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Author Interview: Pip Harry – debut contemporary YA author

Pip Harry’s debut contemporary YA novel I’ll Tell You Mine hit stores in the US on April 2! Take a look at yesterday’s post to get the scoop on the book and what it’s all about. I was lucky enough to hook up with Ms. Harry early on and was rewarded with the amazing opportunity to interview her.

Pip Harry is a journalist who has worked on magazines for many years, including chasing celebrities as entertainment editor for NW and deputy editor for TV Week before turning herself into a yoga-loving frequent flyer as a health & travel editor for Women’s Day. She’s the co-founder of the relationships website, realitychick.com.au and has had short stories published in the UTS Writer’s Anthology and Wet Ink. Pip lives in Sydney, Australia with her partner and their gorgeous daughter, Sophie. When not at a keyboard, she can be found competing in ocean swimming and finding the perfect flat white (bio courtesy of University of Queensland Press/Penguin Australia).

Have you always been a writer? If not, when and why did you start?
I’ve always had stories and characters in my head since I was a very little girl. At high school I wrote the odd short story and dreamed of becoming a journalist. As an adult I held various fun writing and editing jobs in weekly women’s magazines, covering entertainment and lifestyle while scribbling stories at night for a creative writing degree at University. Fiction writing is my heart and journalism is my head!
How did the idea for I’ll Tell You Mine come to you?
The idea was inspired by my own time in a Melbourne boarding school as a lost 15-year-old.  I sat down to write a little about that and a few years later, I’ll Tell You Mine, was the end result. It’s a YA novel about an angry Goth girl, Kate, who’s sent to boarding school hiding a big secret.  It took me several years to write and in the end the story became 95% fictionalized. I let people guess at the other 5%!
Do you have a particular writing schedule or routine? Could you briefly describe it?
I tend to write when the characters start shouting at me to tell their story. It comes in fits and starts – sometimes I’m churning out words regularly, sometimes I’m more interested in lying on a couch and watching bad reality TV.
Where do you write? Why?
I wrote I’ll Tell You Mine at my (usually cluttered) work desk in my bedroom, but I’ve lately started writing at cafes, libraries and even a quiet pub. Anywhere I can plug in my laptop. With a busy toddler at home and lots of chores to do, I’m finding when I do get writing time, I need to get away from distractions (like that never ending pile of laundry)
What is the hardest part of drafting for you?
Probably the second draft – before anyone has had a chance to read it and it feels like a lump of ugly clay waiting to be sculpted. I actually loved all the drafting that happened once I signed with my publisher. Finally, I had professional feedback and book editors to bounce ideas off. It was great!
How did you come to be published? (long road or short?)
Long, long, long road. I wrote my first novel for young people when I was 22 years old and I’m 37 now. There were lots of dead ends and I got lost in the woods for a while. It was tough, but worth it.
How do you handle criticism/rejection?
Like everyone, I find rejection hard to swallow. When I wrote my first novel I was young and I struggled with the constant set-backs and ‘no’s.’ It bruised my confidence so badly that I ended up not writing fiction for over five years. I have a tougher skin now (well, I like to think I do anyway)
What is one part of writing craft every aspiring author ought to thoroughly understand?
That it takes an enormous amount of work and while you fine-tune your words you have to be flexible and listen to feedback. Also, it’s a mind game and you can’t get spooked. Remember to believe in what you’re writing and how you’re writing it.  If you don’t believe in your work, you’ll have a hard time getting others to. Lastly, find a writer’s group – very few authors don’t benefit from support and feedback from other scribblers.
Do you read other authors’ books while you have a work in progress? Why or why not?
I do keep reading and I also tend to dip into a few ‘touchstone’ books in my genre during the writing process, to see how the author has used a plot device or writing style.
What is the most rewarding part of writing?
Sharing it with other people and seeing their reaction. And also being able to immerse myself in a completely different reality and ‘meet’ some amazing, inspiring characters and bring them to the page.

“Funner” Questions
PBJ or ham & cheese? Vegemite
Coffee or tea? Coffee. Since becoming a Mum caffeine is a big part of my life!
Summer or Winter? Winter if there’s fresh powder and I’m on skis. But mostly, summer
Typing or longhand? Typing
Which comes first: plot or character? Character. If you nail the character, the plot will follow
Emails or letters? Emails
Coke or Pepsi? Coke
Cake or pie? Cake, with lots of icing!
Dogs or cats? Woofers
Indoors or outdoors? Outdoors, preferably at the beach hitting the surf.
Beer or wine? Wine. My dad’s a winemaker and he’s taught me to appreciate a nice drop
Mac or PC? PC
Chocolate or hard candy? Chocolate, any kind, lots of it.
Outline or fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants? Flying is my preferred mode of writing transport

Thanks to Ms. Harry for taking the time to respond and giving such honest answers! You can click on the image below to order your copy of I’ll Tell You Mine today!

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