I’m thrilled to welcome my incomparable agent, Ammi-Joan Paquette, for an interview on the book birthday of her newest novel, Princess Juniper of the Hourglass. I got to hear Joan read an excerpt from this book recently, and now I’m devouring the rest. It’s wonderful, just like Joan herself!
First, a little about the book, then on to the interview:
For her thirteenth nameday all Princess Juniper wants is a country of her own. So when rumblings of unrest start in his kingdom, Juniper’s father decides to grant his daughter’s wish and sends her to a small, idyllic corner of the Hourglass Mountains until trouble blows over. Once there, Juniper discovers that ruling a small country–even just for the summer–is a bit harder than she’d expected, especially when cousin Cyril challenges her rule. Still, the most difficult part is to come. Juniper and her friends discover that her father’s kingdom is at war. The only way to stay safe is to remain in the Hourglass Mountains much longer than planned. Juniper may have her own country after all . . . but what will that mean for the kingdom of Torr?
This book is perfect for fans of Frozen and Brave, who like their princess strong and smart as well as sparkly.
Doesn’t that sound fabulous? And now, a quick interview with Joan!
EV: Princess Juniper is a book I’m so excited to share with kids, as are your other novels and picture books! How does being an agent help you as a writer?
AJP: As an agent, I read with a sharper eye than when I’m reading for pleasure. While this can make First Draft Joan quake in her boots a little, it can also be an incredibly powerful tool, when taken in the right way (and particularly at the revision stage). The biggest strides I made in my writing career were when I learned to step back and view my work as a whole, to see all the threads and arcs and binding lines and how they weave together to make a cohesive whole. This is a tool I apply to every book I write, but I first learned it while reading submissions and working with my authors on their own manuscripts.
EV: Every time you give me notes on one of my manuscripts, I think, “Yes! She totally gets it!” How does being a writer help you as an agent?
AJP: I think it can be encouraging to my authors to know that I’m walking the same road with them, in every way. Publication is a long, rocky, ever-winding road—and let’s be honest, there are setbacks of every kind lurking around the corner. Questions about your cover? Bad reviews? Revision doldrums? I’ve been there, fought that battle. I can relate. There’s something immensely reassuring and heartening about this, I believe.
EV: What is the biggest thing you’ve learned in your most recent writing work-in-progress?
AJP: Princess Juniper of the Hourglass is the first book in a series, and the first half of this year was spent working on the sequel, which will be out in 2016. This was my first time writing a book that wasn’t a stand-alone—and I was surprised at what a challenge it was! When writing book 1, I put a lot of care into weaving the story threads and character arcs to bring them to a peak then a satisfying close. And then, in book 2, I found that I had to dive back in and find new ways to extend the story, ways which had to feel perfectly organic and natural to the reader. Needless to say, I struggled with this. A lot.
Yet looking back now at this sequel, Princess Juniper of the Anju, I’m absolutely thrilled with how it came out; in fact, several of my readers have said they loved it even more than book 1. Those threads were tough to weave, and I felt like I was battling the elements for every paragraph. But it was worth it in the end. (We’ll see how I feel after tackling book 3!)
Thank you so much for sharing your insights, Joan! And welcome to the world, Princess Juniper!