• Ava January

Questions to ask an Author - Kaneana May

Updated: Feb 11

Welcome to my first Author Spotlight post!

I noticed recently that a lot of my conversations around publishing, writing, and inspiration are really circular – me and my unpublished friends seem to be talking about the same things. I thought- wouldn’t it be magnificent if there were some way to connect my fellow authors-in-training with published authors and have all the questions in the same place? I know first-hand how open and sharing the writing community is and I knew if I put the call out, I would find many generous and willing souls to inspire and educate us on our publishing journeys – thus, the Author Spotlight has been born!

Earlier this year I attended the RWA (Romance Writers of Australia) annual conference in Melbourne. For those that don’t know, one of the main drawcards of the conference is the face-to-face pitching appointments with publishers and agents! I spent hours trawling the interwebs for any information on how to “win publishers and influence agents” (that, my friend, is another blog post. By someone else because I have no idea how to do it!) but as total newbie I was having kittens! Kaneana May very kindly offered to help run through someone else’s pitch with them in a facebook group and I shamelessly jumped in and asked her to help me too. Luckily for me, Kaneana is one of the nicest people you will ever meet and happily gave up some of her precious time to run through my pitch via skype. By the time my pitches rolled around I was feeling confident in my script, and received a request for full manuscripts from all my pitches!

So, without further ado, Kaneana May!

· What made you choose the genre you write in?

When I started writing my first manuscript, it fell into the Young Adult genre. I had been a reader of YA for years and was drawn those kinds of stories. After I finished that manuscript, I started another. This time I tackled the New Adult genre (my characters had just left high school). And then once I finished that manuscript, I had the idea for The One. It felt like a natural progression to tackle Commercial Women’s Fiction/ Life Lit (or whatever genre you’d like to call it). I’m not sure whether I was simply writing ‘older’ on each manuscript as I became older myself, as I don’t remember it ever being a conscious decision of what genre to write but rather the spark of a new idea…

· How long did it take you to write your first book?

It took me eighteen months to write The One, but I wasn’t consciously aware of the timeframe while writing it. Once I had gotten the publishing deal, I went back to find when I had started that very first document.

· How long did it take you to get your first book published?

I think I’d actively been trying to get published for about eight years before it happened. The two manuscripts that I wrote before The One had plenty of rejections. I had sent those into slush piles but for The One I decided that I wanted to pitch to publishers and held onto it for over six months before I had the chance. In the end, it was the right decision as I heard back from my publisher less than six weeks after I’d pitched to say that she was interested.

· The best writing tip you ever received?

I often think about something I heard Rachael Johns say. I can’t remember the particular words she used but the general idea was that writing is really hard and if you can give it up, you should … because those of us who really want to be a writer won’t be able to give it up. The ideas will bubble away, and you’ll find yourself reaching for a pen or wanting to tap away at the keyboard.

· Any advice for the unpublished/querying author?

My biggest tip would probably be, to ‘just keep at it’. Don’t give up on your dreams. Of course, there are going to be days when you feel disillusioned about your writing, but believe in yourself. Do courses, go to writers’ festivals and make connections with other aspiring writers online. All these elements help develop skills and allow you to know that you’re not alone in your longing for publication. In the end, be stubborn – don’t give up until you’ve made your dream a reality!

You can buy/download The One here

Kanaena May can be found:

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