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, Sofiya Pasternack!
About the author:
Sofiya Pasternack grew up surrounded by goats. When she’s not working at the hospital as a nurse, she can be found enjoying Utah’s wild places, teaching her kids to make challah, and defending nice dragons. Currently furthering her education, she should definitely be studying right now. Her debut middle grade fantasy novel ANYA AND THE DRAGON was released on September 24th, 2019, and the next installment, ANYA AND THE NIGHTINGALE, is set to be released November 10th, 2020.
CN: Your debut book, Anya and the Dragon, features adventure, magic, friendship, and, of course, an unforgettable dragon! But it also showcases much more in terms of folklore and Jewish heritage. To complete a story with such accuracy, how much research did you have to do?
SP: I had to do quite a bit of research! There were a lot of things I wanted to include, but I didn’t want to just throw things in willy-nilly. I ended up not including a bunch of things because I just couldn’t make them work logically within the time frame, region, etc. And then there were a lot of things that turned into bigger pieces of the story than I expected, just because the process of researching them was so interesting! I wanted Anya to bake bread but I didn’t know what methods would have been available to her at the time. And in researching that, I got a couple of chapters of material. Medieval baking was no joke!
CN: Seeing as your first book was released in 2019, what about the publishing process caught you by surprise? Was there anything you wished you would’ve been more prepared for?
SP: I wasn’t super surprised about anything—or maybe I was surprised about everything. I knew absolutely nothing about publishing before I sold a book, and then it was a crash course constantly for over a year.
If I had to give past me some advice on how to debut a book, I would have told myself to spend less time on social media! Support other local writers at their launches and events. Just keep writing more books because when you start getting reviews back, someone is going to say something awful, and that’s going to suck all the joy out of you. Use your agent and editor more for asking questions about things you’re freaking out about at home; they probably have an answer, and it’s probably not as bad as you think.
CN: Your second book, Anya and the Nightingale, is set to be released on November 10th of this year. How would you say your writing, as well as your writing schedule, has changed since your first book’s release? Was anything more difficult with the second book
SP: I definitely established a more regular writing schedule after selling two books, not necessarily because I wasn’t disciplined enough to set one before, but because I felt like I was finally allowed to. For so long, writing was just the pastime, the hobby, the thing I did instead of watching TV. And it felt indulgent to demand “writing time” for something that was so, as I saw it, unimportant. But then I made money with this little goblin hobby of mine, so I finally decided that enforcing writing time was something I was allowed to do. I mean, I was allowed to do it all along. But I never felt like I could.
The first book is a leisurely endeavor. You can take as long as you want on it, polish it up perfect, and present it to your agent/editor on a gold platter. The second book is more frantic, especially if you didn’t expect a two-book deal. It’s more like you cobble together this thing and then slide it to your editor with a note pinned to the top that says, “I’m so sorry.”
I made a meme about it, because of course I did:
CN: ( Fun One) You have a love for goats, that much is clear. Zvezda, Anya’s goat, is proof! But if you had a goat as a pet, and had to name it after a character you discovered in a book (excluding your own), what would the goat’s name be and why?
SP: I love this question!! I’m going to have to name this hypothetical goat Professor Aronnax, after the narrator and protagonist of my favorite book, 20,000 Leagues Beneath the Sea. He may also be called “The Professor” but never just “Aronnax” because that’s silly.
CN: Any last advice for writers?
SP: I think the most important thing I ever did to further my writing career was to join a writers group. I learned so much from them! Connecting with other authors, really opening up and listening, giving and taking—it’s all so important. Writing can be so lonely, and making connections with other authors is what will keep you going when things get really rough and you start questioning everything.
Myself and Sofiya 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 making it, as well as furthering your knowledge on the craft of writing. And be sure to check out Sofiya’s work next time you’re looking for a great book to read! (And I’m speaking to you, dragon-lovers!)
You can connect with Sofiya Pasternack through social media and her website by clicking the links below:
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