Fifteen-year-old Callie buys a pair of real Prada pumps to impress the cool crowd on a school trip to London. Goodbye, Callie the clumsy geek-girl, hello popularity! But before she knows what’s hit her, Callie wobbles, trips, conks her head… and wakes up in the year 1815!
She stumbles about until she meets the kind-hearted Emily, who takes Callie in, mistaking her for a long-lost friend. Sparks soon fly between Callie and Emily’s cousin, Alex, the maddeningly handsome—though totally arrogant—Duke of Harksbury. Too bad he seems to have something sinister up his ruffled sleeve…
From face-planting off velvet piano benches and hiding behind claw-foot couches to streaking through the estate halls wearing nothing but an itchy blanket, Callie’s curiosity about Alex creates all kinds of trouble.
But the grandfather clock is ticking on her 19th Century shenanigans. Can Callie save Emily from a dire engagement, win a kiss from Alex, and prove to herself that she’s more than just a loud-mouth klutz before her time there is up?
I wish I was one of those writers with detailed outlines or stacks of notecards or at least a bunch of post-it notes and highlighters. Sadly, I just wing it, and when I’m done, I have what I call the “Word Vomit Draft”. From there I go back through it 2-3 times, adding scenes, deleting infodumps, etc, until it’s reasonably readable. Then I send it to a critique partner or two, and then I revise again, then I send it to my agent. That usually triggers another revision.
You can see why it takes me multiple drafts. But it works for me, and I don’t really like knowing where I’m going before I get there. What’s the fun in that?
I write basically whenever I can, but mostly that means 20-30 minute increments on the train or a lunch break. I promise—you really can write a whole novel without every sitting down for more than thirty minutes.
Also, I usually don’t touch my writing on the weekends.
I found a site called Fictionpress.com, where a lot of amateur writers share stories. I posted a few novels over the course of 2-3 years before I had a light bulb moment and decided to pursue publication.
What was it liked getting published? What was your publishing journey?
I wish I could explain how totally insane and surreal it is! Sometimes I get fanmail via the contact form on my website, and for one moment, it seems real, especially if they talk about their favorite parts of the novel.
It’s really strange, because you write a book in solitude. You sit with yoru computer and you type away and you make up stories. And then you fast-forward a year, when all the edits are done and the book has been produced and a cover is created, and it’s a book that someone purchases and reads and puts on their bookshelf. Those words will be there for a long time, and I created them on my computer. Really hard to wrap my mind around!
As for my journey, well, let’s just say it was more like climbing mount everest than it was cruising the expressway. I had to write and rewrite Prada & Prejudice several times, and we racked up a lot of rejections. It was worth it, though.
When I started Prada and Prejudice, the general story idea was to send a girl back to Regency England. And that is pretty much the only thing that has stayed the same since draft 1. (For the record, the book you read is draft 11.) It took a long time to figure out what the core of the story should be, and who Callie really was. In the end, I’m thankful that no one wanted to publish the early versions—reviews have been amazingly positive, and I think that’s a testament to all the work I put it into it.
I know Prada has gone through many transformations over the drafts, which must have been hard. How did you keep the faith, so to speak? Were you ever afraid of “losing” the novel?
I think you can probably guess by my above answer that it wasn’t about losing the novel—it was about finding it. It was really difficult to find the real story, to get the right mixture of characters and plot threads and voice. I’m really proud of how it turned out.
I’m not really sure how it was that I kept revising and rewriting and not just chucking it out the window. I don’t know if I could do that again!
Ooooh, let’s see. I think one of my favorite characters in the story is Victoria, Alex’s mother. She’s not in the blurb at all, but she’s this really stuck-up, very proper woman, and Callie has a really hard time relating to her. I think by the end, though, when her secrets come out, it’s easy to see why she acts as she does.
Give yourself permission to write crap. Crap can be fixed.
I think the reason I’m able to be a little more prolific is that when it comes to first drafts, I’m not a perfectionist. I can complete a book in 4-8 weeks. Once I’ve got a really scary looking first draft, the real work can begin. I think sometimes people are so used to reading finished, polished books, that they think, “I can never do this.” And it scares them off.
But remember that everyone starts somewhere. The book for sale at a bookstore is a book that has had critique partners, agents, editors, all help polish it. So give yourself permission to write crap!
Right now I’m juggling two projects ,both due out in 2010. The first is my YA follow-up to Prada and Prejudice, a really fun stand-alone novel that should hit shelves next summer. They’re working on the cover right now, and I’m really excited with the direction they’re going. I’m sworn to secrecy for now, but if you watch my blog, I should be announcing more details on this project in the next month or two.
The second is my novella for Harlequin’s NASCAR romance line, called DRIVEN. That one hits shelves in June 2010. The main characters are in their early 20’s, so while its meant for adults, I don’t think its too old for teens.
Realize that this is a business, and rejection is simply part of the process—it doesn’t mean you’re not going to make it. Everyone is rejected. EVERYONE. Even my published friends still get rejections. You just have to believe in yourself and keep working on perfecting your craft, and if you refuse to take no for an answer, then it’ll happen for you.
I definitely want to improve in terms of craft—I hope I continue to learn how to create layered, nuanced characters. I hope I continue to learn how to create a compelling story arc, in which all my plot threads are coming together at exactly the right moment.
But I also hope that I can learn how to put myself out there and do more events. I’d really love to be able to do classroom visits, or be on panels at conferences. Unfortunately I usually psych myself out, so I haven’t really tried to go beyond my comfort zone. I’m ready to bust out and get comfortable with public speaking!
Thank you, Mandy! Looking forward to your upcoming books.
Hubbard grew up on a dairy farm outside Seattle, where she refused to wear high heels until homecoming—and hated them so much she didn’t wear another pair for five years. A cowgirl at heart, she enjoys riding horses and quads and singing horribly to the latest country tune. She’s currently living happily ever after with her husband (who, sadly, is not a duke) and her daughter (who is most definitely a princess). Prada and Prejudice is her first novel. Look for You Wish and Driven, two more Mandy Hubbard novels coming in 2010. To learn more about Mandy and her fiction, check out her website and blog.