Last year I interviewed fellow Spellbound River Press author, Chris Eboch after the release of her book Ghost Miner's Treasure. Next week Chris has a new book coming out with Spellbound River. The book, The Eyes of Pharaoh, was featured on my #IMWAYR on Monday. It's the story of Seshta, an Egyptian temple dancer, who places her dreams on hold to save her friend and prevent the fall of Egypt. I really loved this book. In celebration of next week's February 24th release, I'm reposting some of her interview today.
When did you decide to become an author?
I originally went to college to study photography. I discovered I did not want to be a professional photographer, but I got a great education in creativity and critiquing. I also wrote for the school paper, which got me thinking about writing magazine nonfiction as a career. After a couple of years trying to do that on my own, I went back to college and got a degree in Professional Writing and Publishing. I worked for a couple of magazines briefly before selling my first middle grade novel, The Well of Sacrifice. From then on, I was a children’s book writer!
Tell us about your journey. How did you get your first book published?
I had spent a summer traveling in Mexico and Central America with a friend. That inspired The Well of Sacrifice, a novel set in ninth century Mayan Guatemala. I started writing it while I was looking for work, because I needed something fun to do in between temp jobs and sending out resumes. I’d always loved middle grade fiction and had continued reading it into adulthood. It seemed like a fun place to explore, and shorter than writing an adult novel. It turns out my style, which tends to be fast-paced and tight because of my journalism training, works well for kid lit.
Was there ever a point when you felt like giving up?
I sold my first novel, which in retrospect is astonishing. But I couldn’t sell the next half-dozen novels I wrote. I did manage to get some educational work for hire. That kept me active in the children’s book industry. Otherwise, I don’t know if I would have had the stamina to keep going after so many rejections. I estimate I’ve had at least a thousand rejection letters, if you count all the short stories, articles, novels, and queries to work for hire companies. But the only way to succeed is not to give up.
Is there anything about being a published author that has surprised you?
I’ve been published since 1999, so I have had many surprises, but I suppose I have adapted by now. The publishing business is wacky and outdated, which becomes very clear when you try to explain it to an outsider. It’s slow to update, but fortunately, today we have many different options. And most of the people working in it, from authors and illustrators to agents and editors, are fabulous.
Any advice you would give to a writer just starting out?
Don’t be in too much of a rush to get published. It takes a long time to learn your craft, so take classes, read books and magazines about writing, study other books, and find a great critique group. Eventually you might want to hire a professional editor to give you personalized feedback.
You’ll definitely face rejections, bad reviews, and more at some point in your career, so try to put aside the concept of “failing” and instead focus on “learning.” Maybe your manuscript was rejected by 50 agents. Are you a better writer now than you were before you wrote it? Do you know more about querying? Have you developed a new resistance to rejection? If you’ve made progress as a writer or as a person, then that process was a success.
Also, it’s important to remember that people have different obligations, training, financial resources, and family support. All those things can affect your career path, and so can luck. Do the best you can with what you have, but honor and celebrate your whole self. You are more than just a writer.
Here's how you can learn more about Chris and her books:
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