Elissa Sussman: STRAY

We have a lot of fantastic authors at OneFour KidLit and are excited to introduce them all to you. Today, we’re talking to Elissa Sussman, author of STRAY (Greenwillow Books, 2014). One author, four questions. Here we go!

Hey, you’re getting published! How’d that happen?

Even though I had the very basic idea for STRAY (Fairy Godmothers! Magic! Fantasy!) back in college, it took years for me to actually write the damn thing. That was in 2010, also known as the year of perpetual revisions, in which I probably scrapped and rewrote my first chapter at least six times (first chapters are the WORST, am I right?) before I felt ready to start querying.

Then, exactly one year and one day after I started the first draft of STRAY, I received an offer of representation from Samantha Shea of Georges Borchardt, Inc. After that it was back to revisions until finally, my wonderful agent told me that she felt it was ready to go on submission. A month later, it sold to the lovely folks at Greenwillow Books about a year and a half after I had started.

What’s your debut book about? Can you share any cool details with us?

STRAY was pitched as THE HANDMAID’S TALE meets Grimm’s Fairy Tales. It’s the first in a series about a world where magic is a curse that only women bear and society is dictated by a strict religious doctrine called The Path.

I’m an obsessive plotter, so even though the first book is the only one that’s been written, the entire six book series has already been planned and outlined.

What cool facts might readers not know about you?

I’m a huge animation nerd but can’t draw (or animate) to save my life. Luckily I’m really good at bossing people around and can build a killer spreadsheet, which made me perfect for my former life in production management. I’ve had the opportunity to work on a bunch of really amazing movies and you can see my name in the credits of THE CROODS, HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA, TANGLED and THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG.

Can you share a few of your favorite books from childhood?

I was a total indoor kid (and by was, I mean, I still am) so I read ALL THE TIME. But there are a few books that I loved then and continue to re-read now, like DEALING WITH DRAGONS by Patricia C. Wrede, REDWALL by Brian Jacques, THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH by Norton Juster and JACOB HAVE I LOVED by Katherine Peterson.

Elissa Sussman is a fairy tale nerd and lover of freshly baked bread. Her debut, STRAY (Greenwillow, Harper-Collins), is a homage to both. She lives in Los Angeles with her boyfriend and their rescue mutt, Basil.

16 thoughts on “Elissa Sussman: STRAY

  1. I believe that a copy of The Phantom Tollbooth should be placed, without comment or fanfare, on the bookshelf of every child, so that they can discover it for themselves on some bored day.

  2. I love animation too! But can’t actually animate … still, would have loved to work at one of those studios. Also, JACOB HAVE I LOVED is one of my favorite books, and I also read it a lot as a child!

  3. I am all over this book like a fat kid on cake. Hell, I -am- the fat kid on cake. Doesn’t change a thing. Sounds amazing.

  4. Wow, with that job credit to your name I think you’re even cooler! I’m with Sara R. *grabby hands*

  5. Six books!?! I’m WRITING my sequel and still don’t know how it all ends. Prop to you!

    Also, don’t hate me, but I haven’t read THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH. I guess no one sneaked into my room and hid it on my bookshelf.

  6. Your book sounds fantastic, I love fairy tales and fantasy! Can’t wait to read it, I added it on Goodreads. The Enchanted Forest Chronicles and Redwall series were some of my favorites growing up. And how neat that you were involved in all those movies! My fiance and I loved them, we’re big animation and especially Disney fans. Princess and the Frog is in my top 5 Disney movies 🙂 I hope everyone gets to read all 6 of your books someday, I’m such a fan of obsessive plotting- the better to sneak foreshadowed clues into the story ala Marissa Meyer or JK Rowling!

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