Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Author Interview: Aidan Donnelley Rowley

I wonder how many books are released on any given day? I don't know but I'm guessing lots, and most of them pass me by. However, I do know of one which is hitting the shelves today - Aidan Donnelley Rowley's debut novel Life After Yes.

I got to know Aidan through her fantastic blog over at Ivy League Insecurities, where she writes about her life as a writer and as a mother to two adorable girls. She's a witty writer with a unique blogging style, so I'm excited to see how she tackles fiction. And because she's also thoroughly lovely, Aidan has sent me an advance copy of her book - the first time I've had a book in my hands before it's even officially published!

I know that many of my readers are also writers themselves, so I thought this would be a great opportunity to ask Aidan a few questions about her experiences of the writing and publishing process. I wish we'd been able to sit down over coffee and conduct a proper interview, but as she lives in Manhattan and I live in England, it wasn't to be this time. Nevertheless, the marvels of modern technology allow me to introduce you to Aidan as her first novel is released.

Hi Aidan, welcome to my blog. Not everyone will be familiar with the premise of Life After Yes (though I recommend my readers to go and read about it), so can you give us a feel for the book in 10 words?

A modern tale of life, love, and loss in chaos.

You describe this as your first novel, but is it the first book you started to write, or do you have some uncompleted drafts knocking around?

Life After Yes is indeed the first book I set out to write. I started it immediately after leaving my job at the law firm and took my time with it. During the writing and editing process, I enrolled in many online writing courses that proved immensely helpful. I also welcomed my two young daughters and lost my father during this period, so there were many stretches of time when writing couldn’t be my first priority.

I'm impressed - you're so much more focused than I am! At what point whilst writing Life After Yes did you realise that yes, actually, this book was going to get finished and be publishable?

I always knew that I would finish Life After Yes because I believed in the story and wanted to see it to completion – whether it would end up on my own bookshelves or those of bookstores. The question of publication is a different matter entirely. It was not until I got the call from my agent saying that we had an offer from a great editor that I began to believe. Holding my own book in my own hands made me realize that this is happening. Frankly – and I write these words three days before pub day – this is really just now becoming real to me.

Speaking of publication, how did you get your publishing deal? How many rejection slips did you collect along the way?

Once I had a very polished draft of Life After Yes, I began researching agents. I read listings online and in books. I literally told everyone I encountered that I was looking to publish my novel. Just talking to people unearthed helpful advice. I spent time crafting a good query letter. I followed up on each and every lead, however tenuous, sent blind and non-blind queries and received probably ten or so rejections. Ultimately, I found my agent through a recommendation from my father’s college buddy’s law partner’s wife. (Hard to follow, I know!) After I signed with my agent, we worked for a few months to edit my manuscript. My agent started reaching out to publishers in November and I was thrilled to have a publishing deal before Christmas. I feel very lucky that this all happened relatively fast as far as these things go.

It's an utterly cliched question, but I have to ask it: you and your main character are both young lawyers who change direction. Are there elements of autobiography in the novel?

There are certainly bits and pieces of me scattered throughout Life After Yes, but I am not the protagonist and the story isn’t autobiographical. Ultimately, I chose to write about a lawyer because I had spent some time at a law firm and the world of Manhattan corporate law was one I felt I could describe vividly, but the truth is that the main character could have been a banker or consultant or any other type of professional and it wouldn’t have affected the arc or essence of the story. I also felt strongly about exploring how the tragedy of 9/11 forced so many of us to wake up and confront impossible existential questions about life and love, career and commitment.

Your book should be on the shelves by the time I publish this interview, so what comes next? Any works in progress?

Indeed there are many works in progress… The two I’m most proud of are my sweet little girls. Once the publication mayhem subsides, I hope to spend tons of time with them, soaking up the sun and their silly smiles. There is also my blog Ivy League Insecurities, a place through which I’ve had the privilege of connecting with wonderful writers and people like you Rachel. I hope ILI continues to grow and evolve. Finally, I am working on my next two novels. (Out of indecision rather than any belief in simultaneous drafting!) More recently, I have been bombarded with questions about whether or not there will be a sequel to Life After Yes and it certainly has me thinking… Never say never!

Thanks so much, Rachel, for giving me this opportunity to answer your thoughtful questions and talk a bit about my rookie novel Life After Yes. I am a big fan of your blog and your writing, so I am thrilled to be here today.

Thank you, Aidan. And thanks again for the book - I've only just started to read it, but I'm enjoying it so far. I hope you squeeze every ounce of excitement from this super-special day.


Writing Without Periods! said...

Great interview. I hope I can find the book because I'd like to read it.

Ronnica said...

I've recently gotten to know Aidan through her blog as well and wish her the best in her release!

Trulyana said...

That's a wonderful interview. I love finding out about new writers, and it's always so good to hear about new experiences. This interview does it justice.
Thank you for sharing this wonderful lady with us.

Kita said...

Thanks for your comment on http://silhouettegraphic.blogspot.com :) I <3 working at a comic book store!

Anonymous said...

Great interview! I am adding Life After Yes to my list of to-reads!

Emma said...

Aidan's book sounds great....sure I'll be buying a copy. Fab interview too!

The Blonde Duck said...

I usually stick to YA and children books, but this looks really good!

Chad Zahara said...

Having a novel published is a dream I will one day fulfill, so I can only imagine how happy she is. ^_^

Joey @ Big Teeth and Clouds said...

One of these days I hope to be inspired enough by these published offers to finish my own novel.

For now I'm just jealous!

I really enjoyed this interview - I love to hear a bit about how books come to be.

Mama Hen said...

What a great post! Now I want to get to Barnes and Noble and buy it! I used to travel a lot myself. I have lived in Spain, Mexico and Germany. Thanks for commenting on Mama's Little Chick!! See you in the Hen House!!

Mama Hen

Mama Hen said...

Me again Rachel!! Come visit Mama's Little Chick for an award I gave you (Wednesday's post)! You deserve it!!

Mama Hen

Heather @ Gerber Days said...

Great interview. This book sounds really amazing, and I love the cover! Drew me right in.

ScoMan said...

Congrats to Aidan on getting her book published.

And this was a great interview. The questions were interesting and the answers detailed.

I have a friend who's a bit of a writer, I might send her over here for inspiration.

smilla4blogs said...

Wonderful post of your interview...and now I must run off to buy the book!

Kristen @ Motherese said...

Thank you, Rachel, for these thoughtful questions. I am also a big fan of Aidan's and of Ivy League Insecurities and I enjoyed getting to learn more about her and her writing process through your excellent interview. Nice to "meet" you here. I hope you enjoy Aidan's novel as much as I did!


Deirdre said...

Wonderful interview. The book sounds interesting. :)

Kel said...

Great interview Rachel. Thanks for sharing Aidan with us. I'm going to grab a copy from Borders this weekend.

Kazzy said...

This is the second blog today that I have read concerning Aidan. I am just going to have to read that book!

I'm a full-time mummy said...

Hi Rachel!

Greetings from Malaysia again! Just want to say thank you for dropping by my blog on my SITS day. You can read the aftermath of my whole day SITting episode at this link:

Thank you again and hope to see you back here sometime! :D

Warmest Regards,
Jenny aka I'm a full-time mummy

A Cuban In London said...

I loved the interview and the author's honesty. I was struck by the ten words she used to describe her novel and the period during which she wrote it. It was also a period of love and loss. It's always interesting to see how literature can capture those small moments of our lives without meaning to.

Many thanks.

Greetings from London.

Velva said...

Great interview. I hope you enjoy the book.

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