Today, I welcome a special guest to my blog: author, Alexandra Ott, who is a member of the Swanky Seventeens group of authors whose debut books are releasing in 2017. Not only that, but Alex is one of my closest Critique Partners, so I am delighted to be chatting to her about her MG Fantasy, RULES FOR THIEVES, a book I had not only the pleasure of reading, but also helping to name!
Coming Summer 2017 from Aladdin (Simon & Schuster)
Twelve-year-old orphan Alli tries to join a legendary band of thieves in order to get the cure for the curse that’s killing her.
- Tell us a little about your journey to your publishing deal.
I first wrote Rules for Thieves in the summer of 2012. Revising it took a while because I was in school at the time, but I finally started querying in late 2013. I spent 2014 revising and querying some more. In early 2015, I signed with my agent and went out on submission. We received an offer from Aladdin in the summer of 2015, about three years after I wrote the first draft!
- What was the on-submission time like for you?
It actually went by much faster than I thought it would! I knew that the submission process could take a year or more, so I wasn’t expecting to receive an offer so quickly. When my agent first told me there was an offer, I almost didn’t believe it.
- What inspired or led you to start writing the plot of RULES FOR THIEVES?
I was inspired by the kinds of stories I loved as a kid. I always really liked heist novels and fantasy books, and I also loved to invent adventure stories and games that I played with my sister. All of those things came together to become Rules for Thieves, which is really an attempt at writing a book I would have loved to read when I was younger.
- Has the novel changed much between your first draft and this current draft?
Yes, quite a bit. The first draft was much shorter, and several crucial elements of the book didn’t exist yet. Much of my revision process has been developing and deepening that initial story. I’ve added more than 15,000 words between the first draft and the current one.
- What has been the toughest part of writing RULES FOR THIEVES?
The revision process has been a long one, and there were definitely times when I was so tired of reading it again and again that I just wanted to stop working on it. But there was something about this story and these characters that compelled me to keep working—that, and the encouragement of my awesome critique partners. 😉
- What is your favourite part of main character, Alli’s personality? Do you think she is like you?
I love how smart and funny Alli is. On the surface, she isn’t much like me at all. She’s snarky, outspoken, impulsive, and daring—all of which I love about her, but none of which is very much like me. But we do have a few things in common, namely impatience and stubbornness!
- Why did you decide on a duology, rather than the more common trilogy and stand alones?
I knew early on that it was going to be a series, but I didn’t know how long it was going to be. Eventually, I realized that two books would be the best fit for the story arcs that I have in mind—three books would be stretching the story too thin, and one wasn’t enough to give Alli the resolution that I wanted for her.
- Tell us one thing we can look forward to in the sequel.
There’s not much I can share without spoilers, but let’s just say there will be sinister plots and spies and characters who are more than they appear…
- Are you more drawn to writing YA or MG and why? RULES FOR THIEVES is MG, but I know you are also working on YA fiction.
I think I’m drawn to both categories equally. I love the sense of adventure and wonder that comes with MG, but I also love going a little older with YA. It’s nice to be able to take a break from one story and work on something that’s completely different. And I love writing both preteen and teenage protagonists—both ages are endlessly fascinating to me and have so much potential for storytelling.
- Is this your first novel, or are there some in drawers that you never want to see again?
I have two novel-length manuscripts in drawers, plus some shorter fiction. They were really important manuscripts that taught me how to write, but they’re not ever going to see the light of day!
Hehe, I know the feeling! Thanks for joining me, Alex, and I can’t wait to get my paws on a copy of the finished product!
Interested in learning more about RULES FOR THIEVES or Alex? Check out her updates on social media:
About the Author
Alexandra Ott writes middle grade and young adult fiction. Her debut middle grade fantasy novel Rules for Thieves will be published by Aladdin/S&S in summer 2017.
Alex graduated from the University of Tulsa, where she studied English. She is currently an editorial intern at Entangled Publishing. In her spare time, she plays the flute, eats a lot of chocolate, and reads just about everything. She lives in Oklahoma with her tiny canine overlord. She is repped by Victoria Doherty Munro of Writers House.