Today I am delighted to have the opportunity to talk to Sage Collins about her YA novel, Love Sucks, which is being released TODAY! Greetings, Sage. Please make yourself comfortable and help yourself to a beverage of your choice. By the way, please share with us what choice that might be, and whether or not you have a favorite concoction that you sip or guzzle while working on your manuscripts?
What a great question! In fact, I could probably ramble on about drink preferences all day. My very favorite writing drink is no longer available, much to the sadness of my taste buds (but to the joy of my hips). I used to write a lot at the bookstore Borders, sitting in the café there for hours. It was seriously my writing home and the best place to get in the zone. And every time, I would get a Javanilla milkshake and try to make it last as long as possible while I worked. Well, Borders doesn’t exist anymore, so usually I drink a bottled Frappacino while I work, unless I make the drive to my favorite café, 45 minutes away, and then it’s a Mudslide Mocha blended drink (non-alcoholic). And let’s not even start in on what I would have been drinking 99% of the time while I was writing Love Sucks but no longer drink at all (hint: it’s Diet Pepsi). Have I mentioned that I could ramble on about drinks for quite a while? How did you know it was a good opener?
I didn’t! But I’m glad it worked out well for you. Hope you’re nice and relaxed now. Just sit back and sip on that Frappacino and we’ll get started.
Sage, I must say, the title of your book is very interesting. And your tagline absolutely slays me. Will you please share with us a small blurb of the book, along with where the inspiration came from?
Absolutely, and thank you!
The blurb from Musa is:
Mailee is about to answer the age-old question: "How much love would a love sucker suck if a love sucker fell in love?"
Mailee’s greatest wish is to be an ordinary teenage girl, but thanks to one stupid demon gene she consumes love from any human she touches. The only person she can touch is her best friend Eric, a hot lust-drainer. Except for slight hand-brushes to keep from starving, she avoids humans.
Until she meets Logan, a diabetic and the first human who could understand Mailee’s diet angst. She grows closer to him, but each touch risks his love for her. If she wants a normal relationship, she’ll have to become human. But the only way requires her to free and be infected by demons representing the Seven Deadly Sins. Sloth? Pride? No problem. But when wrath-infected Mailee punches the cheerleader who’s making eyes at Eric, she realizes getting through the sins might cost too much.
Like Eric. Because if she turns human, he’ll be the only one she can’t touch.
This is one of the rare novels of mine that wasn’t inspired by a song (it’s also a rare novel of mine that doesn’t have a winged girl or an invisible/imaginary boy, weird). I actually got the inspiration for this novel from another writer. We were playing a game where your character answers a question and then asks another, and then the next character answers that question and asks another. The point of it was to develop the voice of your character and, of course, have fun. Her character was a demon that drained some sort of negative emotion. Fear or sadness or something. And my character from an older novel exclaimed how awful it was that he drained emotions. Her character answered that it wasn’t awful at all. It was the love drainers you had to watch out for. Bam! I was hit with the idea of a reluctant love drainer who had no choice but to feed on the love of humans to survive but was terrified of draining them completely. And what was the worst thing that could happen if you were in that situation? You’d fall in love with one of those humans, of course. The tongue twister came to me the next day and pretty much solidified the whole thing.
How fun. I guess that just proves how valuable some of the games we play can be. The whole concept of this novel seems pretty unique to me. Can you shed some light on whether or not this has been done before? Perhaps I’m reading the wrong books, but I, personally, have never run across it.
I don’t think it’s been done like this before. There are other literary characters that are vampires who feed off emotion in one way or another (incidentally, Mailee hates being called a vampire). The adult urban fantasy series The Dresden Files comes immediately to mind, although the feeding works in a very different way. I know that at a few points after I wrote Love Sucks, I would talk to an author who wrote about a character that feeds off emotion (demon, vampire, or otherwise), and of course one writer I know was working on one before I started, but she didn’t complete that story.
So, I’m curious. Does Mailee attend a special school for kids who are part-demon? Or are most of the other kids normal humans?
There are exactly three Haustores—that’s the name for the emotion drainers--at Mailee’s school at the time of the book: Mailee, Eric, and Justin. Everyone else is a regular human, which is great for Eric and Justin, who don’t mind draining lust and inhibition, respectively, but not so good for love-draining Mailee. So, the Haustores are “in the closet,” so to speak, and, except for a few exceptions like Eric’s parents and Logan, the rest of the world doesn’t know about them.
Do you usually have a specific method of creating and visualizing your characters? I know some writers create character sketches for each one, and some choose actors, or a look that an actor has acquired for a specific film, when visualizing their characters. What works for you?
I don’t do this anymore, but I used to create avatars for them on elouai.com. Spent maaaany hours procrastinating on there. So you can see my Mailee and Logan, but I never could manage to make an adequate Eric.
Eric is one of two characters to be visually based on an actor, and it’s really from one show (he also was named after the same character—Eric from the little-known show Wonderfalls). But I visualize my characters and my novels more as animation than as actors or real-life people. But I also don’t visualize them very sharply, if you know what I mean?
Mai and Lo are better defined visually than the main characters from my WIP because I had those avatars. Despite this, I know what the new characters look like enough to describe them as well as I can describe Mai and Lo. As to whether this means I describe them well or not... Well, the readers will have to judge that.
Oh, Sage, I really like those. You're very creative, lady. Please tell us which part of the writing process, from idea conception to final approval of galleys, do you find to be the most exhilarating? Stressful?
I find so many parts exhilarating, so I’ll answer stressful first. And that is absolutely waiting on full requests. I’ve mellowed out a lot, but back when I was querying Love Sucks and my following novel Fireflies (which is currently published in short-story form in the Absolute Visions anthology), I was a nervous wreck. Every second I was away from my e-mail was torture. Of course, every second I was near my e-mail was also torture. Refresh refresh refresh. Meanwhile, I was doing some really repetitive and boring work at my job, and this actually started me downloading audiobooks to listen to at work, just to give me something else to concentrate on for those 8 hours a day.
There are lots of really exciting parts from conception to publication. Even though I am super-excited that my book is coming out today, I don’t think this is actually the most exciting part for me. I love coming up with the new ideas. Starting them can be daunting, but in that initial “I have an idea and I can visualize scenes I might write” phase, I am so twitterpated with the novel. Most of my ideas come from me taking something that’s meant to be figurative and making it literal (often from a song). My current project is about a boy who is fighting alongside the girl of his dreams for the rights of these androids that are built to be the perfect boyfriends...and then he finds out that he is one built for her. The came from Colbie Caillat’s “Tailor Made,” when I was listening one day and thought, “What if the boyfriend really was tailor-made for her?”
But, speaking of music, one of the most exciting parts of writing novels for me is making a soundtrack for each one. As much as I love books, I love music even more. I have actually found that if I don’t make a soundtrack, I almost never get the project to a querying level. In some ways, the soundtrack works as an outline for me while I’m writing the novel, but it’s also very fluid because I’m a lot more flexible moving around, deleting, and adding songs than I am with a paper outline that tells me what order I should write it in. If I get stuck in the novel, the right song can inspire me. When I get through with the novel, the soundtrack keeps the story fresh in my mind, so that I’m still enthusiastic about it during edits and querying. In fact, the android story I mentioned above is one that I abandoned three years ago, and I picked it up again in February because I happened upon the barebones soundtrack I had started back then.
Wow. I don’t know how you find the time to manage all of these aspects of your writing. You’re very thorough in the process, Sage. If you could choose any setting to travel to in order to work on your next novel, where would that be, and why?
Okay, but seriously, that’s really hard because there are so many places I’ve never been that I’d like to go. However, as a writing vacation, sometimes the more exciting places are not the best to travel to. I took a cruise to Hawaii a couple of years ago, fully intending to work on novel revisions during my downtime, and I didn’t do a thing because I was always running to one activity or another or sight-seeing.
I’d say that the cabin in the Hocking Hills that I went to last August was absolutely perfect for writing. There was no internet, it had a pretty view, and I got tons done there (I wrote a middle grade novel in 3 days there, actually). I’ve written at Martha’s Vineyard and in a cabin at Pigeon Forge, but the Hocking Hills cabin was far more productive. And cheaper, too.
You’ve had some great experiences and some amazing views to enjoy for inspiration. The only place you mention that I’ve seen is Pigeon Forge, and it is beautiful, but I wasn’t there for the muse.
If you were given the opportunity to be mentored by any author, past or present, whom would you choose? And again, please tell us why?
Does it have to be a novel writer? I’d love to be mentored by Joss Whedon. Yeah, I don’t think it’s a big secret that I am a huge Buffy, the Vampire Slayer (Angel, Firefly, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-long Blog) fan, and if it is, well, there, I’ve outted myself. But I’m aware that novel writing and screenwriting are two totally different skills.
I do have a lot of great mentors and crit partners within a group of YA writers I met online five years ago, and we’ve been each other’s sounding boards, betas, and support group ever since. So within my genre it’s really hard to choose someone else that I would look to for that role.
Do you feel that the ebook industry is becoming stronger in the genres most read by young people? Are there ample opportunities to market your book and to reach your intended audience?
I’m not very good at marketing, but I think that for someone like me, who’s socially awkward and can’t sell a thing in person (I remember my days in the Girl Scouts), having an e-book means you can stick to e-marketing, which is really advantageous when you can barely hold a conversation.
I do think teens are starting to explore the e-book market. The YA market obviously hasn’t exploded yet like romance did, but teens love to get the newest technology, and it allows them to read whatever they want without any judgment from their peers or even adults. Yeah, my parents sometimes dismissed what I was reading as a teen too, and I totally worried that other teens were judging my choice in books. So if a guy wanted to pick up Love Sucks, but wouldn’t normally have wanted a book with “love” in the title and a heart on the cover, he can read it anywhere and not worry about what anybody thinks. If adults want to read YA, they don’t have to feel judged by others based on the cover or even by being in the YA section of a book store. I’m not marketing to guys or adults, but if they want to read my book, they’re free to do so ;)
Speaking of covers, I think yours is amazing. I’m glad you brought it along with you, because I wanted my readers to have the opportunity to see it, also.
So what can we expect to see next from Sage?
I’m hoping you’ll either see superheroes or androids from me. I’ve already told you a little about Taylor-Made, my WIP. I’m also querying a novel that’s told from the POV of both the superheroine and the supervillain, who are obsessively in love with each other. I adore both these novels, and I hope they get published, mostly because I want an excuse to write sequels!
Great! We’ll be on the look-out for them. Okay, last question Sage, and please bear with me. I know it’s a bit silly. If you had the choice of becoming a character in one of Dr. Seuss’s tales, who or what would you be, and why? Also, would you remain true to that character, or would you change him/it in some way?
I should probably say the Lorax, seeing how I work in an environmental lab. But I don’t think I’d want to be the Lorax. I think I would like to be Sam I Am. That guy could convince people of anything. He convinced someone to eat eggs and ham that were green. And every time the other guy gave him a no, he had a fresh new idea, and he never let it get him down. I’d want his confidence and persuasiveness for sure. Plus, querying my books would be so fun.
Would you read them in a house?
Would you read them with a mouse?
Would you read them in box?
Would you read them with a fox?
Would you, could you in a car?
Read them, read them! Here they are!
Ha! I love your sense of humor. I hope there’s a lot of it evident in Love Sucks, and I have a feeling there will be. Thank you so very much for sharing with us today, Sage. I wish you the absolute best of success with all of your books. Please tell everyone here where you can be found, and when and where they can purchase Love Sucks.
Love Sucks is available (starting today!) at Musa Publishing (you can link to: http://musapublishing.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=5&products_id=251) , Amazon, and Barnes and Noble’s website.
If you happen to have found me totally fascinating, you can read more of my ramblings at http://sagelikethespice.wordpress.com/ or on Twitter, where I’m @sagecollins. And I promise I will use fewer exclamation marks than I do in this interview, but I’m a little hyper today. *bounces* And I haven’t even had a Frappacino yet.
Lots of love,