Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Pub Story: Lisa Mantchev

Author guest blogs + publication paths = Pub Stories. It's a Tuesday thing. Click here for more info (esp. if you're an author wanting to participate). Click here for a list of all participants.

Pretty, pretty cover...

About Lisa: Lisa Mantchev grew up in the small Northern California town of Ukiah. She can pinpoint her first forays into fiction to the short stories she thumped out on an ancient typewriter. Playwriting came a few years later with an adaptation of Maeterlinck's The Blue Bird for May Day Festival in the fourth grade. She makes her home on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state with her husband Angel, her daughter Amélie and four hairy miscreant dogs. When not scribbling, she can be found on the beach, up a tree, making jam or repairing things with her trusty glue gun. Eyes Like Stars is her first novel. Find out more at http://theatre-illuminata.com.

The Story

When I have anxiety dreams, I'm usually in some version of Christopher Durang's An Actor's Nightmare: being shoved onstage in a costume that doesn't fit (when there's a costume at all!) and realizing I don't know my lines.

Publishing a book is a little bit like standing in a spotlight, waiting to see if the performance will receive applause or a barrage of rotten fruit. But I feel lucky to be standing here at all, even if I do get pelted with oranges.

No one wants to read a book about the theater.

It's too niche.

Almost as bad as a book about the opera.

I have no idea how we would market this.

These responses are not verbatim, but variations on a theme that we heard when Eyes Like Stars was out on submission. It had taken me nine months to write the novel, sign with my agent, and get it on the editors' desks, and only about nine days to feel that all hope was lost, that my cupcake-riddled, fairy-glittery story wasn't ever going to find a home.

And under all the despair and hair pulling, I wondered if they weren't right. Who would want to read a fantasy set in a theater?

People who like reading and acting and Phantom of the Opera... and High School Musical--that's doing pretty well!--and unconventional fantasy? Please? Maybe?

I hadn't thought about it during the writing process, because that's the time for putting your fingers on the keys and your nose to the screen, but afterward I had plenty of time to think over things like target audience and appropriate age range and marketability.

Before I had the chance to go completely insane, the offer came in from Feiwel & Friends. In keeping with the power of nine, it took nine months before the contract was signed and the news went public. By the time the books hits the shelves, it will have been three years from the time I put the first word on the screen. The novel went through several major revisions--my editor (the lovely and incomparable Rebecca Davis) helped me take a shiny idea and turn it into a novel that worked

But it was, and always will be, a book about the theater.

And I see the excitement over the new Glee TV series, I am hearing the first reactions of the YA bloggers and reviewers who also happen to be theater-lovers, costumers, drama enthusiasts... and I know that it was not too niche, that people DO want to read about theater, that authors shouldn't worry that their book is too different than what's already out there because it may just be the book that readers are waiting to crack open.


Lenore Appelhans said...

I adore novels that are different! I'm not one to read 20 books in a row about brooding vampires (ok, not even 2 in a row, or..er...actually I have read 0 brooding vampire books...).

Llehn said...

I've heard so much good things about this book and I've put it on my wishlist!

Carrie said...

Great post and a great book. I can't wait for the second one.

Anna Claire said...

Seriously, this looks so good! I'm not a huge fantasy reader, but I would totally pick this up, knowing it's about theater! Why do publishers think people don't want to read about the theater...um, hello? I think theater, acting/singing is more popular now than it has been in the past 20 or even 50 years. Good luck!

Tina said...

This book look good. I love the cover. I've already pre-ordered my copy, can't wait for it to come in.

mstohl said...

I LOVE YOUR BOOK! NUMBER ONE FANGIRL! and by the way I think writing the particular, peculiar thing you want to be writing is always what makes the most special books happen.

And I want to take a picture of my copy of BALLET SHOES and send it to you so you can see just how dog-eared it is! :) Margie

Susan Adrian said...

I was lucky enough to read an ARC, and it's fabulous. Really, READ IT as soon as you can!!

Just Your Typical Book Blog said...

I've never read a book that dealt with theater so I'm excited to read something different! Sounds really good.


ReaderGirl said...

So cool! ^^ I want to read this book so much, I can't wait! ;)

~ ReaderGirl Reviews

Michelle Zink said...

Aw, I love this pub story (SUCH a great feature, btw, Steph).

I especially love the part about writing being about putting your fingers on the keys. It's so easy (even more so after you've sold a book) to over-think the target demographic, marketing possibilities, etc., but in the end we can only write a good book and hope that it finds a good home.

In this case, I happen to KNOW Lisa has written a fantastic book - because I've read it - and I can't wait for the rest of the world to discover the magic of the Theatre Illuminata.

Reader Rabbit said...

I love this feature. Can't wait to read the novel!

Kami Garcia said...

This book rocks- that's why we are having a contest on the Beautiful Creatures blog!

Anonymous said...

Such a great interview. Thanks for sharing! Can't wait to read this one it's the high school drama geek in me coming out! Linked to this Pub Story on my blog here: http://bit.ly/GYmEF

Unknown said...

Well, I love fantasy and this looks good. Thanks for the great interview, can't wait to check this out.

Dottie :)

ReaderGirl said...

Reposted the contest!



ReaderGirl said...

Reposted the Pub Story!



Cinnamon said...

Ha! And I'll bet the nontakers are kicking themselves in the pants right now! :D

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