Sassy's Fangirl Authors - Guest Post with Louise Gornall on the Publishing Process of YA Debut

Welcome to Sassy's Fangirl Authors, a feature event where I introduce you to upcoming books as well as already published books! Make sure to add this unique contemporary novel to your TBR list, because you definitely don't want to miss out on it! 

This week of Sassy’s Fangirl Authors, we are having the wonderful and absolutely delightful Louise Gornall, YA debut author of UNDER ROSE-TAINTED SKIES, a gorgeous contemporary which releases on January 3rd, 2017!

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Title: Under Rose-Tainted Skies
Author: Louise Gornall
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mental Health
Release Date: January 3rd, 2017
Publisher:  Clarion Books
Norah has agoraphobia and OCD. When groceries are left on the porch, she can’t step out to get them. Struggling to snag the bags with a stick, she meets Luke. He’s sweet and funny, and he just caught her fishing for groceries. Because of course he did. Norah can’t leave the house, but can she let someone in? As their friendship grows deeper, Norah realizes Luke deserves a normal girl. One who can lie on the front lawn and look up at the stars. One who isn’t so screwed up.

Hey guys,

My name is Louise Gornall, and I wrote a YA book called Under Rose-Tainted Skies. Rose (for short) is about a girl called Norah, and she's fighting this crippling battle with agoraphobia, depression, and OCD. But Norah is comfortable living this safe, stagnant life, until a new boy moves in next door.

Secret? Norah and I share the same mental illnesses. In fact, a lot of what you read in Rose comes straight from my been-there-done-that archives. I'm here today because the awesome Talina asked me if I'd share some of my publishing experience. So, I thought I'd tell you what it was like to put my strange/quirky/odd/crazy life in front of an editor, who didn't know me or my illnesses.

I'm 98.9% sure most writers will tell you that anxiety is a side effect of this industry. It truly is. There's a lot of waiting. A lot of discussions that you're not a part of. And, because there are a ton of people in-house who have to work on your manuscript, a lot of eyes reading your story before it's even been acquired.

Rose took three months to write, and I'm not too proud to admit that I seriously underestimated how emotionally jarring writing it would be. There were moments when I changed my mind entirely about content. There were days in which I needed my family to mop me up off the floor, hold my hand, and paste back in pivotal scenes I had previously deleted. My sister even had to hit 'send' when it was ready to email to my agent. (She has to do that a lot). Right now I'm wondering if you guys think I sound a little *too* dramatic. The thing is, the odd behaviours, the unexplainable ideas and morbid stream of thought that I'd poured into Norah, were a huge part of my reality, a reality that had been a well kept secret among my nearest and dearest for 10 years. I barely understood Me, so what right did I have to expect other people too understand Me? To understand Norah and how she lived her life? 

(Of course, there is a story here, about two people in particular who helped me realise it was okay to talk about this stuff, but time is short so we'll have to save that one for another day.) Let's cut to the part where I'm already out on submission, luck smiles on me, and I land editor extraordinaire, Anne Hoppe at HMH/Clarion. 

The opening line of Anne's "offer" email was:

I am Norah!

Closely followed by a brief explanation of how Anne didn't suffer from mental illness, but there was something about Norah that she had connected with so completely, and that she believed other people would find that connection too. 

You guys, I can't even begin to explain to you how amazing that felt to read. It was an exhale. A long exhale of this crazy amount of air, I didn't even know my lungs were capable of containing. Everything in me went limp, and this weird, fuzzy kind of contemplation settled over me. See, I'd done a super successful job of convincing myself I was abnormal, and yet, here was this woman, who didn't owe me anything, who wasn't living in a bubble, telling me that people would connect with Norah, wether they shared her struggles or not.

I'm not going to go on for much longer, but I did just want to give you a quick insight into how we edited Rose, and, honestly? Blow some sunshine off Anne's butt!

Rose wasn't what you might call "technically sound" in the realms of storytelling. At least, it wasn't at first. Enter Super Editor. Obvs I can't go into too much detail without giving stuff away (though I REALLY want to).  I will say that Norah's social schedule is *wide open*, which made it kind of hard to establish a routine and give her story a solid structure. Alas, stories need that structure so a reader can follow what's going on. It's easy to get lost in a landscape when everything looks the same, right? Thankfully, Anne was very conscious of accurate representation when we were figuring out how to make this happen. That is, she wasn't prepared to compromise Norah's character or her capabilities by littering her landscape with unnecessary plot elements. Did I mention that Anne is amazing? Norah's life is neatly contained, that's an important part of this story, so we ended up building structure within her confinements. It was interesting, entertaining, and at times, hella frustrating, but so worth it. 

Ugh. Okay. I don't really want to go, but I guess I should wrap this up. For me, Rose began as a therapy session, that turned into a love affair. I really do love this story, and I really hope that if you get the chance to read Rose, you'll love it too.

Chat soon,

I’m a graduate of Garstang Community Academy, currently studying for a BA (Hons) in English language and literature with special emphasis on creative writing. YA aficionado. Brit bird. Film nerd. Identical twin. Junk food enthusiast. Rumored pink Power Ranger, and avid collector of book boyfriends.


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