Emma Pass On Writing the Second Novel

Welcome to another of my fabulous acronym-based interviews. The second novel is no easy feat, and with that in mind I put together a series of questions for debuts who are tackling the next obstacle in their career path. I call it the SNOB - Second Novel Omnipresent Blues. Whether you’re under contract or trying to snag another deal, you’re a professional now, with the pressures of a published novelist compounded with the still-present nagging self-doubt of the noobie. How to deal?


Today's guest is fellow Lucky13er Emma Pass. Emma has been making up stories for as long as she can remember. Her debut novel, ACID, is out now from Corgi/Random House in the UK, and from Delacorte in the US.  It won the 2014 North East Teenage Book Award, was shortlisted for the Doncaster Book Award, was nominated for the 2014 CILIP Carnegie Medal and has been longlisted for the 2014 Branford Boase Award and a Silver Inky Award in Australia. Her second novel, THE FEARLESS, is out on 24th April 2014 from Corgi/Random House and in early 2015 from Delacorte. By day, she works as a library assistant and lives with her husband and crazy greyhound G-Dog in the North East Midlands.

Is it hard to leave behind the first novel and focus on the second? 

It is! While I was trying to write THE FEARLESS, I was also editing/copyediting/reading proof pages for ACID, and it was sometimes quite difficult to balance working on a rough first draft (the part of the writing process I always find the hardest) with working on a polished, almost finished novel… and wondering if THE FEARLESS would ever reach that stage! 

At what point do you start diverting your energies from promoting your debut and writing / polishing / editing your second?

A lot of this stuff has to be done concurrently – there's no other way round it when there's only a year between your novels being released. And ACID released in the US just a few weeks ago, so I've been doing online promo stuff for it all over again just as THE FEARLESS is due to hit the shelves in the UK. But it's all good – and I hope there'll be lots of love for THE FEARLESS when Delacorte publish it in the US in 2015!

Your first book landed an agent and an editor, and hopefully some fans. Who are you writing the second one for? Them, or yourself?

First and foremost, myself. I have to love the story I'm writing; love the characters and the journey they're embarking on. Plus, if you think too much about what other people are going to say about the book, especially at the early stages, it can paralyse you.

Is there a new balance of time management to address once you’re a professional author? 

Definitely. It's easy to get sucked into spending lots of time online, chatting to readers and other authors, instead of writing. I was definitely more productive before I discovered Twitter! But on the other hand, I didn't have the incredible support network of fellow authors that I have now, so I wouldn't change anything. I do try and limit my online time now, but it's so tempting when you hit a plot snarl and the only other option for procrastination is doing the dishes…

The other thing that keeps me very busy is workshops and school visits. I love doing them, but it's very time consuming. I've found the trick is to fit writing in whenever you can – even if you only have an hour, get 500 words done. Every little helps! Luckily, I have a very understanding husband who doesn't mind me sitting in bed next to him tapping away on my laptop in the mornings while he's trying to get a bit more sleep.

What did you do differently the second time around, with the perspective of a published author?

Well, I definitely panicked more! When I wrote ACID, my debut, I only had an agent, not a publisher, and several years to write and polish it. THE FEARLESS was written in a much shorter space of time, under a deadline, and I was terrified, after hearing some horror stories from other writers, that my editor would hate it when it was done! But she didn't, and was really encouraging, which was a big help in calming my nerves.

However, all that fear (how ironic, eh?!) turned out to be a good thing in the end, because it showed me I can write an entire novel under the pressure of a deadline and contract – something I would never have believed I could do a few years ago. I've learnt new things with each novel – not just about writing but what I can do as a writer. And I think that's really important.