Steven E. Wedel, and fellow VCFA grad Carrie Jones will have a book birthday when After Obsession is released by Bloomsbury.
Now this isn't the first book that Steve's written (and it certainly isn't the first one I've read.) But it is the first one from a MAJOR publisher which means more copies, more marketing, more exposure.
That includes ARCs or advance reader copies. Steve was kind enough to share one of those with me and I thoroughly enjoyed getting lost in the story of two teens trying to save a friend from possession. At the end of this post, you'll learn how this ARC can be yours.
This release illustrates where hard work and determination can take you. I've watched Steve's relentless dedication to his writing through good times and bad for more years than I'd care to count (we've been exchanging manuscripts for close to a decade now.)
It is also one of those "isn't it a small world" stories.
In 2008, I decided if I was really serious about writing, I needed to go back to school. I looked around at MFA programs, discovered the low-residency option and made a list of places to apply. I wanted to mark Vermont College of Fine Arts off the list. It gets SERIOUSLY cold there and the two weeks on campus were in January. That alone seemed like enough of a reason to look other places.
I couldn't believe it when I got a call from Sharon Darrow that I had been accepted. When I arrived on campus in Montpelier, Vermont in January 2009, I was greeted by a talented crew of graduate assistants, including one Carrie Jones. She helped welcome me into the VCFA literary family and made me feel right at home.
Needless to say, I am very excited to have a personal connection to both halves of this collaboration team and even more excited that they agreed to let me interview them here. You'll have to read to the end of the post for the ARC giveaway details.
Gayleen: I'm very intrigued by this collaboration (and maybe a smidge jealous that my long-time crit partner would go off and write a book with someone else.) Can you tell me more about how it worked? Did you do an outline first? Did either of you know exactly where the story was going? Or how it would end?
Steve: Oh, not to make me feel guilty, or anything! haha I'll tell ya what, since you're my crit partner and a mutual friend of both Carrie and I, I'll attach the outline we began with for your reference purposes only.
(Gayleen's note: don't feel cheated - this document said, "boy and girl notice friend acting strange, wonder if she could be possessed.")
Carrie: Wait. We did? We had an outline?
Steve: As you'll see, it's a bare minimum framework. We did that in late October 2008, then agreed to put the idea aside until December because I was working on something else and Carrie was going to do NaNoWriMo. I cheated and wrote Alan's first chapter sometime during November and sent it to Carrie. She confessed she'd cheated, too, and written Aimee's first chapter. Then it was off to the races! We wrote the whole first draft, which was quite a bit longer than the published book, in less than a month. We were averaging a chapter a day, and couldn't wait to get the new chapter from each other.
As to the ending, we knew there would be an exorcism. But as you'll see from the attachment, in the very beginning we didn't even know what spiritual base it would come from. Most of the plot turns and twists and details just grew organically as we wrote.
Carrie: It was much more of a discovery process that happened in the first draft, which is probably why the first draft was so long but also so much fun.
Gayleen: Were there any challenges or benefits to working this way?
Steve: Umm, working with Carrie.
Carrie: You are mean!
Steve: Oh, do I need to qualify that by saying challenge or benefit? haha Writing with Carrie was amazing! Our styles are pretty different, but we share the same goals of caring for and wanting to entertain young people. There was never any argument or ego trips or any of that stuff you sometimes hear about. We were just two people on fire with the power of the word. Can I get an amen?
Steve: Technology, of course, was a huge benefit. I would have gone insane if we'd had to mail chapters back and forth and wait on them to arrive.
Carrie: It was still really hard for me to wait for chapters to arrive. I'd check my email every five minutes, hoping that Steve had sent something. As for the challenges? Sometimes it was hard having Steve throw me a plot curve ball when I had my mind set on a certain thing happening after my chapter, but those curveballs were also what made it fun and gave it energy. Plus, he writes a really good kissing scene.
Gayleen: What was the best part about writing After Obsession together? Do you think it is a story you would have written on your own?
Steve: For me, the best part was not really knowing what would happen next. I never knew what Carrie would do in her chapter, so getting that e-mail attachment was like a Christmas gift every other day. Then we got to where we'd try to leave a big and bigger cliffhanger for the other one.
Eventually, yes, I would have written a possession novel. That's something I'd wanted to do for a long time. It wouldn't have been this one, though. I might have still done a Navajo Ghost Sickness angle, but there's no way I could have written this rich of a story on my own.
Carrie: Getting new chapters really was like getting something amazing in the email Inbox every other day. So that was the best part - the anticipation and excitement that comes with the collaboration. Every novel is a collaboration already really. You collaborate with your editor, with your readers, but this one was one level deeper. It was a giant adventure.
I probably would have eventually written a possession story in like 800 years. I used to be terrified of possession when I was little. I couldn't look at any horror movie images implying it or read any books. So, yeah.... I have issues with possession. My issues tend to get worked on the page.
Gayleen: Have you collaborated before? (feel free to share group project horror stories, if you'd like)
Steve: I sort of did once, a long time ago. Basically, I wrote the whole book and a friend critiqued it and made some suggestions, then said he felt like he did 30 percent of the work and wanted 30 percent of any money it made. The book -- which is a really bad sci-fi novel written during my political awakening -- is tucked away in a drawer.
Carrie: Nope. Other than really silly oral fan fiction when I was a kid. My best friend, Jackie Shriver, and I had this entire alternative reality world going on in eighth grade where we were magically trapped with Bruce Springsteen and... um.... okay.... Doctor Who (Shh!!! Do NOT laugh) and we'd talk on the phone every night making the story more and more elaborate. I am so ashamed of this.
We really wanted boyfriends.
You'll have to check back for the rest of the interview later in the week when we'll talk more about the plot of After Obsession.
Here are the details on the ARC giveaway. If you sign up to follow my blog, you'll be entered in the contest. If you mention the contest on Facebook, Twitter, your blog, or any other online forum, you'll get a second entry in the drawing (you'll have to email me the links for this part: gayleen [at] rabakukk.com) Commenting on the posts will also enter you into the drawing. Entries will close on August 31 and I will draw the winning entry on September 1 and contact the winner to get their mailing address. Good luck everyone!