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Interviews

Exclusive Book Pipeline interviews with emerging authors and playwrights.

Jocelyn Rish

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Jocelyn Rish was the Grand Prize Winner of the YA category in the 2020 Book Pipeline Unpublished season with her novel, The Drama Queen Who Cried Wolf.  Something that stuck out to us immediately upon reading The Drama Queen Who Cried Wolf was its unmistakable voice. It’s funny, charming, and never once outstays its welcome, while also not forgetting to keep the story moving forward—a must in a murder mystery. A comparison that instantly came to mind was Veronica Mars. How did you find balancing such voice-driven prose in a typically “plot-driven” genre like murder-mystery, and when were you confident that you had nailed it? Ha – are writers ever confident they’ve nailed something? But your description of the voice is definitely a boost in that confidence, since being compared to Veronica Mars is awesome! I’ve been working on Drama Queen on and off since I wrote the rough draft…

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Vimi Bajaj

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Vimi Bajaj was the Grand Prize Winner of the Literary category in the 2020 Book Pipeline Unpublished season with her novel, Vermilion.  Set against the backdrop of modern India, Vermilion is a sweeping piece of literary fiction that dissects archaic social inequities and violence against women. It’s truly breathtaking work—your prose is absolutely gorgeous, and the subject matter is incredibly timely and relevant to today’s society. Especially in the post #MeToo era, how important was it to you for Vermilion to shed light on these topics—especially through the lens of a culture where they are so often ignored? Thank you so much for your encouraging words about my work! As far back as I can remember, I have been fired up by both the obvious and more subtle ways that inequalities between the sexes are endured, promoted and strengthened in India and among the diaspora. From commonplace ‘eve teasings’ and…

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Ari Halevy

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Ari Halevy was the Grand Prize Winner of the Sci-Fi/Fantasy category in the 2020 Book Pipeline Unpublished season with his novel, Heretical.  Sanctum, the dystopian, caste system-divided setting of Heretical, is incredibly complex and immersive. On the surface, it seems like it could run the risk of being too difficult to digest. Yet, at no point did we feel like the mythology outweighed the narrative itself—an incredible, not-often achieved feat in the high fantasy genre, and a testament to your skill as a writer. It’s doubly remarkable when you take into account that this is your first novel. What made you want to tackle such an intricate subject in your first attempt at being an author? In many ways, the story I wanted to tell required me to leave my comfort zone. I’ve always been an avid reader of fantasy books, but the sheer scope they entail felt daunting to…

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Laura Picklesimer

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Laura Picklesimer was the Grand Prize Winner of the Mystery/Thriller category in the 2020 Book Pipeline Unpublished season with her novel, Kill for Love.  Kill for Love is a phenomenally executed high-wire act with regards to tone and voice. As a blend of pulpy, Tarantino-esque violence and biting, darkly-comedic social satire, it’s one of those pieces that feels like it could just fall apart at the seams at any moment. But you thread that needle with such precision. What were your biggest inspirational touchstones when creating Kill for Love, and how do you think you avoided the pitfalls most writers encounter when trying to craft such a tricky-to-achieve tone? Kill for Love began as a brief exercise in a writing workshop. We were asked to try on a particular voice from a well-known book. I chose Patrick Bateman in American Psycho, but I thought it would be fun to subvert…

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John Cosgrove

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John Cosgrove won the Grand Prize of the Outsider category in the 2020 Book Pipeline Unpublished season with his novel, The Black Space Behind Our Eyes. It sounds like a cliché, but in this case, it’s 1000% true: The Black Space Behind Our Eyes is unlike anything we’ve ever read. Its plot is delightfully bizarre, the prose filled with somber, poignant meditations on grief and loneliness, and it is unexpectedly hilarious at certain points. And when we learned that the book is loosely based on events from your actual life, our heads nearly exploded. Can you give us a bit of insight into what exactly shaped the direction of this ambitious novel, and how you decided what to include, what to exclude, what to fictionalize, etc.?  Firstly, massive gratitude to Book Pipeline for believing in this story. It’s a privilege to be part of such an awesome network of people, and…

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Jessi Honard and Marie Parks

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Jessi Honard and Marie Parks placed as finalists in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy category of the 2020 Book Pipeline Unpublished season with their novel Unrelenting. After an introduction from Book Pipeline, Jessi and Marie signed a publishing deal with Not a Pipe Publishing, who will release the book in 2022. Something that really appealed to us about Unrelenting was how it effortlessly blended supernatural fantasy and thriller into one cohesive, wholly accessible piece—one that expertly subverted the story and character tropes of those genres, yet took full advantage of the structural commonalities that readers love about them. Was there a conscious choice on your part to straddle the fence from the initial stages of development? Or did it happen more organically as you began diving into the manuscript itself? Marie Parks (MP): Organic, for sure! There are nine (nine!) drafts in our Google Drive, and the early versions bear very little resemblance…

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Ann Meyers Drysdale and Joni Ravenna

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Ann Meyers Drysdale’s biography You Let Some Girl Beat You?, written by Joni Ravenna, placed as a runner-up in the 2020 Book Pipeline Adaptation season. As someone who’s pretty fluent in sports—and I admit this painfully aware of my own sports history shortcomings—I wasn’t all that familiar with Ann’s background. But it’s a legitimately extraordinary one. It’s a story that captures a specific time period, but is timeless in its messaging. Outside of the checkboxes required of a biography, what were some of the primary ideas you wanted to get across? How did you see this translating to screen? Ann Meyers Drysdale (AMD): From what I remember, first, just convincing me to do my story in the first place! I wasn’t sure in the beginning how and what we wanted to say. Personally, I was uncomfortable “showing myself” to the world and felt that my sister and other family members had achieved…

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Amy B. Scher

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Amy B. Scher won the 2020 Book Pipeline Adaptation season with her memoir This is How I Save My Life, which delved into her battle with late stage Lyme disease, her treatment, and how the experience altered her outlook on living, healing, and moving forward.  Almost immediately after reading the pitch for This is How I Save My Life, we saw so much of this story as a film. By book’s end, it was clearer than ever. The rawness and lighthearted optimism of your voice, the brutal honesty of pain and the path towards recovery, and the perspective of your story that interweaves a certain sense of spirituality and mindset with science—it’s captivating, as personal as a memoir can come. Was there ever a sense of “can I write about myself?” or “do I want to re-live this?” after already having gone through the ordeal? What compelled you to bring this…

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Jenna-Marie Warnecke

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A finalist in the Book Pipeline Fiction competition with her short story Cuddlebug, Jenna-Marie Warnecke is a fiction and (as of 2020) TV writer. Her work has been published in journals and magazines nationwide. The underlying premise of Cuddlebug is so raw with so much universal heart. Where did the idea come from? What was alluring about the world of “professional cuddlers?” A friend of mine referred to my partner at the time as “Cuddlebug,” and I imagined a company of professional cuddlers, going around town comforting people in a physical but nonsexual way. By the time I got the story published, that service existed! I suppose I was prescient enough to foresee this type of gig work, but couldn’t get it out into the world fast enough for everyone else to think I was ahead of my time. My whole process of writing the story was just imagining, what…

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J.L. Willow

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Novelist J.L. Willow exemplifies the definition of “young, emerging writer,” having published two books by the age of 19. Her YA novel Missing Her placed as a finalist in the Book Pipeline Fiction competition for its unique twist on the genre, a premise that hit all the notes for a riveting film or TV series.  Addressing the biggest question first: you’re a freshman in college and have already published two books. . . . Clearly, you’re driven to get your work out there. How did you, in a way, expedite everything? I’ve always been one of those people who has to be constantly busy (sometimes too busy, if you ask my friends and family). I loved getting super involved in clubs and activities, but I also found that I enjoyed having a side project to do at home when I was finished with my everyday activities. It was really therapeutic…

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