Writing is a lonely occupation. Last December, too excited after I finished the rough draft of my work in progress, I took to Twitter with a vengeance. I followed authors, agents, small publishers and people who wrote a lot about the art of writing. One of those people was Mia Seigert. I watched in awe as she tweeted about her debut novel being out this Spring. One conversation online led to another over the phone and I was blown by how easy she was to talk to and how generous she was with sharing her experiences. So, when I got a chance to read an Advance Reader Copy (ARC) of her novel, I jumped at the chance. I also asked her a few questions about her journey.
Introducing Mia Siegert, author of Jerkbait. Link to my review of the novel at the end of the interview.
1. When did you first realize you wanted to write professionally?
When I was nineteen. My best friend (and amazing writer) Kale Night and I were chatting online while we were RPing and she suggested I write novels partly to cope with the end of my riding career. It clicked then–I knew on the spot that’s what I wanted to do.
2. What was your darkest hour in the journey to publication?
I had 208 rejections in a row over three years. I was mocked by a lot of people who I thought were my friends, was told I would never be published, that I just wasn’t good enough. That my fragmented, punchy writing would never work, that I couldn’t do lyrical prose. I was told I was a failure, repeatedly. I still am often told I’m a failure, though I’m trying to cut those people out of my lives.
3. If there is one person you want to call a mentor/muse/inspiration on this journey, who would that be?
I had many.
From Goddard: Rebecca Brown, Douglas A. Martin, and John McManus.
From Montclair State: David Galef
From Outside of Traditional Education: Judy Troy, Mark Spencer, and Kale Night
For Other Debut Authors: Like everyone in the Sweet Sixteens. Seriously. I’m stunned.
4. Why young adult? Why not contemporary fiction?
Well, it is still contemporary, just not adult fiction. As someone who primarily writes adult fiction, and mostly literary, I’m very comfortable letting the story dictate what’s to happen next. Outlines really throw me. So, in letting the story dictate itself, I realized quickly, “Oh, hey, it’s a YA. Cool. We’ll go with that.”
5. Have you ever been tempted to fictionalize your life story or draw heavily from it?
Jerkbait was a semi-autobiographical novel. There are still parts in it that happened to me IRL, verbatim.
6. How does it feel like to be on the other side i.e., a published author?
Pretty similar, except there’s more vulnerability knowing people will read my work. Having strangers reach out to say they’ve preordered it is surreal. I think there was more of a difference in how I felt with getting my agent because I like the whole marketing and strategizing aspect with traditional publishing.
7. If ever you had a chance to pay it forward within the writing community, how would you do it?
I try to talk about books I love, authors I admire, and encourage some writers with a unique voice to continue. I teach Advanced Fiction Workshops, and a high percentage of my students end up published and in grad school. So it’s nice to give back to the community.
8. What is your favorite quote?
“Practice doesn’t make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect.” – George Morris, Chef D’equip of the United States Show Jumping Team and my former trainer
9. If you could spend half a day with an author of your choosing, who would that be and why?
I’d love to sit down with Gillian Flynn or Eric Rickstad and pick their brains, ask how they were able to do what they do.
10. Anything else you would like to say?
I’m grateful for the support from family and friends. I couldn’t have done it without them.