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questions and answers. part one.

So I got all excited after my last post because I thought I’d figured out how to reply to each individual comment, and away I went replying, and then when it posted I realized they all just went straight to the end of the comment chain. Urgh. I will keep trying. I’m sorry about that!

And, before I get into the Q & A, I also want to let you know that Kirsten Miller, the lovely author of the New York Times Bestselling The Eternal Ones, is hosting me on her blog this week (THANK YOU, KIRSTEN).

And away we go with the questions and answers (and thanks to everyone for the great questions)…

Karenof 4 asked: As a mother and wife, how do YOU balance all your life responsibilities with writing? I’m always interested in learning how other moms do it. Thank you!

I’ve answered some of this before in A Conversation On: Writing with Small Children (which you can find if you click on the categories for this post), but the answer is really just this: not well. I take care of my kids all day. I try to write about 3-4 hours each night (or during naptime). Other than that, it’s just sort of putting out fires all the time. The house is a mess, I’m scattered and the people in my neighborhood think I’m crazy, etc. Karen, I’m sorry. I don’t know if that answer is helpful or not. I would love to have more balance but I’m beginning to wonder if that will ever happen.

Lynsey asked: Have you got the ideas all mapped out for the next 2 books in the Matched trilogy or are you working it out as you write? I’m interested to know if you sat down to write Matched and knew exactly what was going to happen from start to finish from the get-go or whether you’re making it up as you go along.

Thanks for the question, Lynsey! While I don’t do a formal outline, I keep a folder of notes about the books that I add to constantly. So I always have lots of ideas about where I want the series to go, but until I write it out completely, things could change (except for about 20 key plot points that I’ve had in mind for the series since I knew it was going to be a series). Book Two is in revision. I have about 100 pages of Book 3 written that I’m sure I’ll have to rethink and rewrite. So…I am kind of making it up and I also kind of know where I’m going. Does that make sense?

Sue Bowman asks: Will you be doing any book signings anywhere NW Arkansas? If not I would like to purchase Matched signed but not surewhere or if that is possible.

Sue, that is really awesome of you. We don’t have any plans right now for NW Arkansas or anywhere very near, but I think I will be signing stock at The King’s English (a great independent bookstore here in Utah) on December 4th. I think you can order books from them if you call. I’ve linked to their site over on the Events page. I hope that helps!

Remilda Graystone asks: As for my question, What was the most surprising thing to happen to you after Matched was snatched up by a publisher? And what’s the most exhausting thing about being a published author? Also, I don’t know if you answered this in a post–that I have missed, if you did–but where did the idea come from?

The most surprising thing has been all of it. The attention the book received. The fact that it got starred reviews from Kirkus and Publishers Weekly. The fact that people are talking about it! It’s all a bit surreal.

The most exhausting thing about being a published author is making sure you get the writing done and that it’s the best it can be, while still doing everything you can to promote the book (social networking, etc., which I am terrible at but try to do).

As for where the idea came from: Matched was inspired by several experiences—specific ones, like a conversation with my husband, chaperoning a high school prom, and listening to my pharmacist brother-in-law talk about drugs and pharmaceuticals—and general ones, like falling in love and becoming a parent. The catalyst was a conversation I had with my husband that helped me bring all these things together.

Karen St. Louis asks: There’s been a lot of buzz about Matched, and I’m wondering whether that’s making you feel like you’re under pressure to perform well as you write the sequel(s.) And if so, does that sort of pressure stimulate you or intimidate you? (Hope that’s not too personal.)

No, it’s not too personal, and absolutely I feel pressure. Which is why I’m really excited that I’ve written so much of Books 2 and 3 before Book 1 even hits. It’s nice to have things set out on paper in advance. But, I am also a bit of a “bring it on” kind of person. Not in that I’m confrontational or that I like to get in people’s faces–I am not into that at all–but I do like to challenge myself. Most of my motivation is internal. I am always my own harshest critic. If the pressure is getting to me, it’s usually something a good long run can fix. (Thanks again, Coach Corry!)

Emy Shin asks: How long does it take for you to start a project after you get the initial idea?

I usually start right away by writing some notes. Those notes might sit for a while. But I usually want to capitalize on that first rush by writing a page or two of a scene I think could be in the book, or a conversation between characters, etc.

Sara B. Larson asks: As for a question… how about… what’s your favorite meal that DH makes for you?

This is a tough one. He is a great cook. Right now I’d say tikka masala and sour lemon cream pie (this is what I requested for my birthday dinner this year and it rocked).

Ruth asks: I keep hearing about how stressful it is when you get an agent and/or get published. So my question: Is it worth it? I love writing but I wonder if some of the joy is gone when you are under so much pressure.

Getting an agent actually made my life much less stressful because she is so amazing–and because it feels like you’ve been writing alone for a long time and now you have someone who is on your team. I love it. As for the publication part, I guess I don’t totally know. I’ve loved being published before with my smaller publisher. And I am already loving my current publisher. It is totally worth it, from where I stand right now.

Jen Bigheart asked (in an earlier post): LOVED Matched! Can’t wait for the rest of the world to read. Any plans to come to TX? TLA in April?

Jen, thank you! And there might be something in the works for TX in April. So keep an eye on the Events page. 😉

And the question that started it all from Karen: So I’m curious – did you ever have moments when you were writing Matched or its sequel when you DID feel like you were writing “the worst book ever,” or were you more confident with these books all along?

Since I’ve written five books before Matched, I did feel more confident. That isn’t to say I didn’t have plenty of seesaw moments like you described, or that it was all easy. But Matched was really, really fun to write for the most part.

And that’s it for now. I’m on my booksellers’ tea tour (to Chicago, Nashville, Philadelphia, and Boston) this week, but I’m still posting over on Throwing Up Words tomorrow. I’ll see you there! And I hope you’re all having excellent Novembers.

+ comments (7)
  • Remilda Graystone
    November 9, 2010

    This was fun. Thanks for answering our questions! And I hope you’re having an excellent November as well.

  • Lisa Owens
    November 9, 2010

    Hi Ally!

    This is Lisa from the “married” ward at BYU (can’t remember the name). We were visiting teaching companions. I just was so happy to find your website and realize that, Allyson Braithwaite Condie was indeed the same Ally Condie I knew! I just wanted to congratulate you on the success with the books . I hope you and your family are well, and I’m excited to read, “Matched”!

  • Karen_St_Louis
    November 9, 2010

    Thanks for answering everyone’s questions, Ally. I’m glad to hear that you’re a “bring it on” sort of person! (My husband is a university professor and he’s always lamenting the fact that his students don’t have enough internal motivation…)

  • Shari
    November 10, 2010

    Fun Q & A, Ally! It was fun to hear about your life and your story. Congrats again on all of your success! You rock!

  • Emy Shin (Sandy)
    November 12, 2010

    I’m crossing my fingers for TX — I’d love to attend one of your signings if I could. :]

  • Nathalia
    August 1, 2011

    Hi Ally,

    I loved your book “Matched”, it was amazing!

    I started reading a preview in Amazon.com, I read 3 chapters, just then I decided to buy the book. The problem was that as I live in Peru I had to wait 4 days if I ordered it through Amazon cuz I don’t know places in Lima where I can get a book in English. So, I bought it in Spanish. I loved reading the book in both languages, but, I noticed the translation was not “perfect”, what I imagined reading it in English had lots of differences with what I imagined reading it in Spanish. I felt different, some words feel different in both languages cuz for example it’s not the same thing saying “I love you” than “te quiero”, “te quiero” is nearly nothing. I hope you understand that I mean. Another thing is that I found lots of grammar mistakes or typing mistakes, I don’t know what to call them, just give them a check. That’s all! Sorry for the critiques! I’m waiting for “Crossed” hope to get it in English this time!

    Best wishes!

  • Josephina
    December 14, 2012

    Sorry if my question is rude, but I’m doing an author study at school and i chose to read your books(Matched and Crossed, reading Reached soon). I was just wondering, do you have a religion you practice or used to practice?

    Thank you!

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