Author Spotlight: Rosiee Thor
Oct. 4, 2019
We are excited to feature author Rosiee Thor and her debut YA novel, TARNISHED ARE THE STARS (Scholastic Press), out Oct. 15, 2019. Enter to win a copy!
Jacket art @2019 by Vault 49
Jacket design by Ya a Jaskolly
Tell us about yourself and how you came to write for teens.
When I was a teen myself, YA books didn't really appeal to me. Most of them were about high school, and I was more of an escapist reader, so I read a lot of Big Adult Fantasy books instead. I didn't really come to YA until I was in college. That's when I picked up The Hunger Games. Katniss was something incredibly special to me, even though I didn't fully understand why at the time, and reading her story catapulted me into the wonderful world of YA books. For the first time, I really felt like I could relate to the characters I was reading about--because they were in the midst of trying to figure out who they were, just like me--so when it came to my writing, I think it was natural for me to gravitate toward YA. It meant I got to write the kinds of books I'd never had as a teen when I needed them most.
Congrats on your debut YA novel, TARNISHED ARE THE STARS! Tell us about it and what inspired you.
Thank you! TARNISHED ARE THE STARS is about three queer teenagers--an outlaw, a nobleman, and a spy--who all come from different social spheres and they must work together to save their planet from a deadly epidemic of heart disease. It's about who we are because of how we're raised, and who we become despite it because of the choices we make. Tarnished is near and dear to my heart (pun intended), but it wasn't always. This book went through many transformations that brought it closer and closer to me and my identity and in a lot of ways this book is what made it possible for me to understand my identity and, ultimately, come out as a queer person.
The initial inspiration for this book was honestly something random--"surgery, but make it glam!"--but as I rewrote and reworked this book over and over again, the inspirations changed too. Looking back, as odd and self-absorbed as it might sound, the inspiration for this book was really my own journey to identity, whether or not I knew it at the time.
Was your road to publication long and winding, short and sweet, or something in between?
Both, in a sense. I wrote the first draft of Tarnished in 2013 and I can say with certainty that it barely resembles the published version (although the first page or so has changed much). I did eleven full rewrites (and I mean rewrites, not just tweaking word choice here and there) between that first draft and the final published version, eight of them before landing an agent.
I did a lot of floundering and rethinking the plot before I got into PitchWars in 2016. With my mentor's help, I was able to whip the book into shape and I got an agent a few months later. I was on submission for about six months before we got the offer from Scholastic. It was another six months before we were able to announce the news, and, let me tell you, that second six months of waiting to announce was a lot more grueling than the first six months on sub. I'd say my pub journey has been fairly average, with a pretty quick sub (six months is nothing) but some slowness on either side of it.
What projects are you working on now?
I can't share many details, but I will say that everything I have in the works is extremely queer and extremely personal. I can't wait to share more soon!
What are some of your recent favorite YA picks?
WILDER GIRLS! WILDER GIRLS! WILDER GIRLS! by Rory Power. I will never ever stop screaming about this beautiful gut punch of a book. It's about girlhood and messy emotions and survival. It spoke directly to a very raw part of me and I can't wait to reread it over and over again!
I also really loved THE BONE HOUSES by Emily Lloyd Jones. It has such a haunting yet heartfelt vibe. It combined a deep, immersive, woodsy atmosphere with zombies, and honestly I was hooked from page one.
What are the one or two best things you did for your writing career? Is this the same advice you'd give to aspiring authors?
The best thing I did for my writing career--or maybe just for myself--was to make a separate email address for publishing related stuff. Originally, this email address was for querying only and I didn't add it to my phone. That way, I had to manually check it on a computer, and I wouldn't jump every time my phone email notification went off. Once I got an agent, that email address was only for her, and then when I got an editor and publicist, for them too. To this day, the only people who have that email address are my agent and people at my publisher. It really helps me manage my publishing anxiety, especially when I'm waiting on news, and I would highly recommend any aspiring author do this before they start querying.
What is one thing most people don't know about you?
I'm a knitter! I don't have a lot of artistic talents, but I'm a powerhouse knitter. I'm totally self taught (I started when I was twelve) and I love to make pride flag hats or scarves that match my friends book covers.
Where can people find you online?
You can find me at www.rosieethor.com or on twitter @rosieethor