Innovative Editing’s Author of the Month program has some seriously amazing authors lined up for 2018. And they have some pretty awesome reads.
However, several of them are still in the editorial part of their publishing process at this point. (Guess how I know that?) And others were still in that phase while I was looking to book my December Author of the Month. Which is why they’re my January, February and March spotlights...
And Jeannette DiLouie is my December writer.
That’s right. I’m interviewing myself!
If you think that’s silly or makes me seem like an egocase, then don’t let me interview myself again! I still have Author of the Month spots open for 2018, so send me an email explaining exactly why your published book is so remarkable… or how all you need is a really great editor to turn your unpublished manuscript into the next really great read.
December’s Author of the Month: Jeannette DiLouie
Featured Title: Maiden America
Genre: Historical Fiction
Age Appropriate: 12+
Bio: Jeannette DiLouie was born a New Jersey girl and will die the same even if she grew up in Pennsylvania, lived in Maryland and is now back in PA. She’s also a cookie dough-eating, travel-obsessed bookworm and editor who loves helping others reach their own writing goals and dreams. Ethnically half-Italian, Jeannette is tragically addicted to carbohydrates. Ethnically half-Scottish, she’s counting down the days when she can go visit again. And being just under five-foot three, she happily claims her short-girl rights to climb on any shelf or counter she needs to.
Jeannette: Well, Jeannette, I think I can honestly say I’ve read each of your books more times than I have anyone else’s. I mean, I’ve read each and every one of your novels at least seven times. Though, admittedly, most of that was as an editor.
And you definitely need an editor. Your first drafts can be pretty bad.
Jeannette: First off, thanks so much for having me here, Jeannette! It’s a real honor. As for the quality of my first drafts, I’ll be the first person to agree with you there. Then again, first drafts aren’t supposed to be stellar. They’re supposed to be first drafts: signs that a writer put his or her skills to good use and actually created an entire manuscript.
So the quality of my initial novel-writing stages doesn’t bother me, particularly when the final copies are such great reads.
Jeannette: Okay. I’ll grant you that. You’re not a Kate Quinn-level writer (I mean, who is?), but I do definitely get into your stories. The characters especially are so vivid! So here’s your first official question: How did you come up with Maiden America’s Abigail Carpenter, Revolutionary War patriot and unexpectedly recruited spy?
Jeannette: Oh, yeah. I love my characters too. But I can’t take a single bit of credit for them. They just pop into my head a certain way, and that’s the way I write them out.
Jeannette: Are you serious?
Jeannette: Totally. Abigail was always meant to be smart and strong-willed with an intense love of family and country – sometimes to the point of being a little self-righteous and prejudiced against the enemy, both British and Hessian alike. She’s an engaging, likable and realistically flawed character that I can’t and don’t take credit for.
Jeannette: Alright. But what about the plot? A 17-year-old girl is forced to house British officers after they take over her hometown, only for her to turn the Revolutionary War tables on them and use that forced occupation to spy?
Jeannette: I’m a hardcore pantser, so that just popped into my head too. I think I was 16 or something – maybe 18? – when I knew I wanted to write Maiden America. I had this opening scene write itself out in my head where a 17-year-old girl is standing in her living room as the British come barging in, demanding to be housed. Her whole entire family is out to war except for one brother, who’s been left to mind her and their home. Yet he promptly gets dragged off to jail after a little misunderstanding between him and one of the officers.
The rest is history. Or at least really well-researched historical fiction.
Jeannette: I’m going to address that last line in a moment. But first, is there any part of the writing process that you struggle with, you little egocase? You do know you’re coming across as really obnoxious right now.
Maiden America is awesome, but maybe its author could use some extra editorial work.
Jeannette: Oh my word, yes! To both the struggles and the editorial work. When it comes to my novels in general, setting is something I can never seem to figure out. How much is too much? How little is too little?
Then there’s my first drafts, which we already agreed can be pretty terrible at times. With my historical fiction in particular, I have a bad tendency of writing in way too many historical details, then sulking over all the stuff I have to take out in order to make the final draft smooth and engaging.
My problem there is that I just love historical details so much! History is utterly awesome when handled the right way.
Jeannette: And what would be “the right way?”
Jeannette: The right way is telling it as an engaging narrative with vivid characters, gripping plots and intriguing side stories. Because that’s what history really is, not just dates and names and places. It’s emotions and dreams, heartaches and triumphs, feats of heroism and spy tales full of shadows and secrets.
History isn’t dry, no matter how our school textbooks portray it.
Jeannette: What would you say is the best way to discover all that?
Jeannette: Read awesome non-fiction books like David McCullough’s 1776 and Kenneth Daigler’s Spies, Patriots, and Traitors. Those were two of my sources for Maiden America, and they’re such great reads. 1776 really does read much more like a novel. So does The Man Who Captured Washington by John McCavitt and Christopher T. George, which I read as research for the sequel to Maiden America’s sequel, due out in 2018.
Jeannette: Okay, I take back what I said before about you being an egocase. Because you left out another great resource: historical fiction writers who care about portraying history as it really is instead of some melodramatic adaption.
Readers who simply aren’t into non-fiction can still learn all about history through the eyes of creative characters and riveting plots based around carefully researched events.
So for anyone who cares about learning while they’re having fun – or having fun while they’re learning – Maiden America is the perfect Christmas present for yourself or a bookworm you love.
And for any authors and authors-in-the-making who want to see their own works featured in an Innovative Editing Author of the Month interview, you know where to find me! The same goes for if you need a great editor to make your story awesome Author of the Month material.
Don't be shy about not being a perfect writer. You already know you're in good company.