We are thrilled that our own WU contributor Lydia Sharp is with us today—her posts are always funny, insightful, and full of both help and hope. Her latest book, MISMATCHED, was released on May 24. This is her second novella; she is also the author of TWIN SENSE, a YA contemporary novella, which was published in November 2012.
This is Lydia’s first foray into adult fantasy, and she’s said that this book has been extremely personal to her; in her words, writing it was “my way of dealing with external effects of my internal journey.”
We’re so excited that she’s here to share some of her writing process and inspiration.
Q: What’s the premise of your new book?
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MISMATCHED is a fantasy novelette about a young woman on the brink of adulthood. In her world, humans have an extra organ called a heart-stone that is connected to both the central nervous system and the reproductive system. The heart-stone not only guides each individual to their life passion, or career, but also leads them to, and “bonds” them to, their life-match (another word for soul mate). MISMATCHED is about one woman’s search and discovery of her life-match, who turns out to be someone it was thought biologically impossible to be matched to.
Q: What would you like people to know about the story itself?
I can’t put it into words any better than a phrase I found in a review of the book shortly after it released. “MISMATCHED is about being true to yourself and accepting the truth of one’s heart over the expectations of the culture and society.” (source)
This sentiment is exactly what prompted me to write the book–it is a result of the external effects of my own internal journey–and I’m so glad that it has connected with readers who need it as this time, while our cultures and societies are in flux.
Q: What was this book’s path to publication?
Her plan was simple: Find your life-match and follow your destiny—the heart-stone doesn’t lie.
On the night of her initiation ceremony into her chosen clan, Liu’bimec feels a scorching pain from something other than the marking iron. Her heart-stone responds as if her life-match is close. It burns hot within her, ready to bond. But none of the men she approaches induce a heart-stone bond, and if she does not bond with her life-match by the time a year has passed, she will be banished. Her heart-stone had guided her, but was it wrong?
Her questions only multiply when she finally does find her life-match. He is not a he at all, but a she, and if it were known they have bonded, Liu would face something far worse than banishment—an empty life without her match.
It took me about 4 weeks to draft MISMATCHED, but it went through many months of revision and editing after that. The months then turned into years. A lot of writer friends helped me figure out what was wrong with it, and also what was right with it. I am eternally grateful for their help and for never letting me give up on it.
My initial submissions were to sci-fi and fantasy magazines, but those markets were quickly dwindling. I don’t remember how many I subbed to but they all came back with rejections. The story had a lot of things working against it, apparently: its length (not really a novella and not really a short story); its content (LGBT is still very niche); it is fantasy written in first person present tense; it is fantasy without magic; etc etc etc, blah blah blah, there is always going to be someone who doesn’t like something about your work.
After TWIN SENSE was accepted by Musa Publishing in 2012, I decided to give MISMATCHED one more chance at life beyond my laptop. Maybe ePublishing was what it needed all along. My submission came back with an enthusiastic yes from head editor Elizabeth Silver, a contract offer, and a request for a trilogy proposal. The adage “it only takes one yes” has yet to be proven wrong. Despite all its previous rejections, MISMATCHED broke into three Top 100 lists on Amazon in its first week, and I am now working on a sequel. That one little yes made it all possible.
Q: What kind of music did you listen to while working on this book?
At first it was movie soundtracks, mostly from Hans Zimmer. Then I listened to a lot of acoustic versions of Lady Gaga’s songs. Her voice is powerful when it’s naked. While working on final edits with my publisher I had “Girl On Fire” by Alicia Keys pretty much on constant repeat. If you read the story, you’ll know why.
Q: What has been the most rewarding aspect of having written this book?
For me the most rewarding aspect of getting any book written, polished, and published is seeing the reactions from readers after it releases, whether those reactions are positive or negative. I appreciate it all, because it means they read my book, and no one has to read your book. It’s a choice that reader makes, to devote their precious time to something you created, when they could be doing a gasquillion other things. I don’t ever want to be in a place where I feel it’s okay to take that for granted.
Thank you so much, Lydia! Looking forward to reading your intriguing new work!