Danielle Ellison: SALT

We have a lot of fantastic authors at OneFour KidLit and are excited to introduce them all to you. Today we’re talking to Danielle Ellison author of SALT coming in September 2013 from Entangled DigiTEEN and FOLLOW ME THROUGH DARKNESS coming from Spencer Hill Press in Fall 2014. One author, four questions. Here we go!

Hey, you’re getting published! How’d that happen? (aka, what was your path to publication)

My story is strange. I mean, thrilling and exciting — but strange. And long. I’ll start at the beginning of my journey and try to summarize.

I was a sophomore in college and I read A NORTHERN LIGHT by Jennifer Donnelly; I found it on a table and I had no idea it was YA — or that YA was even a thing. (I’m of the firm belief that Harry Potter is not YA.) Anyway, I read that book and cried in my room because I mean, how do people tell stories like that–and how do I do it? My roommate then told me to stop crying and take a writing class, then I could tell my own stories. So I did and I loved writing. It was something that I had never experienced, this harmonious blend of joy and frustration. It was awesome, and I was hooked.

After college I went to South Africa and met some people who were living this life driven by passion; so much so that their families disowned them because they didn’t agree. I remember coming back and knowing that I wanted to live a life like that, and for some reason, I knew that started with writing a book. So I wrote my first book. A really no-good-very-bad book that lives in a dusty word file now.

And then I started Silhouettes in fall 2010 and queried seven people (literally) and got five requests — all of which came back as a no, but one came back with really detailed feedback on how I should revise. It was spot on, but I wasn’t ready; I waited a month and then re-wrote it. After eight revisions (six or so of which were total rewrites) Silhouettes became FOLLOW ME THROUGH DARKNESS and I queried some more. At that point, it was January 2012 and I missed all the windows for dystopian from agents and publishers. So I shelved it, got a promoted at Spencer Hill Press to Senior Editor and started writing SALT.

I wrote SALT in six months, which included writing half the book and then starting over. And just as I started querying SALT, Kate Kaynak at Spencer Hill told me she wanted to talk. I thought I’d done something wrong, but when we got on that call she said she’d finally (over a year later) read FMTD and she had a few changes she wanted me to make, but that she thought SHP was the best home for that story. So I said yes and a month or so later in (September 2012) I had a book deal for the whole trilogy! Woo!

Then something crazy happened: Entangled Publishing emailed me with an offer on SALT on Halloween. I was floored because–what? I only sent them my book at the urging of my friends because they all thought I had nothing to lose. I had a phone call with Liz Peltier and Guillian Helm, in which Guillian told me all the reasons she loved SALT and shared her vision, and then they proceeded to tell me they’d like to make SALT a launch title for their new digital teen line — I knew I had to say yes.  A launch title? An editor who loved my book? I’d be silly to pass that up. (As an editor too I know how important that is.) Then they went a step further and told me they’d like to publish SALT and it’s sequel before FTMD comes out so I already have a fanbase for a print book. So Spencer Hill pushed FMTD back to October 2014, and now I technically have two debuts: One in digital only and one in print. I guess SALT is really my debut, but FMTD is such a part of my heart and it sold first, so I don’t know. I’m just really thrilled to get to share my work!

Told you that was a long story. Sorry. You can check out more details here and here.

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

SALT is a witch story, and in it the witches exist to protect Nons (non-magical humans) from demons but over the years the demons have learned that they can steal a witch’s power, and when powers are stolen the witch is killed. So in protecting Nons the witches endanger themselves. Penelope Grey is a powerless witch who gest cornered by a demon in an alley and somehow uses powers to escape. The whole story follows her journey to find out why and to prove that she’s just as good as other witches, even without powers.

Cool fact: It’s called SALT because salt is one of the only protective tools that can be used against demons.

FOLLOW ME THROUGH DARKNESS is a dystopian about a girl named Neely who discovers her whole life is a lie, and has thirty days to find this group in the outside world before everyone she loves is destroyed by the leaders who build her life. It’s a high stakes, intense, darker book with lots of kissing.

What are you most excited about in the debut process?

I’m just excited to have everything out there! I’m excited about sharing my book covers and having people read the stories.

I’m definitely most excited about people meeting my characters! I adore Penelope. She’s fun and snarky and really kick-ass. She knows what she wants and she goes after it. She’s also got this great family unit and love interest. I think people will like her, and it will be so fun to talk about it! And Neely will present a totally different side of me as a writer.  Where Penelope is snarky and sure, Neely is intense and unsure. I hope people read both of the books so they can see just how different those characters and worlds are.

As exciting as sharing my books is, it’s also the scariest part because they are so different.

What cool facts might readers not know about you?

-I’m a robot. Not really, but my authors and friends starting saying that a few months back because I do WAY too many things at once, and somewhere along the way I think it became true. I do way too many things! I write (too many books at once), edit, work at a bookstore planning YA events, and somehow balance it all. It’s crazy. Never be like me.

-I can’t say certain words correctly, like “color” and “collar.” I don’t know how to say them so they sound different. Random and weird.

-One day, I want to be British and live in a flat in London with a cat and tea and a hot boy who may or may not resemble Rupert Grint. Or David Tennant. Or Nicholas Hoult. Or Jensen Ackles. (See? I’m flexible!)

-I didn’t drive until I was twenty.

-When I was born, I died. Seriously. I was dead for two minutes. My mom says they pronounced me and then I cried. Obviously, I was meant to grace the world with my crazy-awesomeness.

-I like sarcasm.

-Supernatural is my favorite show. Dr. Who, Friends, Shameless (US), Awkward., and Boy Meets World are next.

63306_595695634866_1242484003_n Danielle Ellison is a nomad who’s lived in more cities than she count on her hands. Due to her nomadic tendencies, she sold some books in a weird order and how has two debuts. Her digital novel SALT (Entangled DigiTEEN) comes out September 2013 and then FOLLOW ME THROUGH DARKNESS (Spencer Hill Press), the first of a print trilogy, releases October 2014.
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