Thursday, February 17, 2011

Interview with Antony John part 2

On Monday I posted the first part of an interview with John Antony, the author of Five Flavors of Dumb, which is possibly my new favorite book.  You can read my review of the  book here.

The rest of the interview is about publishing and his life.  Enjoy.

On Publishing
1) Once you got your agent who long did it take to see the book on the shelf?

I got my agent in June 2007 (I think), and BUSTED came out October 2008. That's a pretty quick
turnaround, though. FIVE FLAVORS OF DUMB sold in September 2008, and didn't come out until
November 2010!

2) What's the best part about being a published author?
Most authors I know take their writing very seriously, whether or not they're published. To me, the
best thing about being a published author is that, even though I may not have changed at all,
other people's attitudes toward me have changed. Instead of feeling as though I have to justify an
hour spent writing, it's understood that I need that time. I suspect that this, as much as the lure of
being published, is what unpublished writers want: to be able to write without guilt!

3) What's the hardest part about being a published author?

Finding time to balance writing and publicity. Because I'm a stay-at-home dad, I only have two hours
each morning to write. But when DUMB came out -- and started getting good reviews -- I discovered
I needed more than two hours a day just to respond to emails, interviews, and requests for school
visits. Not that I'm complaining -- I'm committed to doing free school visits as often as my schedule
will allow; but when I do, I effectively lose a day of writing.

I've discovered that the solution is to save the morning for writing, and deal with everything else
once the kids have gone to bed.

Again, though, this is a really nice problem to have, right?

 4) What was the best moment throughout this whole process?  Was it winning  the Schneider Family Book Award.

Yes and no. Pre-publication, I'd say the best moment was when I completed the first draft and
handed it to my wife; I just knew, deep down, that this was a good story, and I was really proud of it.

Post-publication, the Schneider Award was an incredible (and wonderful) surprise. I was so worried
about misrepresenting deafness, and to be told I got it right means so much.

On life:
1) As a stay at home dad, how difficult is it to find time to write?

As I say, I get two hours every morning to write. It's not as much as I'd like, but it does keep me
focused and motivated, which is a good thing. I have a pipe dream that when I'm writing full-time
(my son is in kindergarten, and my daughter will be starting in 2012) I'll suddenly crank out four
novels a year, but that's almost certainly unrealistic. My most productive working time is the
morning, and by lunchtime, I'm practically useless. Seriously. Just ask my daughter.

Incidentally, I adore being a stay-at-home dad as much as I adore writing, so there's no trade-off


2) Being a parent, which TV show or movie have you seen over 50 times?

Actually, we don't have the TV on during the week usually. But I'm pretty sure my kids have seen
"Mary Poppins" and "Horton Hears a Who" at least four times each. Which, of course, means that I've
seen them that often too!

3) Which authors writing today makes you geek out in a fan tizzy?
(Translation, who is your favorite author writing today)

I am a huge fan of so many authors today, but if I had to pick one, I'd go with Meg Rosoff. I was
completely blown away by her first novel, HOW I LIVE NOW, and every novel since then has been
extraordinary. One of the things I find so impressive about her writing is how lean it is: there are no
wasted words, or extraneous scenes. Every chapter contributes narratively and enables the characters
to grow. If I could write half as well as her, I'd probably frame one of my many awards and go into
early retirement.

4) If you could offer one piece of advice my readers, what would it be?

Because I've followed the rules so well so far, I'm going to break them now and offer TWO pieces of

1. It seems to be a recurring theme these days, but
ENJOY THE PROCESS. We all have goals, and I
think goals are vital, but if the long-term plan is to have a career as a writer, you really need to be
able to enjoy writing day-to-day. If you're lucky, you'll have one book come out each year, and on
that day you'll celebrate, but on the next you'll get straight back to work. You need to be able to
derive satisfaction from both of those days.

2. Writing is all about empathy, so don't forget to empathize professionally as well. When you query

agents, try to put yourself in their place. Same with editors. I'm sure that when I started querying
agents I was too caught up in myself and my novel to realize that, at heart, agents are people who
LOVE NOVELS. It's really that simple. If you can write a great story and convince them to read it, great things might happen
I want to thank Antony for this interview- it's basically the best piece of blog content I've put out in a while (and I didn't even have to do much)  

Leave a comment below saying you would like to win the book.  You get an extra entry if you become a fan of Antony John on his Facebook page.   Contest ends 2-21-11
Please check out his webpage


  1. Awesome interview, Erinn! Such an inspiring story! :)

  2. Thanks for welcoming me along to your blog, Erinn. And thanks to everyone who commented as well!

  3. Thanks Antony and Erinn! I love how this interview gives me a glimpse into the day of a writer and how decisions to do some things mean sacrificing others. Lots of great things come with being published, but I'm sure you have to be great at time management (which I'm sure Antony has plenty of practice at being a stay-at-home dad--I'm a stay-at-home mom and there's always something I need to get done...).

  4. Love this Erinn, thanks for sharing Antony!

  5. loved the interview. antony sounds awesome, and i cant wait to read his book--iv got in on my TBR pile :)

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  7. Wonderful interview, Erinn and Antony! I really like his second bit of advice about agents being people who really LOVE novels.

    Thanks for this!

  8. AWESOME interview!! Cannot wait to read this book :D Thanks for the contest!!

  9. wow. I LOVE the questions you asked! it was so effortless to read :)

    LOVED the parent questions. Oh, the whole kids re-watching movies thing. WOW. It's incredible how they can watch the same thing over and over over over, isn't it?

    And I ADORE How I LIVE Now. Such a beautiful book. Which they're making into a movie ~ somehow I just can;t picture it...

    Have a birllinat weekend!

    xo Nomes

  10. Great interview! I love the advice about enjoying the process. So needed right now. :)

    And I'd love to win his book!