The Compulsive Reader: Prized and Caragh M. O'Brien!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Prized and Caragh M. O'Brien!

Prized is the sequel to Caragh M. O'Brien's first book, Birthmarked! You can read all about Birthmarked here, and look for a review of Prized soon! Caragh was kind enough to stop by and answer a few questions about her books and writing!

TCR: What was the hardest part about writing Prized?

CMO: First, let me say how delighted I am to be here, Tirzah! I’m so happy The Compulsive Reader is part of the blog tour for Prized.

The hardest part about writing Prized was trying to write a first draft while I was still teaching high school English full-time. To keep the thread of my ideas going daily, I would write during my 25-minute lunch breaks, and then stop wherever I was to go back and keep teaching. It resulted in a very unwieldy, unfocused first draft that was monstrously long, 450 pages of dog-rot, and I also messed crumbs into my keyboard, but once the draft was done, I was able to start chopping and hacking it into shape. Gradually the project improved, and after twelve drafts, I’m happy with the way it turned out, but I never want to write a first draft that way again.

TCR: What was the easiest part about writing it?

CMO: The easiest part was deciding to dedicate Prized to my editor, Nancy Mercado.

TCR: What was your reaction to the cover face-lift the series received?

CMO: The cover face-lift was fascinating to me. I know the art team at Roaring Brook went through dozens of covers for the hardcover of Birthmarked, so conceptually the series posed some significant challenges. An obvious one is that Gaia is badly scarred on her face, which makes it tricky to highlight the protagonist on the cover, but there are problems of mood, too, and trying to capture the feel of both the future and the backward, primitive conditions outside the wall. Tim Green of Faceout Studio has done an extraordinary job with the new look for the series. The covers are faithful to the novels and intensely inviting. When I first saw the monocle on the cover of Prized in real life, I was blown away, because it really looks like glass is hovering over the wooden background, like you could touch it. I’ve never seen an effect like it before. We’re working on concepts for the third book’s cover now.

TCR: When you sit down to write, what are your writing essentials?

CMO: I don’t need much. My computer. One of those lap desk things. A pillow under my right elbow because for some reason my right shoulder gets sore. Sometimes I need a blanket if I’m cold, and I like to listen to Grooveshark. That’s about it. If I need to, I can write anywhere in a notebook. Mainly, I just need to write.

TCR: What YA books have you read and loved lately?

CMO: Lately, I’ve really enjoyed Jacqueline Woodson’s Beneath A Meth Moon, which is due out next February, and Lauren DeStefano’s Wither. The first invokes the power of writing to heal, even when dealing with drug addiction and terrible loss, and the second is eerily creepy. They both stay with me.

Thanks so much, Cargh! And for those of you following along with the codes, here's the one for my blog:

Prized Code #7: A

Can't get enough of Prized and Caragh? Be sure to check out the chat that will be happening on Goodreads November 8th, 2011! Click here to view the page. It'll be happening all day long!


LoriStrongin said...

Sad to say, I haven't read either of these books yet, but I definitely want to. Those covers are absolutely gorgeous and the more I keep reading about these books, the more I want to read them!


Jess (The Cozy Reader) said...

I'm reading Birthmarked right now. At 63% done, I can say it's an excellent read! I have Prized waiting for me from NetGalley.