Golden Heart Finalist – Erica O’Rourke!

Young adult author Erica O’Rourke reads anything she can get her hands on – including cereal boxes and train schedules. But she writes what she loves: dark urban fantasy about girls who fall for boys they shouldn’t, learn to use their loud voices, and take control of their fate.  She likes the Oxford comma, anything ginger-flavored, driving stick shift, and flawed characters who have to make hard choices. Whenever possible, she avoids iceberg lettuce, live fish, algebra, and emoticons. Erica lives outside of Chicago with her husband, three daughters, and two very, very bad cats. To learn more about her, including her quest to create the perfect fish taco, you can visit her website, or follow her on Twitter: 

Erica’s Golden Heart manuscript, UNCHOSEN, is a finalist in the Young Adult category.

Mo Fitzgerald wants to have an ordinary senior year – and get out of Chicago, away from her family’s secrets and scandals. But when she witnesses her best friend’s murder, her need for vengeance eclipses everything else. Her search for answers is complicated by her new, bad-tempered bodyguard and a charming, mysterious Southerner. When she discovers her friend was prophesied to stop a supernatural apocalypse, Mo must step into her friend’s destiny and save the world, without using magic. To get the justice she seeks, she will have to leave her safe, predictable world behind, stop a mob war, and choose between two different, equally dangerous, guys. Most frightening of all…ordinary Mo must become extraordinary

 And now a little about Erica:

1.  How long have you been writing?
My whole life. There was a particularly unfortunate story I wrote in junior high about a group of friends who banded together to defeat an evil witch. In a stunning coincidence, each character resembled someone in my class. Sly girl that I was, I included a disclaimer on the title page stating that the characters and events were fictional, and not based on any person, living or dead. It was like the Law & Order of 6th grade novels. I am the slightest bit terrified that my mom has held onto it. 

2.  Did you always want to be an author or is this something you fell into later in life?
Despite my early efforts, I didn’t consider writing professionally until several years ago, at which point I said to my husband, “How hard can it be to write a book?”

I will pause while you get all that laughter out of your system.

Turns out, it’s kind of hard. Who knew? But I do it anyway, because there is no greater satisfaction than looking at that stack of paper, words strung together to tell some deeper truth about the world, and saying to the people I love, “Look. I made that.”

3.  What do you do in your “other” life? (Day job, family, etc.)
I stay home with my girls, ages 9, 7, and 2. I run up huge fines at the public library and drink too much coffee. I do laundry, but mostly because everyone else runs away when it’s time to fold the clothes, which means I can watch Doctor Who in peace.

4.  Who are your favorite authors?
This is like asking my favorite food – it shifts depending on my mood. How about five, each from a different genre? Barbara Kingsolver, Agatha Christie, Maureen Johnson, Jennifer Crusie, Libba Bray. And I can’t leave out Neil Gaiman. I don’t know how one person’s head can contain so much brilliance and not explode.

5.  Do you have an agent?
I’m working on it!

6.  Where do you see yourself in five years?
Publishing my second YA series and traveling to Maine or England “for research purposes” before starting another. If we really want to dream big, I’ll also have convinced my husband to get a puppy – a bigger challenge than getting published!

 And now in Erica’s own words…

Reading About Writing

Most writers I know have a shelf – or more often, a precarious stack – of books about writing. The allure of these books is their promise to tell you “the secret”. The right process, the right query, the right structure. They promise that once you know “the secret,” the whole mysterious world of publishing will crack open like an Easter egg to reveal a treat, like publication and overnight success and seven-figure deals. Problem is, none of them can give you the secret. None of them.  Why?


There’s learning. There’s hard work. Persistence and timing and luck and single-mindedness. But there’s no secret. No manual is going to drop a contract in your lap.

Still, reading about craft and the publishing industry is important. I’ve got my own precarious stack – more than one, in truth. Here, in no particular order, are the titles I read again and again, usually while wandering around the house in comfy pants, hunting  for a snack (around here, we call that, “thinking about the book”).

1. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, by Anne Lamott

 For my money, the most inspiring writing book out there. Anne Lamott is tough and funny and warm, and gracious even when you say something incredibly stupid to her at a book signing (alas, I know this from experience). Bird By Bird combines practical tips (use a fast pen, carry index cards in your back pocket, how to find a critique group) with fresh approaches to craft (pretend you’re looking at a scene through a one-inch picture frame to really notice details; think about the contents of your heroine’s purse to get to know her). This is the first book I recommend to beginning authors, because it covers so many aspects of good writing, but it’s useful no matter where you are in your career.

2. Save the Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need, by Blake Snyder

When I brought this book home, my husband gently pointed out that it was written for screenwriters, not novelists. Then he stole it from my shelf and wouldn’t give it back for weeks. WEEKS! Regardless of whether you’re working on a movie or a manuscript, Save the Cat gives clear, accessible advice about structure, loglines, character development and marketing. The fabled Beat Sheet alone is worth the price of admission. If your spouse, like mine, has both an interest in writing and felonious tendencies, it would be best to buy two copies. A small price to pay for a happy marriage.

3. Writing the Breakout Novel, by Donald Maass

With all the changes afoot in the publishing industry, it’s foolish to try and write anything other than a breakout book. If you’re a debut author, it’s what will get you out of the slush pile. If you’re already published, it’s how you increase your sales and grow your career. Donald Maass is a brilliant teacher with concrete, specific advice and approximately eight frillion examples from every genre. I do love me some examples! I would strongly recommend buying the book and its corresponding workbook. It’s impossible to read this without imagining how to apply it to your own work, and the workbook gives you exercises to do exactly that, while the book goes into greater depth.

4. Garner’s Dictionary of Modern American Usage, by Bryan Garner, and a thesaurus.

Yes, yes. I’m cheating. Two books, but they’re both reference – and they’re ESSENTIAL. Spellcheck means never needing a regular dictionary again, but a copy of Garner’s next to your computer will ensure you never mix up affect/effect, altogether/all together, and amuse/bemuse ever again. Also, it’s fascinating. I’m not ashamed to admit I read it for fun.

A thesaurus is also handy, especially when trying to describe your heroine’s raven/inky/jet/sable/ebony/midnight dark tresses for the squillionth time. Yes, you can find this information online, but if you’re anything like me, it’s a bad idea to access the internet while you’re trying to write. Your intentions might be pure, but an hour and a half later, you’ve seen twelve hilarious puppy videos on YouTube, you’re all caught up on Lindsay Lohan’s antics, and you’ve written precisely zero pages.

5.         Any book from your genre that you love.

Oh, sure, you can pick any book you feel is well-written. But for the maximum usefulness, choose one specifically in your genre, because your goal is to tear it apart (not literally. Nobody here is advocating damaging library books, mmn-kay?) and find out what makes it so successful. Read through it. What page do the hero and heroine meet on? Is it a three-act or four-act structure. Does it change POVs? Where? Why is it better for that scene to be told from the hero’s perspective than the heroine’s? How does the author escalate the stakes? If it’s urban fantasy or paranormal, how do they handle worldbuilding? If it’s got a particularly…frisky…scene, look at pacing and tension and the balance of physical description and emotional growth. You love that book for a reason – learn from it, so that you’re applying the underlying lessons without losing your distinctive voice.

Of course, there are many roads to Oz, my friends. What are the books on craft and publishing that you reach for time and again? Which ones not only teach you, but inspire you to go work on your own pages? No book in the world can write your story for you, but is there one in particular that’s helped you grow as an author, or think differently about your writing?

41 comments to “Golden Heart Finalist – Erica O’Rourke!”

  1. Vanessa Barneveld
    July 6th, 2010 at 2:26 am · Link

    Hello, Elisabeth and Erica, my fabulous fellow finalist! (How’s that for alliteration! There’s gotta be a chapter about that in one of those how-to books.)

    Erica, I love driving manual (stick shift). It makes me feel more active as a driver! I have a ton of craft books. A loaned ‘Save the Cat’ to a friend about a year ago and I haven’t seen it since. My current favourite guide is ‘Thanks, But This Isn’t for US: A (Sort of) Compassionate Guide to Why Your Work is Being Rejected’. What a title, huh?

    Looking forward to hearing agent news, not to mention sale news, from you, Erica!


  2. Gillian Layne
    July 6th, 2010 at 4:07 am · Link

    Good morning, Erica. Great post! I have been wary of “helpful” writing books in the past because I tend to get sucked up into them and the actual writing disappears, but I did get Break into Fiction by Mary Buckham and Dianna Love a few weeks ago and I really like it. They take you through plotting a book using four movies; The Bourne Identity, Pretty Woman, Casablanca, and Finding Nemo—all movies I love–and it’s so darn easy to follow.

    I have three girls at home, too. Fun times, yes? 😉

  3. Blythe Gifford
    July 6th, 2010 at 5:35 am · Link

    Erica, my friend: Well written and brilliant advice. Here’s the writing book I would add to the must own list: Techniques of the Selling Writer, by Dwight Swain. A writer recommended it to me in the ladies room at an RWA Conference years ago. I wish I knew her name so I could thank her in my acknowledgments.
    Will be cheering you on in Orlando!

  4. JoSVolpe
    July 6th, 2010 at 5:57 am · Link

    Great interview, Erica! And guess what?? Chihuahuas travel well…and if they’re short-haired, they don’t shed. Convince your husband!!!

  5. Kimberly MacCarron
    July 6th, 2010 at 6:07 am · Link

    I’ll have to disagree with Vanessa regarding the stick shift business. I tried to drive one once many, many years ago, and I dropped the transmission of my boyfriend’s car within the first five minutes. We didn’t date long.
    I wish I had tons of wonderful research books to recommend, but I don’t. I’m ashamed to say that I don’t even have one in my house. I guess I’ll have to go buy a few. I do agree that there isn’t a secret to writing, but I wouldn’t mind getting some fresh ideas. So, looks like I’ll be going back to the library with money in hand–to pay for old fines and to just give them my money in advance…..LOL.
    Your book sounds wonderful, and I’ll look forward to having it signed by the incredible author. See you in Orlando!

  6. lisa scacco
    July 6th, 2010 at 6:18 am · Link

    Erica, thanks for the interview, insight, and great recommendations. sending you my very best wishes for bringing home the golden heart (and finding an agent, publishing the book, getting the puppy). here’s to an extraordinary year!

  7. Shea Berkley
    July 6th, 2010 at 7:22 am · Link


    Your life sounds as random and buried in laundry as mine. (grin) I love, love, love writing books. A writer (okay, me) can’t have enough. I get a little giddy seeing how other people tackle the process of writing. (I know, sooo geeky, huh?) With that said, there is no better teacher than reading a great book and then writing.

    I’m with you. Save the Cat books are amazing. We lost a brilliant teacher when Blake Snyder passed away.

    Great blog. I can’t wait to meet you in Orlando. I just ask that when you take the Golden Heart home, you let me touch it for good luck. Tickle your girls for me, and I’ll see you soon.

  8. Eliza Evans
    July 6th, 2010 at 7:29 am · Link

    Great recommendations, Erica. I’m also a fan of Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones which, now that I think about it, I might pull down from the shelf today. Also, Stephen King’s On Writing — half memoir, half how-to.

  9. Jen McAndrews
    July 6th, 2010 at 8:01 am · Link

    Wow. Some really excellent books mentioned already! Ditto on the fabulosity of Save the Cat and Techniques of the Selling Writer. One that I find myself going back to time and again is Noah Lukeman’s The First Five Pages — sometimes it just helps to review the basics 😉

  10. Joelle Charbonneau
    July 6th, 2010 at 8:03 am · Link

    Hi Erica!

    Great tips for writing books – I firmly believe that one of the best books you can get to learn how to write is a great book in your own genre. It gives you a feel for the genre, the pacing and, of course, it allows you to remember why you fell in love with writing and reading in the first place. Sometimes we are so busy pushing to write or submit new pages that we forget to enjoy the process.

  11. Erica O'Rourke
    July 6th, 2010 at 8:35 am · Link

    Thanks, Vanessa! It’s harder and harder to find cars with manual transmission here in the States, unless you want a fancy-pants sports car, which isn’t really my thing. That title is FABULOUS — the literary equivalent of, “I like you, but I don’t LIKE like you.”

    Gillian, Break Into Fiction caught my eye a little while back — I will have to get my hands on a copy. Thanks for the rec. And oh, those girls. I don’t know who is going to have it tougher, me or my husband.

    Blythe! How could I have forgotten Dwight Swain! I bought that book after your brilliant workshop on plotting, and it was one of the smartest things I could have done. (The other was, obviously, taking your class. I use your techniques ALL THE TIME.) Thanks for stopping by, my friend.

    Joanna, thanks. That is exactly the kind of plotting advice I need. What are the odds I could just hide the dog? I’m not above such trickery.

    Kim, any boy not willing to teach you stick shift is a boy you don’t want. It shows a marked lack of character on his part. I highly recommend the library as a starting point, and then you can buy the books that work best for you. Like cars, your mileage may vary, after all.

    Thanks, Lisa! At the risk of sounding like Taylor Swift, it all kind of seems like a fairytale, but instead of a fairy godmother, I have this incredible group of friends and family who have been supportive beyond imagining.

    Shea, there is SO MUCH LAUNDRY. Happily, I have a lot of episodes of Doctor Who to catch up on. Now that I think about it, maybe my laundry baskets are like the TARDIS — bigger on the inside. Honestly, every time I pick up Save The Cat, I pause and think about how much Blake will be missed. Can’t wait to see you in FL!

    Eliza — I was wondering who would be the first to mention On Writing! Writing Down the Bones and Wild Mind were two of the first craft books I ever read. She is amazing.

    Jen, I’m writing down the Lukeman title RIGHT NOW. I read the beginning of Spelling and Glamour on your site, and you CLEARLY know what you’re talking about.

    Joelle, that may be the best advice I’ve heard all day. If writing is giving you no joy, there’s not much point in doing it. And it comes through on the page, too, which can’t possibly be good for your career.

    Thank you guys so much for stopping by! — E

  12. Lydia Hirt
    July 6th, 2010 at 8:42 am · Link

    Congratulations on an already exciting year and I’m sending all sorts of positive Golden Heart thoughts your way! Though not a writer myself, I admire the craft and have the utmost respect for those who do it well. I regularly gift the classic ELEMENTS OF STYLE for special occasions – though not everyone seems to appreciate this generous offering of usage and grammar but I think you may!

  13. Erica O'Rourke
    July 6th, 2010 at 9:14 am · Link

    Hi, Lydia! I love ELEMENTS OF STYLE not just for its advice — which is always spot-on — but its size, which is much more manageable to carry around than GARNER’S, which is the size of a phonebook, in hardcover. Also, I get a kick out of thinking Stuart Little is giving me writing advice.

  14. Cat Schield
    July 6th, 2010 at 9:42 am · Link

    Erica, great post. In the vein of BIRD BY BIRD, try Julia Cameron’s THE RIGHT TO WRITE. It’s my bathtub book when I need a little inspiration. I always come out relaxed and ready to write more. I also love to scan THE ART OF WAR FOR WRITERS by James Scott Bell.

    I own the SAVE THE CAT trilogy and use them all the time. For anyone who loves movies and/or needs structure for their plots, these books are great. Since I’m a bit of a writing reference junkie, I could go on and on, but I won’t.

    My TBR pile is HUGE. Since my daughter started reading “bigger” books, I’ve really enjoyed sharing the pile with her. Of course, I use the excuse that I need to pre-read for content (she’s only 10), but in fact, I love YA and much of what I read, she’s not interested in yet (she’s hugely into fantasy at the moment).

    Can’t wait to see you again in Orlando. We are going to have so much fun!

  15. Dr. Yan
    July 6th, 2010 at 10:34 am · Link

    Great post and very exciting times! I’m a BIRD BY BIRD fan as well and have my one inch picture frame always in view. Also with Cat on THE RIGHT TO WRITE.

    Dr. Yan sees gold in your future. Good luck at Nationals!

  16. Debra St. John
    July 6th, 2010 at 11:43 am · Link

    Hi Erica,

    Great interview. I love learning new things about people I know! (Although I do have to say I’m an automatic girl, myself!)

    Good luck in the Golden Heart! (I can’t wait to see that manuscript published!) See you next week?

  17. Pamala Knight
    July 6th, 2010 at 12:19 pm · Link

    Awesome post, Erica! I agree with and own most of the books on your list and plenty of the ones listed in the comments (Liz beat me to On Writing) and harkening back to the “your mileage may vary” theme, our needs might be different.

    I’ll be rooting for you to bring home that necklace. See you soon.

  18. Erica O'Rourke
    July 6th, 2010 at 12:39 pm · Link

    Oh, Cat! I loved RIGHT TO WRITE — I think every woman in my family owns a copy! I haven’t read THE ART OF WAR, but I will grab it at the earliest opportunity. (Can you tell my choice of topic was really just an excuse to buy more books?)

    Thanks, Dr. Yan! This entire experience has been delightful, and Nationals will be too, no matter what the outcome. My fellow GH finalists are an amazing group of people.

    Thanks for stopping by, Debra, and for all the encouragement you’ve given me! Wild horses couldn’t keep me away from next week’s meeting. And any time you want to learn stick, just say the word. Valuable skill, I tell you.

    Hi, Pamala! I agree…people need different books and teachers at various points in their career. That, I believe, is the beauty of RWA, because they offer such a variety of resources for authors. One of the smartest things I’ve ever done, I tell you!

  19. Jane Sevier
    July 6th, 2010 at 2:53 pm · Link

    What a charming, witty post, Erica:!: Love your intro:!: (Couldn’t resist the emoticons.)

    Thank you for the tip about Garner’s Dictionary. I luv me some style guides. I read Theodore Bernstein’s The Careful Writer and Wilson Follett’s Modern American Usage for fun, but I’ve had both books forever. Maybe it’s time to introduce a new kid to the group.

    My favorite all time writing guide, though, is William Zinsser’s classic On Writing Well. It’s the best nonfiction guide ever published, and any kind of writer can learn about turning out clean, elegant prose. You can find out more about Zinsser at

    My newest love is James N. Frey’s How To Write A Damn Good Thriller, which is so clear and straightforward in telling me how to do just that. His simple definition of what a thriller is made it worth the price of admission, as you say: A clever hero has an “impossible” mission to foil evil. Frey has several other Damn Good titles, and I plan to add them all to my shelf.

  20. Gabrielle
    July 6th, 2010 at 3:18 pm · Link

    “In a stunning coincidence” ::snort!::

    Erica, you need to find a home for Unchosen pronto, so I can enjoy it in the comfort of my living room. I *love* what you said about girls who find their own loud voices.

    I also love your list of writing books and have a few to add: Hooked, by Les Edgerton; Crafting Scenes, by Raymond Obstfeld; Sin & Syntax, by Constance Hall; A Writer’s Paris & A Writer’s San Francisco, by Eric Maisel; Thinking Write, by Kelly L Stone; plus anything by Donald Maass and Noah Lukeman.

  21. Margot Justes
    July 6th, 2010 at 3:59 pm · Link

    Terrific interview and wonderful advice. Another writing book I would recommned is Stephen King On Writing. The only thing I have been able to read by Stephen King, everything else scares the living daylights out of me.
    Margot Justes
    A Hotel in Paris

  22. Colleen Butler
    July 6th, 2010 at 4:01 pm · Link

    Hi Erica. I can’t believe I know a real author! We’re so proud of you. Let me know when you are published so we can read your book in my book club. Best of luck! Colleen Butler

  23. Erica O'Rourke
    July 6th, 2010 at 5:36 pm · Link

    Jane! My happiness that you stopped by is enough to forgive you the emoticon abuse…this time. Thanks for the excellent links and recommendations — I am really looking forward to checking them out.

    Oh, intercontinental Gabrielle, it is so good to see you here! I love SIN & SYNTAX. Have you read Karen Elizabeth Gordon’s DELUXE TRANSITIVE VAMPIRE? Or THE NEW WELL-TEMPERED SENTENCE? Those books are like a decadent treat to read when I’ve done my work. And I swear…the shocking similarities were all a big misunderstanding…

    Margot, Stephen King scares the ever-loving hell out of me. I’ve read ON WRITING, and STAND BY ME, and beyond that, I am too much of a wuss. I don’t get enough sleep as it is, and those books would keep me up all night!

    Hi, Colleen! Thank you so much for stopping by! And I promise, should UNCHOSEN see publication, you will DEFINITELY hear about it.

  24. Pat O'Brien
    July 6th, 2010 at 6:13 pm · Link

    Congratulations Dear Erica! I know the Golden Heart Award is in the bag with your name on it. I think a “research” trip to the auld sod, Mother Ireland, would tug hard on your ancestral stings and could inspire an entire book series!

    Step aside, Harry Potter. A young Irish Heroine is on the way.

  25. Erica O'Rourke
    July 6th, 2010 at 9:02 pm · Link

    Thanks so much, Pat. I think a trip to the motherland is a fine idea indeed. If I happen to accomplish some writing…so much the better!

  26. Heather Snow
    July 7th, 2010 at 8:12 am · Link

    Fabulous post, Erica! (Normally, I would post a smiley face here, but in deference to your distaste for emoticons, I shall resist the urge.)

    I hear many people say they love BIRD by BIRD, but I haven’t read it yet. Actually, I haven’t read any on your list. I will have to pick a couple up.

    I do have a bookshelf full of writing books, however…though I never seem to get to them. Since I am a historical writer, most of them are awesome research books on Georgian, Regency, and Victorian England (with some awesome pictures of pretty cool manor homes, which I love!).

    I took “The Hero’s Journey” by Christopher Vogler with me to the lake this weekend thinking to increase my knowledge on this break between my own books, but of course, I didn’t pick it up! I do love “Scene and Structure” by Jack Bickham, and “GMC – Goal, Motivation, Conflict” by Debra Dixon. And I highly recommend listening to RWA craft cds if you write romance. I do think, as writers, we should always be learning.

    Can’t wait to see you again in Orlando!

  27. Todd Stickney
    July 7th, 2010 at 8:41 am · Link

    Congrats Erica! Keep the faith. The greatest risk in life is to not risk anything at all… can’t recall who coined the phrase, but I do believe as an author you put yourself out there. Heart and soul on paper for all to see, experience, and enjoy as they discover your message. I’ll be thinking good thoughts for you.

  28. Sara Daniel
    July 7th, 2010 at 11:57 am · Link


    Fabulous post. I too will be taking a break from my laundry pile to cheer for you in Orlando.

    The first writing book I cut my teeth on trying to write romance was “Goal, Motivation, Conflict” by Deb Dixon. Not sure if it’s still in print, but I still find myself recommending it to newbies.

  29. Erica O'Rourke
    July 7th, 2010 at 12:35 pm · Link

    Heather, I am always impressed with historical writers, because not only have they mastered their craft, but they’ve also done a ton of research about the time period — research that I am waaaaaayyy too lazy to do. Though I do enjoy looking at old houses. Hmn. Must ponder… Also, how awesome is it that all of our handouts for RWA will be on flash drives this year?

    Todd, thanks so much for the visit and encouragement. It’s good to know I have people like you in my corner.

    Sara, you (and Heather) are ABSOLUTELY right about Deb Dixon. GOAL MOTIVATION CONFLICT was one of the first craft-oriented books I read, and I still go back to it now. Those little boxes/charts she demonstrates are one of my first steps when starting a scene or a novel.

  30. Jacqui Nelson
    July 7th, 2010 at 2:00 pm · Link

    Wonderful post, Erica. I agree with you and Heather and Sara. GMC – GOAL, MOTIVATION & CONFLICT by Debra Dixon is great!

    I also love SELF-EDITING FOR FICTION WRITERS by Renni Browne and Dave King.

    And I have something similar to the “Garner’s Dictionary of Modern American Usage” book you mentioned. Mine’s called THE WORDWATCHER’S GUIDE TO GOOD WRITING & GRAMMAR by Morton S. Freeman. And, yup, on occasion I’ve also read it for fun.


  31. Elisa Beatty
    July 7th, 2010 at 2:02 pm · Link

    Hey, Erica– the concept for your book is AWESOME. I love the idea of having to finish the friend’s mission without magic.

    I definitely share your love of all the writing books you’ve mentioned. I also highly recommend Swain’s Techniques of the Selling Writer.

  32. Erica O'Rourke
    July 8th, 2010 at 12:20 am · Link

    Jacqui, I think you and I are going to get along VERY WELL. Any fan of grammar handbooks is a friend of mine!

    Thanks, Elisa! I will admit to being a little smitten with Mo myself. I am a huge fan of Buffy, but I kept wondering…what would have happened if she had died, and poor hapless Xander had to take over? How do you defeat the big bad if you’re just plain you, no superpowers included? Dwight Swain is a GENIUS,

  33. Erica O'Rourke
    July 8th, 2010 at 12:21 am · Link

    Jacqui, I think you and I are going to get along VERY WELL. Any fan of grammar handbooks is a friend of mine!

    Thanks, Elisa! I will admit to being a little smitten with Mo myself. I am a huge fan of Buffy, but I kept wondering…what would have happened if she had died, and poor hapless Xander had to take over? How do you defeat the big bad if you’re just plain you, no superpowers included? And yes, Dwight Swain is a GENIUS.

  34. Jessica Darago
    July 11th, 2010 at 8:28 am · Link

    Coming late to this thread, but I had to high-five the fellow Garner’s lover. I think I actually have a crush on Mr. Garner, ever since I stumbled across this entry he wrote in chapter 5 of The Chicago Manual of Style: “When applied to a thing, what is broad and asks for any one thing, especially of a set {What is your quest?} {What is your favorite color?}.”

    A man who inserts sly Monty Python references in serious academic reference material? *swoon*

  35. Shereen Stickney
    July 13th, 2010 at 1:09 pm · Link

    Congratulations Erica!! Best of luck to you at the National Conference. Hope you guys are enjoying your summer!

  36. Erica O'Rourke
    July 13th, 2010 at 1:40 pm · Link

    I agree, Jessica. I have no idea what Bryan Garner looks like, but he’s pretty dreamy, in my book.

    Thanks, Shereen! I will definitely keep you posted on everything that happens!

  37. Becky Jakubowski
    July 18th, 2010 at 7:37 am · Link

    Congratulations Erica! I am excited for you and your blossoming career! I can’t wait to see your books on the shelves! Very proud of you!

  38. Amy Schneider
    July 18th, 2010 at 10:13 am · Link

    Charley, Mr. Schneider, and I are so excited for you, Erica!! I thoroughly enjoyed reading your interview. To think that I thought I knew you all too well from our many chats… Thank you for letting me into this amazing part of your life. I could not be happier for you and wish you ALL the luck in the world. Sending super positive thoughts your way! Can’t wait to curl up with Charley and read your book in the future!

  39. Judith West
    July 18th, 2010 at 12:34 pm · Link

    Erica —

    You sound as delightful and smart as your mom (a particular friend of mine). And I’m especially charmed at your articulation of the “rules” of any art:

    “THERE IS NO SECRET. . . . There’s learning. There’s hard work. Persistence and timing and luck and single-mindedness.”

    A difficult lesson for many artists — and brava to you for loud-voicing it!

    Great good luck to you! I look forward to reading UNCHOSEN. (Good YA is good lit — and the world’s happiest substitute for self-help reading!)


    Judith West

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