Welcome to Spotlight Week and welcome to our spotlighted author, Shaun David Hutchinson! I met Mr. Shaun through another awesome writer friend, Cole Gibsen, who nominated her agent buddy for our Blog Chain group. It has been a true pleasure getting to know this funny and insanely talented writer. If you haven't checked out his site yet, be sure to do so. There is a truly awesome set of photos and video of Shaun celebrating his book release. You've gotta go see :D
Now on to our interview!
MM: Your book, The Deathday Letter, was recently published. Congratulations!! Can you tell us a little about the book?
SDH: Thanks! The Deathday Letter is about a fifteen-year-old boy who gets a letter telling him he's got twenty-four hours to live. The story follows him through the entire day. There's humor and pizza and hippies and pudding and a little smooching.
MM: You celebrated your book release in a fun/crazy/unusual way – by jumping out of a plane!!! I know that was a first for you. Has anything else about you or your life changed now that your book is out?
SDH: Sadly, no. I mean, I've gotten to connect with some really amazing people, but I still go to my day job and hit the gym and try to think up ideas for more books. Okay, strike that. One thing has changed, but it changed around the time I was writing the book. I spend more time enjoying the little moments in life.
MM: I know as writers we often have all these expectations about how things will be once we reach that huge goal of publication. Did you have any expectations? Have they been realized or not?
SDH: Ahhhh, the dreaded expectations. I used to think I'd sell a book and life would be cake. I'd make enough money to live on comfortably and spend my days writing. The truth is less glamorous but still loads of fun. Writing is not the path to riches. If you want to be rich, go become a lawyer. But I have to say that it's the things I didn't expect that made all of this so worthwhile.
MM: What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
SDH: That people think I'm funny. I never considered myself funny. Now that people have read my book they're always like, "Say something funny," and all I can do is stare at my shoes and try not to drool.
MM: LOL I think you are much funnier than you give yourself credit for - have you read your blog?? :D Well, what about you? Who is Shaun David Hutchinson ? What do you love to do, besides writing?
SDH: I'm a total geek. A lazy geek. I'm really passionate about music. I always loved singing but I suck at it so I make due by listening to more music than I have a right to. I also love movies and TV. I'm a junkie for British television. Following up with the skydiving, my next step is to take the classes to get certified.
MM: Tell us a little about finding your agent and your road to publication
SDH: Finding Chris at Upstart Crow was an awesome experience. I admit to being really naive about the whole situation. I wrote Deathday in about six weeks. I was heading out on a trip to London and Paris and I decided I'd send out queries before I left. Most agents had a 3-6 week lead time so I thought I'd be safe. I hadn't even finished revising yet! I got my first response two hours after sending out my query. I got a lot of requests. Chris was a new agent then and his boss at the time handed my query to him. Chris emailed me while I was in London and we traded emails and phone calls back and forth. I was actually in a Starbucks in London when he made the offer. Of course I had to wait a little bit to talk to other agents, but Chris was (and is) such a great guy that I knew he was the agent for me. I've never regretted that decision.
As for publication, well we submitted to a bunch of houses after doing a couple rounds of revision. It was Anica Mrose Rissi over at Simon Pulse who said she had some really great ideas for this story if I was willing to do some major revisions. We talked and I knew she was the editor for me. I ended up rewriting about half of the book, but she helped me find the true focus of Ollie's story, and again, I've never regretted my decision.
MM: What was the hardest part of this journey for you? The easiest, or most fun?
SDH: The hardest part was definitely making the big changes. While I know now that they made my book a thousand times better, at the time they were a little hard to swallow. Luckily I had a great agent and amazing friends who helped me keep everything in perspective.
The easiest AND most fun has been connecting to readers and writers and bloggers. The book community is so vast but so welcoming. I'm not a social person by nature...I'm a bit of a recluse, but I've found great friends throughout all this.
MM: Quick 5:
Dark or milk chocolate? Dark chocolate, definitely!
Even numbers or odd? Hmmm. Odd.
Swimming pool or ocean? I live on the beach, so definitely ocean.
Movie theater or DVD? DVD.
Sandals – with or without socks? Wow, okay, well my high school self would have said with socks but I know better now. Definitely without.
Thanks so much, Shaun!
Don't forget to enter our contest, everyone! We will be giving away two copies of Shaun's book, The Deathday Letter, with the added awesomeness of Shaun's shiny new autograph! All you have to do is leave a comment :D
For more information on Shaun and to order a copy of his book, see the links below.
The Deathday Letter Site
Shaun's Site and Blog
Shaun on Twitter
Barnes and Noble
Simon and Schuster