Authors on the Verge: Meet Aprilynne Pike, young adult fantasy novelist

Aprilynne Pike
Aprilynne Pike

This week we have the amazing Aprilynne Pike. She has been spinning faerie stories since she was a child with a hyper-active imagination. She completed her BA in Creative Writing at the age of twenty at Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho. When not writing, Aprilynne can usually be found at the gym; she also enjoys singing, acting, reading, and working with pregnant moms as a doula. Aprilynne currently lives with her husband and three kids in Utah, and dreams of warmer climates.

And here’s the scoop on her debut novel WINGS coming out with HarperTeen in May 2009.

WINGS is the first of four books about an ordinary girl named Laurel who discovers she is a faerie sent among humans to guard the gateway to Avalon. When Laurel is thrust into the midst of a centuries-old battle between faeries and trolls, she’s torn between a human and a faerie love, as well as her loyalties to both worlds.

Now let’s start the interview, Aprilynne. When you received your offer, what happened?

I was surprisingly calm. In fact my agent was like, “Are you okay with that?” and I told her I was thrilled (and I was!) and she said, “Oh good, I couldn’t tell.” That was the initial offer and my agent told me she would be shopping that offer around. So I settled down for the wait. The next day, in the middle of my Yoga class, the guy from the front desk came in and announced that I had a phone call. It was my husband. He had been checking my e-mail for me since he knew I was gone and I had an e-mail titled “Revised Offer” from my agent. He read me the email on the phone and it was a pre-empt offer!! I went back to finish the last ten minutes of my Yoga class and even though I was supposed to be relaxing my face, that darn smile just wouldn’t go away. 🙂

So now that you have a contract, what’s it like to be on the other side–on the verge of publication? What does it feel like to be official?

It is exhilarating, exciting, heart-stopping, smile-making, and a little scary! But overall it is just amazing! Every little new thing that happens is exciting and makes the long wait till actual publication seem a little shorter. Most of all, I am looking forward to seeing my book on a real bookstore shelf! . . . and signing it, of course. 😉

Tell us a little bit about your path to publication.

I seriously started writing in Fall of 2006. When I finished my first book I was lucky enough to get an agent referral from a friend. Ten months, two books, and over one hundred rejections later, I ended up signing with that first agent who I ever sent anything to.:) She tried to sell my first book and we had no takers. However, while it was on submission, I had a burning idea for a new book. I wrote it, my agent and I polished it, and then we sold it just a few days less than six months after I started writing it.

And here’s our favorite question. How many rejections did you receive IN GENERAL (not just for these books) before you landed your first major publishing contract?

  • 0-10
  • 11-25
  • 26-50
  • 51-100
  • 100+

Tell us about one of your most heart-breaking rejections and about one of your best.

My worst rejection was from an editor who said that my book really stuck with her for days, but in the end was just not enough to make her want to acquire it. I agonized over this because it was an editor who I really thought would love it.

The best one was also from an editor. She loved the book and commented that she couldn’t acquire it because it was “too perfect.” She had a book with a similar premise coming out from an already established MG author. I must have read that rejection twenty times that day!

How long did it take to sell your books, from putting the first words on the page to receiving an offer? Here are your choices.

  • 0-3 months
  • 3-6 months
  • 6 months to 1 year
  • 1 year – 2 years
  • 2 years – 3 years
  • 3 years+
  • The manuscript has been around longer than I have.

Prior to selling your books, you were …

a stay-at-home mom.

Now that you’ve sold some books, you plan to …

I will still be a stay-at-home mom, but because my husband spends so many hours at school and studying, I will probably bring in some extra help.

What are some of the new things you worry about now that you have a contract?

I worry about earning out my advance; I think that is most authors’ top worry. Also, because I have a contract for four books and also three kids and a husband who is in law school right now and will go straight into his Ph.D after that, I worry about getting the other books finished! (Thank goodness for my mom and mom-in-law who love to help watch kids!) I also worry about my second book being up to snuff. I want every book to get better and hope I am up to the challenge.

If you’ve already begun or have finished the editorial process with your publishing house, let you us know what that’s been like.

It’s brutal. Really, it is. But it is SO worth it! I have never worked so hard on a book in my life as I worked on that first edit. I got an eleven page letter full of very broad, over-arching problems and although I could see how it was going to make the book so much stronger, it did make my stomach ache a little. But the results were astounding. I am looking forward to the next round!

Any advice for aspiring authors?

My number one piece of advice is to listen to critiques. You are never as good of a writer as you could be (unless you’re Neil Gaiman), and listening to critiques now will make that first editorial letter much more easy to swallow.

(Snoop says, AMEN to that! And you should REALLY listen if it’s a free-tique from the bunny himself!)

Any inspiring quotes you live by?

My quote is from the movie Keeping the Faith and it applies to all the areas of my life. “You cannot make a commitment unless you recognize that it is a choice you keep making again and again.”

Describe an Ah-ha moment you’ve had that influenced your writing in a positive way.

When I was revising my first book, I suddenly understood what people meant by head-hopping. (Yes, I’m a little slow.) When I saw how much more showing I could do (rather than telling) but keeping my third person POV limited, I just KNEW how much better the book was going to be. Third person limited is one of my best friends now.:)

What is one of the biggest myths in children’s book publishing that you wish aspiring writers would just forget about?

That first-time authors can’t get big/multi-book/high profile deals. It’s possible. Don’t expect it, but what the heck, reach for the stars!

Finally, Snoop wants to know: are any of your characters based upon real people? (Any lagomorphs maybe?)

Because I’m married, I’m always waiting for someone to ask if one of my heroes ( have two) looks like my husband. The answer is . . . sort of. 🙂 And to tell much more would spoil it!

This concludes our interview with our latest author, the amazing Aprilynne Pike. We wish Aprilynne much success with her debut novel WINGS and the forthcoming books in the series.

To see what Aprilynne’s up to these days, visit her website at or her blog at