C. G. Drews
C.G. Drews's debut YA novel, A THOUSAND PERFECT NOTES, will be published in the UK by Orchard in June 2018. It is the harrowing, ultimately hopeful, story of a teenage boy torn between his abusive, mentally ill mother and realising his own, secret, dreams. Her second novel, also YA, will follow in June 2019.
C.G. Drews lives in Australia with her dog, a piano, and the goal of reading every book in existence. Consequently, her brain has overflowed with words and she spends her days writing novel after novel. She blogs at paperfury.com, never sleeps, and believes in cake for breakfast.
When and how did you start writing?
When I was twelve, my little sister started writing and stapling together her own stories. She received far too much attention, so naturally I joined in. I completed my first full-length novel at fifteen and was officially in love with the magical feeling of creating worlds.
Can you remember the first book that made an impact on you? Who were your childhood storytelling heroes?
I spent my childhood surrounded by bookshelves and I’m sure that is to be blamed for my love of writing. I also had audiobooks of the CHRONICLES OF NARNIA by CS Lewis on repeat. All the time. I’m sure my family loved it and didn’t gently want to smother me. Eventually I was lured away from Narnia into Lemony Snicket’s A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS, which I also listened to on audio. On repeat. (At least I’m consistent in the way I show my love?) I also adored authors like Beverly Cleary and Katherine Patterson and all four million of those ‘Boxcar Children’ books. (Okay slight exaggeration. I’m sure there are only three million of them.)
Can you talk us through the writing of your first book? What were the key moments?
It took me years and tears to write my first book. But I’m a stubborn thing and sixteen books worth of practise later, I wrote the novel that will be my debut. I wrote it in a week and then spent several months editing before nervously presenting it to the world. It was inspired by my love of classical music and secret goal of having a Steinway piano.
Was it hard to get an agent? Can you talk us through the process?
I researched agents meticulously, wrote dozens of drafts of the query letter (arguably the hardest part of the writer’s life), and then queried for around ten months. Greenhouse plucked me out of the slush pile and gave me my first offer of representation. To which I shouted yes! Well, I shouted yes at my family and then quietly and professionally (I hope) emailed yes back to Polly Nolan.
Describe your writing day. Where do you write? How do you organize your time? Where do you look for inspiration?
I’m a writing sprinter, so I will write intensely for 7+ hours a day for a week – and then I’ll take several months off. In my ‘off’ times, I invent, plot, and research new novel ideas very thoroughly (and waste time on Twitter, let’s be honest here). My inspiration comes from everywhere! I listen to music, immerse myself in magical books, go for walks, and steal interesting experiences from my family. I’m sure they just love that. I have a lovely desk for writing at that I never use and instead I write in bed with a gorgeous view of a koala reserve behind my house.
Are there any tips you could give aspiring writers who are looking to get published?
Don’t compare yourself to other writers. Be yourself. Learn how to edit. Don’t sit there refreshing your inbox while querying (not speaking from experience of course), get started on your next book. Read and read and read. Don’t be afraid to write difficult books. Take advice from a few trusted people, not everyone. Always, always keep daydreaming.
Which favourite authors would you invite to a dinner party? Which fictional character do you wish you'd invented?
If I was surrounded by my favourite authors, I would no doubt end up sitting there like a stunned fish who is unable to form a coherent phrase ever again. But I will forever admire the masters who are Maggie Stiefvater, V.E. Schwab, John Green, Leigh Bardugo, and Jennifer Niven.
And I secretly wish I’d invented Narnia. Or that, well, I could just live in Narnia. I keep checking the back of my wardrobe but it appears to be broken?