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November 2, 2010

Flynn Meaney: Top 5 Scariest Aspects of Writing a Book

Posted by jordana
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Flynn Meaney's debut novel, BLOODTHIRSTY, offers a refreshing new take on those fearsome fanged foes everyone has been head over heels for these days. In celebration of NaNoWriMo and Halloween, Flynn tells Teenreads about her Top 5 Scariest Aspects of Writing a Book.

Just in time for Halloween, here are the things that scare me about writing books. Okay, some of them are more disappointing or humiliating than scary. But these things are all scary for a certain author of a book about a fake vampire who’s really a nerd.

1.     Rejection Letters

I keep all of my rejection letters. Since I began sending out stories and poems when I was fourteen, I have…quite a few. As in, so many that I had to invest in yet another large set of plastic drawers from The Container Store to hold them. I’ve had poems rejected. I’ve had essays rejected. I’ve had short stories rejected. But having a book rejected is the biggest disappointment of all. Although I wrote Bloodthirsty relatively quickly (in about a month), by the time I sent out the manuscript, I had lived with Finbar Frame in my head for thirty days, I had researched young adult vampire culture (and boy, is there a lot to explore in that department), and I hoped all that hadn’t been for nothing. Luckily, this time, it wasn’t. But I still keep those rejection letters—the vague ones (hurtful because I’m not sure the editors did more than skim my piece), the specific ones (hurtful because I have so many flaws to be pointed out), the remarkably encouraging ones. Hopefully, these letters will keep me humble and keep me hungry for more success and constant improvement.

2.  Reviews

Lately, I’ve developed a terrible habit: Googling myself. My high-speed wireless network is a totally mixed blessing when it comes to getting reader reactions to Bloodthirsty. Overall, readers have been incredibly supportive. My Facebook page allows readers to friend me, write on my wall, and send me messages about how much they love Finbar. Recently, a reader even asked to do a school report on me! How flattering! Of course, Google also gives me instant access to those thumbs-downs and less-than-loving reviews. Everyone has a right to their opinion, but I feel oddly protective of the fictional Finbar. I guessI should try to stick to online shopping.

3.     3. Friends and Family Finding Themselves (or trying to)

After reading Bloodthirsty, my mother’s first comment was:

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 “Phew. That mom was neurotic, but she wasn’t me.” My boyfriend’s family now teasingly calls him “Finbar” because he, like my protagonist, is tall, lanky, and pale (luckily, unlike Finbar, he’s not too pale to hang out at the beach with me). None of Bloodthirsty’s characters are based on, or even inspired by, real people. But I plan on being careful in the future how I depict parents, friends and teachers, lest I hurt anyone’s feelings!

4.     4. Reliving High School

Writing Finbar’s impressions of his new high school in Bloodthirsty really took me back. So why is that scary? Because they took me back to the days when I had to wake up at 6:15 am, study Physics, pass that damn President’s Physical Fitness Test, and call my dad to pick me up from the movies (in the minivan, with Delilah on the radio). I also recalled, and tried to evoke in my writing, the frustration and sense of isolation that can come with being an intelligent teenager who lacks confidence.

5.     5. Following Up

Writing a second book is definitely scary. First of all, there’s the whole “sophomore slump” concept, which is really encouraging. And, of course, there are the voices of all those critics ringing in my head. As I write my second novel, I’m keeping reader feedback from my first book in mind. A recurring theme in reviews was how racy Bloodthirsty was, which completely surprised me. I mean, it was narrated by a teenage boy! But I took those comments to heart, and I will be setting my second novel in a convent.

---Flynn Meaney