Even more debut authors coming your way from OneFour KidLit! Today we’re talking to Mary Elizabeth Summer, author of Catch My Grift. One author, Four questions. Fasten your seat belts!
Hey, you’re getting published! How’d that happen? (aka, what was your path to publication)
It all started many moons ago when I was in fifth grade and checked a book out of the library called How To Write A Novel. I devoured that book. I took notes on that book. I slept with that book to absorb its teachings. I practically ate that book for breakfast (don’t tell the librarian).
Then I decided I wanted to be an astronaut, realized no one would ever pick me to be an astronaut, decided to be a mechanical engineer and build myself a spaceship, and then came to my senses just in time to graduate college with a major in Creative Writing so that I could write stories about spaceships. And then I wrote a story about a teenage con artist instead.
All joking aside, I started seriously working toward publication about 7 years ago. I wrote two full novels, half of another novel, and a detailed synopsis of a trilogy before writing CATCH MY GRIFT. But I didn’t try to get an agent until I finished CMG. Then I entered a query contest at Cupid’s Literary Connection and snagged my DREAM agent Laura Bradford (seriously, I’d been cyberstalking her for a year before she requested CMG during the contest).
After I incorporated her few suggestions into the manuscript, she pitched it to 13 editors. Seven months later, I got 3 offers! My kick-ass agent then ninja-ed her way through the negotiation process, and I ended up with the amazing Wendy Loggia at Delacorte as my editor. I’m extremely excited to be working with such a talented, experienced team, and I know CMG will be miles better for it. It still won’t be a spaceship, but it will be just as big a thrill ride.
What’s your debut book about? Can you share any cool details with us?
It’s about a teenage con artist raised by her father in the old-school art of grifting. But she wants out, so she goes to a fancy Chicago private school her dad can’t afford, paying for tuition by pulling small cons for her classmates. Then one day she comes home to find her apartment trashed and her dad missing, and she has to follow a trail of clues her dad left to find him before his mark finds her.
I like to say it’s equal parts law-breaking, clever disguises, family secrets, and snark, with a little bit of romance on the side. There’s also a lot of action, some beautiful cars, and a few twists you might not expect. But to give you an idea of what it’s actually about, the unofficial tagline I’ve got kicking around in my head is: “When you can be anybody, how do you know who you are?”
What cool facts might readers not know about you?
Three facts you might not know about me:
1. Most of my family is at least a little psychic. My dad and mom are kind of a lot psychic. My dad was a remote viewer for the US Army and still teaches people how to do it. My mom bends forks and channels. I have various cousins who are slightly psychic as well. So far, my brothers and I have not caught the wavelength, but you never know.
2. I’m the exact opposite of the protagonist in CATCH MY GRIFT. I’ve never broken the law—well, never on purpose. I’m an introvert, and I embarrass easily. I cannot lie to save my life. And once I actually did look up the definition of ‘gullible’ in the dictionary to see if my picture was there, and it totally was! I’d be a juicy mark, but a lousy grifter.
3. For most of my life, I wanted to be an astronaut, went to Space Camp and everything. Oh, wait—we already covered that.
Do you have any writing quirks–places you need to write or things you need to have with you?
Nope. I can write pretty much anywhere, anytime, on anything. Having a full-time job, an involved (and also busy with her own stuff) partner, a punishing television schedule, and a toddler has burned this superpower into me like an irradiated spider bite into unsuspecting human tissue. There are several things I like to have, like coffee, my writing-project-du-jour playlist, and Scrivener. But I wrote the last third of CMG on my phone while standing on a train commuting to and from work, and I’m pretty sure I would scratch stories onto a cell wall with a nail if I had no other option. So I guess that officially makes me an addict. 😉
|Mary Elizabeth Summer is an instructional designer, a mom, a champion of the serial comma, and a pie junkie. Oh, and she sometimes writes books about teenage delinquents saving the day. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her daughter, her partner, and her evil overlor–er, cat. CATCH MY GRIFT, a YA mystery, will be released by Delacorte in Fall 2014.|