Wednesday, March 21, 2007

What's Fresh with Maryrose Wood's Why I Let My Hair Grow Out

Being sent to your room is one thing. But being sent to another country?

Morgan's boyfriend dumped her on the last day of school-it seemed the only thing to do was to hack off her hair and dye the stubble orange. Unfortunately, Morgan's parents freaked and decided a change of scenery would do her good. So they're sending her off on a bike tour of Ireland.

But Morgan gets more than she bargained for on the Emerald Isle-including a strange journey into some crazy, once upon a time corner of the past. There, she meets fairies, weefolk, and a hunky warrior-dude named Fergus, and figures out that she's got some growing to do-and she doesn't just mean her hair.

Hello Maryrose, so cool of you to chat! Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale?

Maryrose: My first book, SEX KITTENS AND HORN DAWGS FALL IN LOVE (2006) was sold to Delacorte on a proposal. I learned later that this was not the most typical way to get a first book published, but I'd been writing plays and screenplays and musicals for more than a decade before deciding to write a novel, so I had some street cred as a writer, as well as the moxie that comes from not realizing how long the odds were!

In brief, I was introduced to an agent by a fellow writer who knew my work for the theatre (these included projects with teen protagonists, so it was relevant in that sense also). I pitched the idea to the agent, who liked it and asked for a proposal. I wrote one, sent it to her, she gave me some comments on it, I revised, and within about six weeks she'd interested Delacorte. They too had questions, so I expanded the proposal a bit more and they bought it. I turned in a finished first draft of the book six months later. And then the real work started!

Readers and writers often like to get a behind the scenes peek of an author's writing routine. It would be great if you could please share your typical writing day schedule.

Maryrose: I have two kids, so during the week I usually get them to school by 8:10 and then come home and putz about a little or go to the gym first and then come home. Either way, the dog gets walked, the coffee gets made, the cereal is consumed and I try to be at the desk by 9:30 or so. Then for the next few hours I'll sit and write, but I'll also do all kinds of things that look not one bit like writing - walk around, fold laundry while talking to myself, lie down and take a nap (naps are an essential writing tool). It all contributes. Last week I got a big plot thing solved while on the treadmill at the gym.

This is a typical first-draft kind of day. First drafts require a lot of noodling and wandering about. A revising day is much more organized, with me at the desk and piles of scribbled-on manuscript pages moving from the left side my desk to the right as I go through and make changes.

A big chunk of every day is spent dealing with emails about the business end of things, miscellaneous promotional stuff, posting to my blog or answering reader mail. I usually try to save some of those tasks for after dinner, if I can grab another hour at the computer while my kids do homework.

Often when I'm near the end of a book I'll try to schedule a few days to just blitz through and work like a nut for ten hours at a pop. When I'm trying to hold the whole book in my head and wrap everything up at the end I find it very helpful to have some intensely focused work time. These are not days when it would be wise to drop by unannounced. The crazed, ill-kempt, pajama-clad woman who answered the door would be unlikely to invite you in. She might bite, in fact.

LOL! I know the feeling, Maryrose! Please tell us about your latest novel, WHY I LET MY HAIR GROW OUT and what we can expect from your characters.

Maryrose: WHY I LET MY HAIR GROW OUT was just released in March '07 as paperback original from Berkley Jam. It's the story of Morgan, a 16 year old girl from Connecticut who chops off all her hair in a fit of heartbreak after her boyfriend dumps her on the last day of school (I swear, Britney Spears did not get the idea from me!). Anyway, Morgan's parents decide some distraction is in order, so they send her on a bike tour across Ireland.

Soon enough she's hating the bike tour, hating her tourmates, but secretly liking the adorable Colin, the cheerful Irish guy who drives the luggage van. Then a most unusual accident sends her flying head-over-handlebars into a magical, long-ago corner of the past, complete with faeries, enchantments, and a hunky warrior-dude named Fergus. He really knows how to treat a girl who's part goddess - and guess who that turns out to be?

All this slipping around in time gives Morgan a crash course in the world of Irish lore and the complexities of conducting a trans-millennial romance. She also learns a thing or two about faeries, merrows, leprechauns, things you can and cannot do in a long flowy princess dress, and the basic rules of hurling.

Wow, sounds really fantastic! What's up next? Do you have another project in the works? If so, please tell us about it.

Maryrose: At the moment I'm having a ball writing the sequel to WHY I LET MY HAIR GROW OUT, which will be released in '08. Morgan comes back to Connecticut, believing that she's left the Faery Folk and her hunky pal Colin behind for good in Ireland. Wrong on both counts! My goal for this book is to continue Morgan's magical and romantic adventures while providing a definitive answer to the age-old question: Why are there no female leprechauns?

And my next book to be released is about a subject very near and dear to my heart - Broadway! It's called MY LIFE: THE MUSICAL, and it's about Emily and Philip, two theatre-obsessed teens who are also best friends. When rumors start to swirl that their favorite show might close, they go to all kinds hilarious lengths to see it one last time. Along they way they solve Broadway's biggest mystery and learn something profound about their friendship too. It's a real romp, and the best part was I got to make up a fictional Broadway musical for the kids to be obsessed with. It's a March '08 release from Delacorte.

Looking forward to your novels, Maryrose. Thank you again for sharing with us. Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Maryrose: Writing is not just about thinking of lovely words. It's about envisioning warm-blooded, complex people who have extraordinary experiences and are often transformed by them. Spend more time digging compassionately into yourself and others to enlarge your understanding of human beings and the world, and less time rewriting the same poetic description of the gloomy weather a hundred times. You can always add weather later.

Maryrose Wood grew up on Long Island and moved to New York City at age 17. She's lived in one borough or another ever since. She dropped out of NYU to be in a Broadway musical, and spent ten lean but action-packed years performing, directing, and doing comedy improv before the writing light bulb went off over her head. But it was still another ten years of writing plays, musicals and screenplays before she tried her hand at teen fiction.

Her first novel, SEX KITTENS AND HORN DAWGS FALL IN LOVE, was hailed as “an uproariously funny debut” (Booklist), “irresistible” (Cleveland Plain Dealer), and “an effervescent delight” (Common Sense Media). Please visit her at

6 fresh comments:

Alex Richards said...

Great interview! I've been wanting to read her 1st book, and now I think I'll pick this one up as well.
ps-i LOVE the cover art to death!

TinaFerraro said...

I'm with Alex on the cover art! Fabulous. I'm the mother of teenagers, and often leave YA books on the coffee table to see what my kids and their friends pick up. I guarantee this one will generate action!

The storyline sounds very interesting, too...can't wait to read the book!

Kelly Parra said...

Alex, I loooove the cover too! :) ;)
I agree, Tina, the story sounds fab, too!!

stephhale said...

Great interview! I've been wanting to pick up this book and I didn't even realize that Maryrose was a Berkley Jam sister~


Kelly Parra said...

Thanks, Steph! Yeah, it's hard to keep track of authors and their pub houses. haha!

Maryrose Wood said...

ooo, Steph! The Berkley Jam Sisters! I think we should start a band.

Thanks, everyone, for all the enthusiasm. I feel so lucky about that cover, it's both gorgeous and perfect for the book.

Have a great weekend!