We’ve got some exciting news on the blog today! One of our contributors, Kim Ventrella, is days away from celebrating the release of her debut MG novel, SKELETON TREE. If you’ve been keeping up with Kim’s posts here, you’re probably anxious for the chance to read her work — I know I am! In preparation for the release, Kim answered a few questions about the book, her writing, and what she's learned about publishing.
First of all, tell us about the book.
Skeleton Tree is the story of 12-year-old Stanly and his little sister, Miren. One day, Stanly discovers a finger bone growing in his backyard. He plans to enter a picture of his discovery in an archaeology contest, but the bones have other ideas. They start to grow. First into a bony arm reaching up into the sky, and then into a full-sized skeleton that only children can see. There’s just one person who doesn’t find any of this weird—Stanly’s little sister. Mischievous Miren adopts the skeleton as a friend, and soon, the two become inseparable playmates. When Miren starts to grow sick, Stanly suspects that the skeleton is responsible, and does everything in his power to drive the creature away. However, Miren is desperate not to lose her friend, forcing Stanly to question everything he’s ever believed about life, love, and the mysterious forces that connect us.
Where did the story come from?
I started by asking myself, “What would happen if a boy discovered a finger bone growing in his backyard?” I didn’t plot the story out ahead of time, so I was surprised by all of the twists and turns along the way. Drafting is awesome like that. Even if you do plot your story out ahead of time, there are always unexpected details and quirks that make the writing process exciting. Kind of like being an archaeologist and uncovering a full skeleton from what started as a single bone.
How long had you been working on this book before you felt it was "ready?"
I had actually been querying another novel at the time, but while I was waiting to hear back, I decided to write Skeleton Tree. Thank goodness I did. Since it was a quick turnaround, I really only did one big revision before sending it off, and the agent in question signed me on that book!
Describe your process. Do you write each day? Do you have word count goals to keep you going?
When I’m writing, my word-count goal is 2,000 words a day. I have to finish drafts super-fast, just so I don’t lose the magic of the moment. Then, as is probably always the case, the revision process is much slower.
What has surprised you most about the publication process? How did all of it compare to what you had expected / anticipated?
I’ve been really lucky. My agent, editor and the whole team at Scholastic are amazing! It’s so much fun to hear from people online who have read the book and loved it. I’m blown away by the whole experience, and I can’t wait to see what else my journey has in store.
Have you learned anything about publishing that will influence how you'll approach your next project?
Getting a book deal has changed the way I write in one big way. I used to be a total discovery writer, but now I have to submit proposals before really getting started on a project, so that means I’ve had to learn how to plan and outline. I think it’s actually a good thing. I still discovery write to some extent, but now I have a more balanced approach.
Any special plans for the book birthday? How does it feel being so close to the release date?
Yes! I’ll be celebrating at Barnes & Noble (6100 North May Ave, Oklahoma City) on the release day, September 26, 2017 at 6:30pm. I will do a short talk followed by signing all the books! There will be skeleton desserts, a photo booth, crafts and so much swag!!!
Be sure to CLICK HERE to view the SKELETON TREE book trailer.