Today Carolyn Meyer, author of the popular Young Royals series for teens drops by to tell readers all about her latest publishing venture!
GC: Is this your first non-historical fiction novel for teens?
CM: No, it's not; I did several before I got so focused on historical fiction. But let me tell you the story behind this. In the late 1980s I was asked to develop a series of four books, called Hotline, about four teens who start a peer counseling telephone line in their high school in response to the suicide of their friend, Lissa. It was a daunting task, because I had to come up with four distinct characters, each with a separate story line to run through the four books; each book was to deal with a specific issue. "Because of Lissa" was the first, published in 1990; the next three were published over 24 months: "The Problem with Sidney," "Gillian's Choice," and "The Two Faces of Adam." They were well received at the time, but then I went on to other projects and basically forgot about them.
GC: What made you decide to write a contemporary after such a long, vivid career centered around figures of the past?
CM: I have a number of writer friends who are interested in the e-book phenomenon, and one of them urged me to resurrect some of my early books and publish them myself exclusively as e-books, mostly as an experiment. My first thought was that I had a series here, and it should be fairly easy to convert them to e-books. Wrong! When I reread them after all these years, I found the characters and plots just as relevant as they were two decades ago. But the world has changed, and I've had to rewrite the books completely to bring them into the 21st century.
GC: What did you find most surprising about capturing the voice of these teens after spending so many years listening to the words of those of another age for inspiration?
CM: It's not so much their voices that are different but the way they communicate--think CELLPHONES! I was surprised that most the of the rewriting I've had to do relates to how the teens communicate and get their information.
GC: How did the idea for this novel first come about?
CM: Let me tell you about how I went about doing the research for the series. I signed up for six weeks of training with the local mental health center; then I volunteered for a few months waiting for the phone to ring and hoping I wouldn't get a problem I couldn't deal with (there was always a professional counselor in the next room in case that happened.) I also spent a lot of time at a high school with a very diverse student population drawn from all over the city. I must have used a computer to write the books, but of course those electronic files are long gone, so I've had to retype all four books from beginning to end.
GC: Why have you chosen to self-publish?
CM: I'm doing this is an experiment to see if I can reach a new audience. Think about it: the original readers of these books are now parents of teenagers! And here's an even neater part of the story: while I was working on the original Hotline books, my 13-year-old stepdaughter came to live with us. My own three sons were grown and gone, and here I was with this kind of bratty kid on my hands. The "bratty kid" grew up to become a graphics artist; she designed the striking new cover (here's the original; you can just make out the phone in the lower left corner.) And she also owns a small publishing company, with all the necessary skill and software to publish e-books. That "bratty kid" is now my publisher.
GC: What's next for you as an author?
CM: I'll be getting the rest of the series ready for publication at the rate of one a month this fall. VICTORIA REBELS will be published Jan 1, 2013. A book about the daughter of Helen of Troy, currently titled BEAUTY'S DAUGHTER, but that's still under discussion, to be published October 2013. And then I don't know what's coming.