that’s amazing how quickly everything happened! Only a month–that means it has to be good!

  2. Deva says:

    Hee, I am glad to know I am not the only one who scribbles on little bits of paper!

    And yes, it was a very quick sale, which I am very grateful for as I might have gone insane otherwise. Not to mention worn out the refresh button on my email…

    Thanks to everyone for your interest in my book, and once again to Chandler for having me here!

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