Welcome back to You Heard Write! A place where writers and fans can hear from their favorite authors as they discuss aspects of the craft, up and coming publications, and personal experiences.
Today we welcome a very special guest, Corey Ann Haydu!
About the author:
Corey Ann Haydu is the author of YA novels, OCD LOVE STORY, LIFE BY COMMITTEE, MAKING PRETTY, and THE CAREFUL UNDRESSING OF LOVE, as well as the middle-grade novels RULES FOR STEALING STARS and THE SOMEDAY SUITCASE. A graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and The New School’s Writing for Children MFA program, Corey has been working in children’s publishing since 2009
In 2013, Corey was chosen as one of Publisher Weekly’s Flying Starts. Her books have been Amazon Book of the Month Selections, Junior Library Guild Selections, Indie Next Selections, and BCCB Blue Ribbon Selections.Corey is also on the faculty of Vermont College of Fine Arts’ MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults program.
In January 2020, Corey’s first chapter book series will debut with HAND ME DOWN MAGIC: STOOP SALE TREASURE. Later in 2020, her next YA novel, EVER CURSED will hit shelves.Corey lives in Brooklyn with her husband, her daughter, her dog, Oscar, and a wide variety of cheese.
CN: Writing a middle grade story that features addiction and how it affects a family is something that needs to be handled with precision and care in order to keep the story suitable for younger audiences. In Rules for Stealing Stars you did that beautifully. So what advice would you give to authors who may be struggling to address such topics in their stories intended for younger readers?
CAH: Thank you so much! As the child of an alcoholic myself, I knew writing about this topic was really necessary, and that young readers deserve stories that reflect their real lives, and often those lives are filled with things that people don’t think they are “ready” to actually talk about. For me, it’s important to write both honestly and with hope. But I think hope is a broad term that can be defined in so many ways, so it doesn’t have to be a really idyllic version of hope. I truly believe that there’s no topic that is off-limits for kids, but you adjust the HOW of writing about a certain topic. I would tell writers to remember that kids are from many different kinds of families and circumstances, and to treat their stories with care, clarity, and to keep their value front and center. If kids know they have value, that they are important and deserving of love– that’s where hope lies. I want to add that Sesame Street just this week has introduced an addiction narrative into one of their character’s lives, proving that there really is a way to talk to every age about addiction, even if it feels impossible and scary.
CN: Finding an agent who is interested in your work is no small task. What can writers do to stand out in the crowd and get more manuscript requests?
CAH: I think my best advice is to just do your best work. Finding the right agent really is a two way street. Your agent is your partner, so you need to find someone who you work well with and who understands your vision for your work. There’s no fancy trick to finding one. Just do your research and come to them with your best possible, most complete work. Find trusted readers to discuss your work with you before you send it out to agents. Make sure you’re querying agents with something that really reflects who you are as a writer, something you feel confident and excited about. And make sure your list of agents also reflects the kind of writer you are– look for agents who represent the type of books you are interested in working on, follow their guidelines, and stay open to their feedback! You want an agent who is truly excited about YOU, so be patient and persistent in finding that person.
CN: With your background in teaching, as well as doing manuscript critiques, what are some of the most common issues you come across in manuscripts?
CAH: The number one lesson I can teach any writer is the value of staying In Scene. This means that instead of going over what happened in a general way, or telling the reader what “usually” or “always” happens, choosing a specific, grounded time and place and really digging into what that moment feels like. A lot of writers veer out of scene in moments when we really want to be right next to the main character, experiencing things for ourselves. Readers want to have the opportunity to make their own judgments on what’s going on– and the only way they can do this is to give them the opportunity to experience things for themselves. Instead of saying “my friend is really mean”, give us a specific scene, a contained moment of cruelty with dialogue and behavior and sensory details so that the reader, after reading the scene, knows for themselves that the character is mean. Be relentless in looking in your work for moments when you are in and out of scene!
CN: ( Fun One) In Rules for Stealing Stars, your host of characters find magic in their closets. If your closet was magical like theirs, what do you think you’d find in it?
CAH: What a beautiful question! I think my magical closet would be sparkly and filled with flowers. My wardrobe is filled with floral patterns, so I imagine if my closet was magical all my floral dresses and shirts and sweaters would come to life and it would be just a fantastical world of a billion different flowers growing all over each other!
CN: What can your fans expect from the next Corey Ann Haydu book(s)?
CAH: I have a lot of books coming out over the next year or two! They all feature magic, characters who struggle with not being perfect, and complicated friendships. Next up is my chapter book series for readers age 6 and up, HAND-ME-DOWN MAGIC. It is about a part-Puerto Rican family inspired by the family my daughter is growing up in, who owns a second hand shoppe filled with maybe-magical objects. It follows two best-friend-cousins and their adventures with their family, the shoppe, and the possibility of magic that hangs around them. The first two books in the series, STOOP SALE TREASURE and CRYSTAL BALL FORTUNES come out June 9, 2020.I also have a new YA novel coming out in the summer, July 14, 2020. It’s call EVER CURSED and it’s a feminist fairytale about five spellbound princesses, the witch who placed the spell upon them, and the secrets their kingdom has been hiding. I will have another middle grade novel out in 2021, that is about friendship and family expectations, and what happens when you don’t live up to your destiny.
CN: Any last advice for writers?
CAH: Keep writing, and try to find ways to make the process joyful– at least sometimes! Maybe that means writing at a cafe or only writing 100 words at a time. Maybe it means going on a writing retreat or doing nanowrimo or making sure you’re working on projects that mean something to you. But for me, finding joy in the work is what keeps me going and makes it all worth it!
Myself and Corey want to thank you all for stopping by You Heard Write! We hope you had as much fun reading the Q and A as we did ourselves, as well as furthering your knowledge on the craft of writing. And be sure to check out Corey’s work next time you’re looking for a great book to read.
You can connect with Corey on social media by clicking on the links below!
You can also check out her website–Corey Ann Haydu. And if you’re a writer looking for some professional help, she does manuscript critiques! (Couldn’t ask for a better author to critique with!)
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