17 year-old Zelia has a fatal flaw, and it’s not being a lab geek or dressing like a small troll. If she forgets to breathe, she’ll die.
Zelia has suffered from Ondine’s Curse since birth, a malady that makes every breath a conscious effort. Yet after she and her younger sister Dyl are orphaned, it’s not Zelia’s misfit status that causes trouble. It’s her sister. Dyl isn’t just pretty and sweet—she’s illegal.
In the year 2150, DNA must be pure by law, and anyone with enhanced genes face death. Before an underground foster family can offer the sisters sanctuary, Dyl is abducted by people determined to profit from her trait, whether she’s alive, dismembered, or dead.
Zelia’s only allies are the freak-show inhabitants of her new foster home. Along with the unexpected love of a very strange boy, she will need her flaws, their illicit traits, and every single breath to save the only family she has left.
BC: We just got two feet of snow, so it’s a good thing we’re hitting the trail in your neck of the woods. Tell us about one of your favorite trails.
LK: This a raised trail at the Fontanelle Forest Nature Center in Nebraska. It’s one of my favorite places to go with my family. So long as the mosquitoes aren’t too bloodthirsty, it’s pretty amazing. They also put up these gigantic sculptures as outdoor exhibits too. We’ve encountered dinosaurs in the trees and a twenty-foot tall praying mantis sculpture!
BC: It looks dreamy. I love the multiple paths – kind of like a Choose Your Own Adventure trail. Lydia, HUGE congratulations on your book deal and upcoming release. Is The Fountain your first novel? Tell us about your journey to publication. We’d love to know the juicy details, like how you found your agent, what the submission process was like, and how long it took.
LK: The Fountain is technically my third book. I did write a forty-page outline for a book in between #2 and The Fountain, which was a huge lesson in plotting for me. I started querying in May of 2011 and had a great request rate on my query. A few agents were on the fence, and passed for one reason or another. So I kind of knew I was close. In August I got an offer from a lovely agent, informed the others who had my full, and that’s when I got an offer from Eric Myers. I ended up signing with him in September. Luckily, the manuscript didn’t need any revisions, so we had it copyedited and got a pre-empt offer from Dial Books (Penguin) in October. Wow. Did that really happen to me? Sometimes I’m still in shock about it!
BC: A rock star publisher + a pre-empt a month after signing an agent = amazing! Since The Fountain is on its merry way to bookstores next year, what’s happening right now? How does the cover creation happen? Does your publisher help with a marketing plan?
LK: Thank you! As for the cover and marketing and stuff, it’s still very early in the game, so…I wish I could tell you! I’m still in the process of getting the manuscript ready for the final version. When that happens, the rest of that stuff will hopefully fall into place. In the meantime, I’m also working on a sequel.
BC: You’re not only a writer, poet, and illustrator, but also a doctor. One of those rare people who fully utilizes both sides of their brain. I love your blog The Word is my Oyster, and your Medical Mondays series, where writers can get advice about heaps of medical maladies. What has surprised you about the blogging community? How much time per week do you spend on blogging?
LK: That made me laugh. Illustrator? I doodle! Actually, the doodling started because I could never find the right illustration online for my posts. Plus the copyright thing always got in the way. Blogging has been amazing. I started to build a platform. I kept blogging because the community was awesome. They taught me so much about writing. Growing up, I was the girl that didn’t have a lot of friends. A small circle, at most. It’s crazy how many people I call friends now. It’s been wonderful.
I probably spend 3-4 hours writing posts on Sunday (much of that is spent researching the Medical Mondays posts), and probably 1-3 hours every day M-F. It is a huge time commitment.
BC: Wow, that is a big commitment, but on behalf of your readers, thank you for taking the time, as your blog brings a lot of joy, knowledge, and inspiration. What have you read lately that’s blown your doors off?
LK: Let’s see. I just read The Scorpio Races, by Maggie Steifvater. I loved the prose, so direct yet still so lyrical. Great world building. And I also loved Graceling, by Kristen Cashore. That one I started, stopped, and picked up again a year later. So glad I did!
BC: Both are on my TBR list, which is spiraling out of control. In closing, what advice do you have for aspiring authors?
LK. As hard as it seems, try not to compare your own journey to publication with others. There are thousands of ways to get there, and what’s most important is working on your own craft and skills. It won’t happen overnight, and there will be a lot of disappointments along the way. Most importantly–keep writing!
BC: Lydia, thanks so much. It’s been such a treat hearing about your journey. Best wishes to you and I’ll try to wait patiently for The Fountain.
LK: Thank you for having me, Beth!