Interview with Traci Chee Author of The Reader!
I’m so excited to have Traci Chee on the blog today discussing her upcoming debut novel, The Reader! In addition, there is an ARC giveaway at the bottom :D. Finally, if you are as excited about The Reader as I am, don’t miss The Reader box from Books on Dragonwings for SIX items themed after The Reader and a hardcover!!!!
The Reader has a lot of different stories wrapped together; did you have all these stories in mind when you started or did the interweaving grow from something more linear?
From the very first moment I started dabbling in the ideas that would later become The Reader, I knew this story would be complex–it actually began by having two people in different universes reading about each other via magic books! Since then it’s evolved into one world, one book, with many different myths and stories that come together in (hopefully) surprising ways!
I love the extra details throughout the pages of The Reader such as mysterious stains and blacked out words; did you request those details or have any control over them?
Thank you! I love the mysterious stains and blacked out words too! When I was drafting, I had so many dreams for including interesting formatting and textual elements, and I feel so lucky to be working with excellent people at Penguin/Putnam, because they have been so willing to follow me down that rabbit hole. I compiled a huge Google doc of different ideas, and in the process of working with the designers, they’ve even added a few new elements that have absolutely made me cackle with delight at their cleverness!
Some authors stick with one world at a time and some have multiple series going at once; are you working in other worlds currently or focusing on the world of Sea of Ink and Gold?
I’m still in the world of Sea of Ink and Gold, revising Book 2 and drafting Book 3, orchestrating battles and making plans to rip readers’ hearts out!
What aspects of being a debut author weren’t you expecting?
Um, is it too easy to say, “everything”? I feel like ever since I signed with my agent, the fierce, dragon-riding Barbara Poelle, I have been learning so much about the publishing industry. From working with an editor to seeing the cover design process to learning about publicity and marketing to meeting sales reps, it has all been so fascinating and so unexpected! Publishing is huge. And incredibly complex. I always have so much to ask and I’m always so interested in how all the different aspects of publishing a book come together, I’m just grateful that my agent and editor still answer my questions, haha.
You interned in publishing in 2014; did you know you wanted to move into the role of being solely an author all along? What has your journey in the publishing industry looked like?
That’s right! I was so lucky to be a slush pile reader for an agent in 2014, because it really sharpened my eye for pitching and gave me great insight into another aspect of the publishing process. But I’ve known I wanted to be a writer since I was in high school–I went to college specifically to hone my craft, and later earned my master’s in English and creative writing too. After a brief stint in teaching, I realized that for me, writing is the only job that is always interesting, always challenging, and always fulfilling, regardless of how good or bad my day at the computer is. Writing, while so, so difficult, is something that’s in my soul, and I knew I absolutely had to give myself my best shot at doing it for a career.
YA speculative fiction (and speculative fiction in general) has a tendency towards Caucasian-looking leads and, if there is a non-Caucasian lead, not including their image on the cover. What was your experience with Sefia clearly not fitting into this trend and ending up with her being the focus of your gorgeous cover?
Thank you for asking this question! I’ve loved speculative fiction ever since I was a kid, reading The Chronicles of Narnia, A Wrinkle in Time, and doing book reports on Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series, but even though I loved these books with all my heart, I didn’t see myself in them the way I really wanted to because the main characters never looked like me. So when I set out to write The Reader, I knew very early on that I wanted to make sure my main character was a person of color. I wanted to write the protagonist I would’ve loved to have had when I was a kid. And when it became clear that we were going to include a girl on the cover, I requested that she reflect as closely as possible the way Sefia appears in the book. Fortunately, the wonderful people at Penguin were completely on board, and I could not be more proud that we got a POC on this cover. I hope readers will be able to see themselves in this character, not just in her nerve and courage and drive, but also in her eyes, her hair, and the color of her skin.
Will there be dragons in Sea of Ink and Gold ever? Asking for a friend.
There are absolutely dragons in the world of Sea and Ink and Gold! However, they were always quite rare, and it’s said that Captain Dimarion, one of The Reader’s most notorious outlaws, killed the last dragon for the enormous diamond he keeps at the bow of his ship… Still, what I love about the world of The Reader is that you never know what stories are true, what stories are exaggerations, and what stories are lies people tell to make them seem more fearsome than they really are. ;)
As part of the Debut Authors Bash, I have an ARC of The Reader to giveaway to one lucky US reader! You need to have a US mailing address to enter please! All other Debut Author Bash rules apply and the giveaway is being handled by the Bash, so it is out of my hands.
© 2016, Anya. All rights reserved.