Friday, February 28, 2014

Feature Friday: Seth Fishman

Seth Fishman was born and raised in Midland, Texas (think Friday Night Lights) and received his MFA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England (think cold and rainy and millions of castles). His YA thriller, The Well's End, is the first in a series and the protagonist, Mia Kish, is roughly inspired by a hometown drama that (when he was young) really blew him away: (http://articles.latimes.com/2012/oct/...).

When not writing, Seth is a literary agent at The Gernert Company (www.thegernertco.com), and thinks writing and agenting are the two very best jobs in the world.


Interview:

A.L.:
What piece of advice would you give to a budding author?

Seth:
Read. And write of course. Everyone always tells you to write every day and I don't necessarily buy that as a necessity, but I would say that writing is like any physical talent - you have to practice and work hard to get good at it. But that aside, if you don't read what's great now, if you don't read the classics, then it's hard to have a good context for the book you're writing.  Inspiration, techniques, and originality come from that.

A.L.:
What's your favorite book and why?

Seth: 
As a kid the Lord of the Rings series really got me going, but now I sort of have too many favorites.  Ender's Game is a great intro to scifi, while Wind Up Girl is an amazing finale. The Sound and the Fury is the most challenging and rewarding book I've ever read, and With Fire & Sword is the most obscure favorite book I've read. The best book I read this year was Pierce Brown's Red Rising. It all and always changes, which is a great thing.

A.L.:
Where did you get the idea for The Well's End?

Seth: 
I got the idea with real purpose, I wanted to write something set in a prep school, something with poison, and with a character inspired by Baby Jessica, a real person who fell down a well when I was a kid. Poison turned to virus, and the book went in an entirely surprising direction as I wrote it, but the idea came from taking these three things and literally sitting down for one afternoon session of brainstorming. Kinda boring sounding but it was fun; I could feel my excitement build as I hit the right idea.

A.L.:
Did you hit any snags while writing The Well's End?  What were they and how did you fix them?

Seth: 
Oh gosh yes.  I got rid of a full major character, there was just too many people talking, and that was rough.  And writing from a young woman's perspective was particularly challenging, but I'm not sure that was a 'snag'.  Writing a plot, the story, was the easy part for me. The snag was trying to make the characters real, to make them seem human. A plot isn't worth anything if you don't have real characters moving through it, so I worked hard to embody them, with long discussions with my editor and, of course, by banging my head against the wall a few times.

A.L.:
Which one of the characters in The Well's End is your favorite and why?

Seth: 
Agh, tough one. I think I'm most proud of Mia, having poured myself into trying to write from her angle, and to make her authentic, and she's certainly my favorite, but I did have lots of fun with Rob. I think I came up with fifteen t-shirts for him to wear.

A.L.:
Can you tell us a little bit about your journey as an author?

Seth: 
I've wanted to be a writer since middleschool. I guess, when I think about it, my path is one of try try again. I've written some three books before The Well's End, and went to college very specifically hoping to write (both an undergraduate and postgraduate program).  I'm not sure I'm really the biggest advocate of an MFA program, but I am an advocate of writing, putting a book in a drawer, and then persevering.  As I'm a literary agent, some might think that's really helped me out but in truth, the writing has to hold up.  Aside from the books in a drawer I've also been through a couple agents and agencies - I suppose that means that there's always hope, as long as the focus is on writing as well as you can.

A.L.:
What are you working on now?  Sequel?  Something new?

Seth: 
I've just finished the second draft of the second book in this series, actually.  A book that takes the ending and goes into a place you just might not be able to imagine. That's my goal, to create characters that are strong enough that you'll be happy to come with me wherever I go.

A.L.:
What's your biggest fear and why?

Seth: 
My biggest fear is that I'll be a bad father. No real evidence points to that happening, but I can't help it.  I want to run out and learn how to fly fish.  I want to write board books and picture books and chapter and middle grade and every age FOR my theoretical kids so that I can connect more with my them.

A.L.:
Do you find it hard to balance your life between being an agent and being an author?

Seth: 
This is a great question, and I'm surprised no one has asked it yet.  The answer is absolutely. I don't think that the work I do for my clients is hindered in any way, but it's really hard to spend all day reading rough manuscripts and then come home and sit right back at the computer and do the same thing with my own.  It's hard to know what to share about my book with my clients, hard to figure out the best way to make those things mesh.  But the truth is, my clients are so wonderful and supportive and, frankly, helpful - I may know tons about their contracts, but they are the ones I get to learn from when it comes to tough edits and book readings. I think I have the best jobs in the world and I work very hard to make sure they are compatible.

A.L.:
What's your favorite place in all of England and why?  How about Texas?

Seth: 
Ha, love this question too.  I LOVE England and adore so many places.  York, for instance, is so amazing because you can really see how an old major city looks, and as a Roman history major (read: nerd), you can also see where Constantine was crowned emperor. London is a place I'd move to in a second; I love the history, the nooks, the streets, I love it all.  But my favorite place is definitely Hay-on-Wye, a small town in Wales with this HUGE bookfair every year.  The biggest writers come, and the entire village is set up for it; there are like 30 bookstores in this tiny village; it's a book readers' paradise!

As to Texas, Austin is the best place to live there by far; really cool town.  But the Big Bend National Park is really a great place to camp and I'd love to get back there. And my home town has all this food I miss; it's not a foodie kinda place, but it's home and I'm the nostalgic type.

The Giveaway:
Seth is giving away a signed copy of THE WELL'S END.

The Well's End: A deadly virus and an impossible discovery unite in one enthralling can’t-miss read...

Sixteen-year-old Mia Kish has always been afraid of the dark. After all, she’s baby Mia, the one who fell down a well. That was years ago, though the darkness still haunts her. But when her classmates and teachers at ritzy Westbrook Academy start dying of old age from a bizarre and frightening virus that ages its victims years in a matter of hours, Mia becomes haunted by a lot more than the dark. Their deaths are gruesome and Mia worries she and her friends may be next. In order to survive, Mia and her small crew must break quarantine and outrun armed soldiers in hazmat suits who shoot first and ask questions later.

And there’s only one place to go—the Cave, aka Fenton Electronics. Mia knows it’s somehow connected and hopes her dad, Director of Fenton Electronics, who has always been strangely secretive about his work, has the answers she needs, and more importantly a cure to save everyone before the whole town succumbs to the mysterious virus. Unfortunately, it’s not answers Mia discovers, but something far more treacherous and impossible than even the virus itself.

A high-stakes, fast-paced adventure with imagination and heart.


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How to Enter:
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