Today’s secrets come courtesy of Erica O’Rourke, who is no stranger to the series game. Her TORN trilogy wrapped up in 2012, and this month, DISSONANCE, the first in her next series project, is out! Erica talks to us about motivation, the importance of the relationships between her characters, and the problem with revising by hand. Thanks for being here, Erica!
YA Series Insiders: How would you describe X character in one sentence?
Erica O’Rourke: Del Sullivan is smart and stubborn and snarky and secretive – and softer than she’ll admit.
Simon Lane is holding on to secrets even he doesn’t know.
YASI: If you were going to write a spin-off about one of your characters, who would it be and why?
EA: My initial response to this would have been Addison, Del’s older sister – but I got my wish, and an Addie-centric novella will be published in the spring of 2015. I think it would be fun to write a story from Eliot’s point of view – he’s absolutely devoted to Del, but he sees the world in a vastly different way.
YASI: What song best fits X character?
EA: Joseph Arthur’s “Honey and The Moon” is the perfect swoony fit for Del and Simon – but to tell you why would be a spoiler. “Right now/ everything you want is wrong and / right now all your dreams are waking up and /right now I wish I could follow you…”
YASI: What’s your weirdest writing habit?
EA: I have to revise by hand, not on the screen. It’s terribly inefficient, not to mention time-consuming, and I go through those pens by the (very expensive) case, but I can’t work any other way.
YASI: What motivates you to write even when you don’t feel up to it?
EA: Alas, I am what one might call an externally motivated writer. I need a deadline – preferably one imposed by my editor or agent. The knowledge I’ve signed a legal document promising to deliver a manuscript is incredibly motivating, as I have no desire to ever be sued for breach of contract.
EO: On a day-to-day basis, it’s all about the rewards. Meeting my daily word count earns me an episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine or Doctor Who, for example, or a cookie. Finishing a book earns a bigger reward — when I turned in the last book of my previous trilogy, I bought an iPad and had it engraved with the series’ tagline. I’m pretty strict with myself, so the reward system is astonishingly effective.
YASI: What scene made you cry while you were writing?
EO: There are three in DISSONANCE that made me cry – The big blowout between Del and her best friend is one of them, because watching a lifelong friendship shatter is heartbreaking. The other two scenes were equally gutwrenching, but to tell you any more would spoil things. In the sequel, there were…a lot. The body count is pretty high, and Del has to make tough choices and go through some awful stuff. I’d tell you more, but I don’t want to spoil anything.
YASI: What is the core thing in your book? The one thing you would never in a million years have given up no matter how much money someone paid you?
EO: The arc of Del and Simon’s relationship – the secrets revealed and the choices each of them made, both good and bad – including the ending. If I’d changed it, the entire book would have been for naught.
YASI: Did anything happen in your series that surprised you, that you didn’t plan?
EO: I didn’t anticipate the focus on Addie and Del’s relationship – I had initially planned for most of Del’s Walking to take place with Monty and Eliot. But the dynamic between the sisters was too rewarding not to explore on the page.
YASI: Any advice for writers currently working on a series?
EO: Play the long game. Think about how you want the story to end, and make sure the threads are there from the beginning. For example, there’s a reveal in the sequel to DISSONANCE that’s absolutely crucial to the entire story. Because I knew that I was working toward that reveal, I was able to insert clues throughout Book 1. You don’t have to plan out every single thing – part of the fun of a series is the twisty, turny nature of the story. But a little forethought saves you from writing yourself into corners, as well as those implausible deux ex machine, eleventh-hour saves.
The other thing to remember is that each book needs to stand on its own, as well as serve as an act in a larger overarching story. It’s easiest to see in a trilogy, of course – Book One also functions as Act One – but it holds true for duologies and larger series as well. That helps you create a sense of momentum and rising stakes throughout the series.
YASI: If you could pull one thing from your series world to have in real life, what would it be?
EO: Del’s kitchen. It’s an excellent kitchen and there are always homemade cookies.
About the Book
Delancy Sullivan has always known there’s more to reality than what people see. Every time someone makes a choice, a new, parallel world branches off from the existing one. Eating breakfast or skipping it, turning left instead of right, sneaking out instead of staying in bed ~ all of these choices create an alternate universe in which an echo self takes the road not travelled and makes the opposite decision. As a Walker, someone who can navigate between these worlds, Del’s job is to keep all of the dimensions in harmony.
Normally, Del can hear the dissonant frequency that each world emits as clear as a bell. But when a training session in an off-key world goes horribly wrong, she is forbidden from Walking by the Council. But Del’s not big on following the rules and she secretly starts to investigate these other worlds. Something strange is connecting them and it’s not just her random encounters with echo versions of the guy she likes, Simon Lane.
But Del’s decisions have unimaginable consequences and, as she begins to fall for the Echo Simons in each world, she draws closer to a truth that the Council of Walkers is trying to hide ~ a secret that threatens the fate of the entire multiverse.
Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound|Goodreads
About the Author
I write books about girls who make their own fate and fall for boys they shouldn’t.
I live outside Chicago. I like to travel but I’ll never really leave this city.
I prefer cookies to cake (even cupcakes), television to movies, and autumn to all the other seasons.
I like sushi, naps, coffee, and driving stick shift.
I hate fish, emoticons, bridges, and talking about myself.