Friday, July 12, 2019

9 Questions With...Christina Greer

This week's author is Christina Greer from West Dennis, MA and her young adult novel Everything’s Jake.   

By Christina Greer

1.     What message are you hoping people will receive when they read your book?

I would like anyone who has ever felt isolated because of mental illness to realize that they are not alone.  No one should feel they have to hide or try to ‘normalize’ themselves in order to be accepted.

2.     Why did you write this book?
This book was born out of experiences from my own life due to having dealt with anxiety much of my adult life. The catalyst though, was when my own fifteen-year-old daughter began showing signs of anxiety, but fiercely denied its existence. Everything’s Jake weaves both of our experiences together and tells the story through the voice of the protagonist, Jake Forest. Being a middle school teacher, I see first hand how many boys are affected by anxieties, yet mental illness is often viewed as something that happens mostly to girls. I wanted my story to be written from a boy’s perspective because I know that many teenage boys are suffering in silence. Navigating through adolescence is difficult enough, so adding issues like anxiety and panic disorders to the mix makes teens feel lost and ashamed. I wrote Everything’s Jake for anyone who has ever felt as if they needed to hide or change who they are. I want my readers to know that they never have to live their lives ‘off on the sidelines.’

3.     What has been the hardest part of the publishing process?
Most definitely the promotional side. At times I wonder how I’ll ever sell any copies because this is scary and uncomfortable for me. I wish my words were simply enough, never thought I’d have to become a sales rep of sorts.
4.     What has been the biggest (pleasant) surprise in your publishing journey?
The biggest surprise for me was how many friends wrote me notes of encouragement. Some of these people I haven’t seen since high school, but they’ve written to tell me that they have already pre-ordered a copy! That feels so humbling. I am truly grateful. I hope they aren’t disappointed!
5.     Give some advice to someone who wants to get a book published.
My best advice (that I really wish I’d heeded) is to slow down once you’re ready to query an agent. Write, edit, edit, and edit some more, to put together the tightest possible inquiry letter. Looking back to some of the first query letters I sent out, it’s not surprising that several agents passed without requesting a single page of my manuscript. I know it’s hard to put on the brakes after spending so long crafting your book, but your work deserves it. I’m sure I would have received requests for material, had I put more energy into crafting a better letter. Read tons of samples before you attempt to take on this endeavor! And go to writer’s conferences where agents will be. You can try to pitch your story, or at the very least, make a few contacts so that when you are ready to query, you will automatically have a hook that interests a particular agent/agency.

6.     What’s the worst advice you have ever received about publishing?
Not sure that I was ever given bad advice. Most people that I’ve met throughout this process have been willing to help.

7.     What author or book has influenced your writing?
I would have to give credit to the very first author I fell in love with at a very young age - Judy Blume. Her books made me a reader. But the author who has influenced my writing the most would have to be John Green. Looking for Alaska and An Abundance of Katherines profoundly changed the way I viewed writing for teens.

8.     What is your philosophy about rejection?
Truth be told, growing up I was always a bit of a pessimist, so rejection isn’t easy for me. Luckily, I married an optimist who helped me to shift my thinking. His words, “Every single no, is one step closer to that yes,” have carried me through some tough times. During this book publishing process, his words always helped me get back up and continue searching for that yes.

9.     You are stranded on an island with only 3 books. What are their titles?
Gotta include mine, Everything’s Jake. Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club, and Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander. (There’s no way I could ever truthfully answer this question.)


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