Between The Lines is a sporadic feature on Pop! Goes The Reader in which authors and other industry professionals provide further insight into the writing and publishing process in the form of interviews, guest posts, etc. So, sit back, relax, and enjoy as we read between the lines.
About Alison Cherry
I grew up in Evanston, IL, then went to Harvard and got a degree in photography. (Yes, that is possible. Although they like to call the visual arts “Visual and Environmental Studies,” for some unknown reason.) Then I spent the next three years as a freelance lighting designer for various theaters throughout the Northeast. Eventually, I got tired of hanging out on ladders and wrestling with faulty electrical equipment for 80 hours a week while getting paid almost nothing, so I spent the next four years working as a photographer for the Metropolitan Opera. Now I live in Brooklyn with my two kitties, Vivian and Sophia, and write full-time. I’m represented by Holly Root at Root Literary.
About Lindsay Ribar
Lindsay Ribar lives in New York City, where she works in book publishing by day and writes YA novels by night. She attends far too many concerts, watches far too much nerdy TV, and consumes fanfiction like it’s made out of chocolate. She is fond of wine, cheese, and countries where they speak English but with really cool accents. Oh, and she has a Harry Potter tattoo.
About Michelle Schusterman
Michelle Schusterman is the alleged author of less than one hundred books for kids and teens, most of which are not published under a secret pseudonym, and all of which include various characters. She lives on a steamboat with her pet crawfish, unless she’s lying, in which case she lives among the spiders beneath the stage at the Metropolitan Opera, unless that’s another lie, in which case she lives in an apartment in Queens with her chocolate lab, who can talk.
The Pros and Cons of Writing The Pros of Cons (With Two Other People)
PRO: Sometimes you wake up in the morning and your book is magically six thousand words longer than it was when you went to sleep.
Let’s be honest: what writer hasn’t torn at her hair and wailed, “Why can’t my book just magically write itself??” When you write with co-authors, IT DOES. The three of us had a meeting before each block of three chapters to make sure we were on the same page about where the story was going, but then we parted ways to write our own chapters on our own schedules…and that meant new words could appear at any time. It was always so exciting to wake up and discover that our characters had been accomplishing things and having fights and falling in love in my absence.
CON: Those six thousand magical new words? Those are words you don’t get to use to advance your character’s arc.
I tend to write very long — even when I’m writing middle grade, I’ve never managed to tell a story in fewer than fifty thousand words. But for this book, two other characters needed space to feel things and have experiences and learn about themselves, so I only had about 25K to give Callie a complete arc. In the end, this probably turned out to be a pro — I was forced to learn to be economical and not describe every single feeling six different ways. But during the writing process, it was often hard to figure out how I was going to fit in everything I wanted to say and still produce a book that wasn’t too heavy to hold.
PRO: It’s so much easier to figure out what your plot is when you’re writing with two other people!
Listen, there are a lot of things that, as a writer, I think that I’m good at. But plotting isn’t one of them. My first drafts are usually just a bunch of characters feeling a lot of feelings, with enough “hey, look at this premise I have!” thrown in that I can trick myself into thinking there’s a plot. But there usually actually isn’t. So all of my revisions tend to be, like, putting a plot in after the fact. Sometimes this just involves heightening what’s already there; sometimes it involves ripping out entire chunks of the book and putting new chunks in. This time, though! This time! I got to work with Alison and Michelle, who are both outliners and very good at plotting. They taught me their ways! It was pretty great!
CON: I HAD TO OUTLINE, AAAAHHHH.
Alison and Michelle sure did teach me their ways, but that meant I had to learn the thing, and then, you know, do the thing. It wasn’t horribly excruciating or anything — like, they didn’t have to drag me kicking and screaming to that café in Brooklyn all the time — but it was still hard, and it still doesn’t come naturally to me. I’m pretty glad I learned how to do it, though, especially since the three of us definitely want to write together again in the future!
PRO: Celebrating and commiserating with friends who are just as invested as you are, because it’s their book, too.
And I don’t just mean rejections and offers (although it was GREAT to share those experiences with coauthors!) We wrote about half a draft of this book a few years ago, then ended up putting it on hold for a while when we all got busy with other deadlines. We were super excited to pick it back up again — but time (and sage advice from our agents and early readers) had made us aware of some serious flaws. Then, once we had a complete draft, we got some excellent-but-EXTENSIVE feedback from beta readers. The kind of notes that make you go…”Oh. Dang.” It can be hard to dive back in in that situation when you’re writing solo. For me, being able to whine and groan with my coauthors, then brainstorm changes and encourage each other through the revision process, was a huge benefit.
CON: I was FORCED to write a kissing scene.
Okay, I don’t consider this a con anymore. But I did at the time! This is my first YA novel, and while a few of my MG books have kissing, that’s just a very different world. I fully intended for that scene with Phoebe and Scott to be like…a paragraph or two. Then I realized that kissing scenes aren’t all romance novel swooning. They can be awkward. Hilarious. Even — as Publisher’s Weekly said in our starred review — slapstick. Now that chapter is one of my favorites in the whole book. But man, I sure did drag my feet on writing it!
Title The Pros of Cons
Author Alison Cherry, Lindsay Ribar and Michelle Schusterman
Pages 352 Pages
Intended Target Audience Young Adult
Genre & Keywords Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Publication Date March 27th 2018 by Scholastic
Find It On Goodreads ● Amazon.com ● Chapters ● The Book Depository
Drummer Phoebe Byrd prides herself on being one of the guys, and she’s ready to prove it by kicking all their butts in the snare solo competition at the Indoor Percussion Association Convention.
Writer Vanessa Montoya-O’Callaghan has been looking forward to the WTFcon for months. Not just because of the panels and fanfiction readings but because WTFcon is where she’ll finally meet Soleil, her internet girlfriend, for the first time.
Taxidermy assistant Callie Buchannan might be good at scooping brains out of deer skulls, but that doesn’t mean it’s her passion. Since her parents’ divorce, her taxidermist father only cares about his work, and assisting him at the World Taxidermy and Fish-Carving Championships is the only way Callie knows to connect with him.
When a crazy mix-up in the hotel lobby brings the three girls together, they form an unlikely friendship against a chaotic background of cosplay, competition, and carcasses!
Don’t forget to visit all the wonderful stops along The Pros of Cons blog tour for a variety of reviews, interviews, giveaways and much, much more!
This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.