YA Writer Wednesdays is excited to welcome ERIC DEVINE, author of TAP OUT, a YA title releasing September 1, 2012 from Running Press! Comment below to win a free signed copy of TAP OUT! I'll draw the winner at random on Tuesday, August 7!
Welcome, Eric! What's your book about? Tap Out is the story of Tony Antioch’s struggle to get out of the horrendous environment in which he’s been raised--abusive father; drugged out mother; subsequent abusive boyfriends; harsh poverty; the pull of the local meth-slinging biker gang. He keeps his head low and his act clean, praying that his Vo-Tec training will someday provide employment and possibly a way out, and that his mother will stay clean long enough for him to do so. But, Cameron, his mother’s latest boyfriend, has different ideas. The only bright spot in Tony’s life is his friend Rob, who convinces Tony to join the local Mixed Martial Arts gym in order to protect himself from Cameron. Tony finds refuge within the walls of the gym, but they are not strong enough to keep the weight of his world out. With pressure from Cameron, the gang, and a downward spiral of his own dire circumstances, Tony has choices to make. Each comes with a consequence he doesn’t want to live with, but has to.
When is your book coming out? September 1, 2012.
Who's your publisher? Tell us your story-- how'd you come to be a published author? Running Press, an imprint of Perseus Publishing Group, is releasing Tap Out. This is my first major release, but I have another novel and a handful of short stories out there. I followed the traditional advice in order to become published: Write what you know. I did, non-stop, for years. Then I joined a critique group and got serious about my writing. I found and lost two agents, but the third time was the charm. Kate McKean offered impeccable advice and I followed every word. I continued to write and to listen to my students (I teach HS English) and incorporate their struggles. I hit on the concept for Tap Out, wrote a few chapters and knew it had legs. I ran the concept by Kate. She again offered her advice and I got to work. A little over a year later Kate sealed a deal with Running Press and editor Lisa Cheng.
Do you write from an outline or are you a "pantser"? Both. I outline but deviate as needed and then outline again, deviate and on and on. I write before work, early in the morning, so I need a concrete structure to return to each day. It helps to have a sense of where I want to go, but an ability to let go of that direction if something else just feels more appropriate.
Are you a full-time writer or do you have a "day job"? What do you do in your "day job"? I work full-time as a high school English teacher, part time as a personal trainer, per diem as an educational consultant and I write. However, I think about writing all the time. My stories are with me always and I will often write notes while teaching and training. My mind is always turning over my work. And I feel fortunate to be with high schoolers every day. I teach freshman through seniors and get to witness the development of my students, their conflicts with friends, school, identity, societal pressure. I live in their world and then translate it onto the page.
Why YA as opposed to some other genre? I have yet to fully grow up. I am intrigued by adolescence, how it’s morphed since I was a teen, and yet how so much has remained constant. Even though I am an adult--am married, have two daughters own my home--I have yet to let go of my teen self. I am not him, but I can remember vividly so much of my own trials that to not use them as fodder would be a waste of insight. I also write YA to better understand my students, to be able to relate to them on a more personal level, because education is not solely about tests and data, it is very much about the individual, and his or her dignity. And I hope I can continue to write YA so that I will be better prepared for when my daughters are teens.
Who's your agent? Take this opportunity to brag on him/her if you'd like!
Kate McKean is brilliant, witty, and all-around amazing. She and the Howard Morhaim Literary Agency took a chance on me. I had little to no credentials and a manuscript that needed work, yet Kate saw something and chose to guide me. And that is exactly why a writer needs a fabulous agent like Kate. I write a mess of a story, clean it up and then let her have at it. She nudges me about how to make it more than I saw it could be. She has an uncanny ability to sense potential and to provide careful nudging and encouragement. I couldn’t ask for more.