Recently, Swanky Seventeener Kristin Gray sat down with Sweet Sixteener Janet B. Taylor to talk about Taylor’s new YA time travel, INTO THE DIM (March 1, 2016, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).
When fragile, sixteen-year-old Hope Walton loses her mom to an earthquake overseas, her secluded world crumbles. Agreeing to spend the summer in Scotland, Hope discovers that her mother was more than a brilliant academic, but also a member of a secret society of time travelers. Trapped in the twelfth century in the age of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Hope has seventy-two hours to rescue her mother and get back to their own time. Along the way, her path collides with that of a mysterious boy who could be vital to her mission . . . or the key to Hope’s undoing.
Addictive, romantic, and rich with historical detail, Into the Dim is an Outlander for teens.
Janet Taylor lives in such a small town in Arkansas that if you happen to sneeze when you pass by, you’ll totally miss it. (Cause you can’t sneeze with your eyes open. For real–try it–it’s impossible.)
She’s a reader/fan first and a writer second. She lives with her fantastic husband, two hilarious sons, and Dorda the diabetic dog, who won’t win any beauty contests, but has a “nice personality.”
Kristin: How did you come up with the idea for your novel?
Janet: First of all, I’m a major history nerd, particularly English history. (Yep. I’m one of those annoying Americans Anglophile/Royalty geeks. I also love, LOVE to travel, particularly ‘across the pond.’ So when I got ready to write my first book, I decided I wanted to combine my two loves, and take my readers along on a vacation adventure they couldn’t get from any travel agency.
The beach? Pfft, done to death.
The mountains? Two words—Shattered. Femur.
Nope. I decided that since it’s my book, I’d simply write about my own lifelong dream . . . traveling into the past.
Kristin: How did you find your agent/editor?
Janet: The old-fashioned way. Query/Rejection. Query/ Rejection. Query…well, you get the idea. In the very early days, I attended a large writers’ conference. In a class of about 200 people, a high-level agent was calling on folks to stand and tell our ‘high concept idea.’ I was terrified of this woman. So—naturally—she called on me.
When I told mine, she literally scoffed and said no one would buy Time Travel and I’d best move on.
I. Was. Devastated… But, I simply couldn’t stop thinking about Hope and her story. So kept at it. I learned. I studied. I grew. And finally, in 2013, I “won” #Pitchwars, which is a Twitter pitch contest, judged by agents. I received sixteen full manuscript requests, and in the end, several offers of representation.
The agent I chose wasn’t even one of the PW judges, but had been a dream agent of mine for a long time. And I’ve never looked back. Mollie Glick (now with CAA-Creative Artists Agency) is a great friend, mentor, and remains one of the best decisions I’ve ever made!
Kristin: What was your revision process like for this book?
Janet: Long. Exhaustive. Intense. And worth every ounce of blood sweat, tears, spit (Yes, spit. Cause trust me, during a true revision, you’ll spit at your monitor. A lot.)
Kristin: Which DIM character are you most like and why?
Janet: Oh, I am definitely a Hope. I can’t claim her eidetic memory. (Ask my hubby—I’d forget to put on underwear if it wasn’t for him.) But the clumsiness, the awkwardness? That all came from me, though I do think I share Phoebe’s fierce loyalty to family and friends. As far as the guys go, Collum’s stubbornness and Bran’s deviousness might’ve come from the source. :O
Favorite writing snack?
That’s easy. Coffee and umm…yeah, more coffee. Since I start writing around 3am every day, I don’t eat much when I’m going hard-core, or I get sleepy.
Oddest job you ever had?
When I was seventeen, I worked as a tour guide at Historic Old Washington State Park in Washington, Arkansas. Dressed up in the Revolutionary War gown and everything. What? You ask if my boyfriend (and still hubby) popped by when no tourists were around to make-out on the antique furniture? Well sir, I am insulted! The audacity! *wink wink*
London!! Fave region? Scottish Highlands. When I win the lottery, I’m buying a posh London townhouse and a (small but tasteful) Scottish castle. One must summer somewhere, after all.
Music to write by?
Nope. Too easily distracted. I’ll start dancing, and trust me—no one wants that.
What were you reading when you were 16?
A Wrinkle in Time (again). Down a Dark Hall by Lois Duncan. Anne of Green Gables. The Outsiders. Katherine. Go Ask Alice. The Once and Future King. All things Jane Austen. Forever by Judy Blume. And…I’d sneak my mom’s spicy bodice rippers whenever she wasn’t looking. I mean, a ripped pirate and wench with a heaving bosoms? Who could resist?
Robot revolution or zombie apocalypse?
Zombie apocalypse. My family already has a plan in place.
Kristin L. Gray drinks coffee (cream, no sugar) and writes books (funny, not sad) from her home in northwest Arkansas. She loves to read, walk her dogs, and eat cake for breakfast. She will also travel any chance she gets. Kristin’s fourth-grade self would never believe she has five children, two dogs, one fish, a bearded dragon, and a shy gecko. VILONIA BEEBE TAKES CHARGE, out spring 2017 from Paula Wiseman Books, is her first novel. To learn more about Kristin, or to send her a cake, visit her online at www.kristingray.com.