5 Minutes Alone… With Joanna Campbell Slan

Brontë’s classic heroine, Jane Eyre, gets another outing with Joanna Campbell Slan‘s DEATH OF A SCHOOLGIRL. Classics-meets-historical-fiction-meets-mystery in an endeavor of broad appeal, so we’re very pleased to snag ’5 Minutes’ with a very busy writer.

We’d like to thank her for taking the time to be part of our “5 Minutes Alone” interview series.

AuthorScoop: What was your very first publication credit?

Joanna: A story I wrote in high school about wolves and a sleigh ride gone wrong.

AuthorScoop: Tell us about your latest release.

Joanna: The year is 1820, and Jane Eyre has married her beloved Edward Rochester, but their domestic tranquility is interrupted when a cryptic letter from Adéle Varens, Jane’s former student and Edward’s ward, warns that the girl is in danger. Jane races to London to the girls’ school that Adéle is attending and arrives in time to see a schoolgirl’s body being removed. Because Jane has been mistaken for an errant German teacher, she decides to continue the subterfuge long enough to investigate what’s really happening. The girls are in mortal danger—and so is Jane as she tracks down a killer.

AuthorScoop: Aside from your own hard work, who (or what) else do you feel has contributed to your success?

Joanna: When I decided to write full-time, my husband and I realized that this was a business, and that like every other business, there are investments that need to be made before you realize any real success. So that decision has informed all my choices. A lot of new writers think that a contract is all that’s necessary, but that’s just one step along the way.

AuthorScoop: At what time of day or night do you do your best writing?

Joanna: It doesn’t matter. I write every day, often into the evening, and even if it isn’t my best writing, it’s writing that I can edit and improve.

AuthorScoop: Finally, what advice would you give to new or unpublished writers?

Joanna: 1) Learn everything you can about the business. Most new or unpublished writers have totally unrealistic expectations about publishing.

2) Be ready to promote yourself. It’s your responsibility to sell your books, not the publisher’s.

3) Be professional. When an editor asks you to do something, don’t whine about it.

4) Keep improving. An editor told me the other day that most authors turn in their work and think, “That’s it. I’m done,” instead of wondering how they can improve as writers.

5) Make friends with other authors…before you need them. They’ll give you great advice and send opportunities your way. But don’t ever assume that you are entitled to their help.

6) Go to conferences before your book is published. You’ll learn a lot by watching other authors as they appear on panels. You’ll also have a better idea of the opportunities available at specific conferences because they all are different.

7) Read, read, read. There aren’t many other businesses where people display their end products to their competition. Therefore, by reading and paying attention, you’ll see what’s working and what’s not.

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DEATH OF A SCHOOLGIRL is available now, and its author, Joanna Campbell Slan, can be found on the web at her homepage and blog (or blogs, rather) not to mention Facebook and Twitter.

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