Today I am very pleased to bring you an interview with a remarkable author- Schuyler J. Ebersol. I find the fact that this teen has already written a novel series very inspiring. That the books are themselves inspiring, is even better!
“Young author Schuyler J. Ebersol taps into his own extraordinary life experience for the release of The Hidden World: The Age of Tolerance Book 1 (Köehler Books). A native of Cornwall, Connecticut, Ebersol grew up with a passion for writing, but it was not until he was struck with a mysterious and extremely debilitating illness that his talent began to take flight. Weak and homebound, Ebersol was inspired to create an imaginary world to which he could escape from his physical ailments. His imagination did not fail him and The Hidden World was born.”
Schuyler J. Ebersol was kind enough to allow me to interview him about his writing experiences.
Schuyler J. Ebersol Interview:
I am really interested in your desire to write at a young age. I know that you began writing your new fiction series at 16, but at what age do you think you began to love writing? Was there one instance you can remember that sparked your love for it?
I grew up writing stories. I’d like to think that most children were writing stories as early as five and six. I went to a Montessori school where writing creatively was encouraged at a young age. At the age of eight I wrote a fifteen-page story about a snow leopard. I enjoyed writing throughout my childhood, but I only really started to love it when I could actually keep a story going, and that happened when I started writing the series. When I began it I thought it was just like everything else where I would write something short and nothing would come of it, but it just kept going. This love of writing coincided with an illness that struck me at the age of fifteen. Through writing I was able to lose myself in my world, a world independent from the daily struggles I faced. Writing kept me going through the darkest of times.
The quest to actually write a novel and get published came after I had written the Hidden World, but my inspiration came earlier. I was introduced to Mary Pope Osborne, author of the beloved Magic Tree House series, when I was around ten years old and have garnered a close friendship with her ever since. My friendship with Mary provided me with a writing mentor, someone I could aspire to become.
Do you have any suggestions for kids who are starting to write but don’t know if they can really do it?
When I started to write, I didn’t know if I could really do it. I didn’t know until I did it, and now I’m five books in. There is no way to know if you have the potential. If you are creative and hardworking, then you probably do. My suggestion is just to write. Eventually the right story will take hold. Most importantly, enjoy it, that’s what’s great about writing.
What helped you to become a better writer? Did you have a great editor, mentor, class, or resource that you used?
The first draft of my novel was by no-means well written. I edited it personally right after finishing it, but this edit corrected a few grammar and spelling errors and added ten pages. Through my friendship with Mary Pope Osborne I was able to get notes on my novel from an editor at Scholastic, Nick. Nick gave me some great notes, which inspired me to actually re-write the novel for the first time about a year after beginning it. He didn’t actually give me page by page notes, but sent me a four page summary of his thoughts. In two weeks I re-wrote the novel and added a hundred pages. After submitting it to editors through my agent, Leticia Gomez, for a year, we decided it should get a formal edit and hired Deborah at A-1 Editing Service. She did a fantastic page-by-page line edit and I have used her since, for a separate novel. It was this version of the novel that was eventually picked up by Koehler books. It went through significant edits with them as well. Mary was also a great mentor to me. Although she didn’t give me notes, we spoke often about our writing and the worlds we had created which certainly helped develop my ideas and keep me enthused.
Not until I had written 4 novels did I take a class with Dr. McGoldrick at Litchfield high school my senior year. He has become an excellent mentor for my work as well. Dr. McGoldrick is himself a published author alongside his wife and we have developed a great relationship.
I also developed a great relationship with Professor Marchant, a beloved English teacher at Hotchkiss who has since retired. When I was at my worst health-wise, he came over once a week and worked with me on my writing for an hour, simply out of the goodness of his heart. I loved those weekly sessions. We read some of the great American works, and he helped edit my work as well. I will always be thankful for the time he took out of his week to work with me.
How did you decide to take the leap from writing to publishing?
Publishing was the logical next step. I wasn’t impressed by what was on the market for young adult males after Harry Potter, so I wrote what I wanted to read. I assumed that boys my age weren’t to enthused either, so I thought I should get my novel out there. There was no real leap. I immediately began trying to get an agent after completing my first novel. I want my work out there, I don’t want it to be seen only by my family and me.
Do you have any tips for other kids who may one day like to become published?
Be patient. Everyone says this, but in the publishing game it is key. It took me eight months to get an agent. It took me a year and a half after that to get a publishing offer. Publishing is slow. Submit to everyone, you never know who might pick up your work. There will be a ton of criticism and rejection, don’t let it affect you personally, but consider it and use it to make your work better.
I know your new book is titled, THE HIDDEN WORLD: THE AGE OF TOLERANCE BOOK 1. I assume this means there are more coming and how many? Have you written them yet?
I have completed five novels. The first is the Hidden World and the second is its sequel. The series will be composed of five books, but I have only written the first two. All my other novels are unrelated and of varying topics. I have begun writing the third book in the series, but I am currently focusing on school and writing at my whim, which has always worked best for me.
How much forethought to you give to the story of the book before you start writing? Does it unfold as you go or is it planned out first?
I give no forethought. I am either struck by an idea and immediately start writing, or I just starting writing and the idea unfolds. I don’t even know how the book will end until I’m at least a hundred pages into it. I draw up a very rough plan at that point, literally a sentence a chapter, and I generally stick to that, but it changes a good amount. I don’t really plan. I watch the story in my head as it happens. I see it at the exact same time I’m writing and I write what I see. That is another reason I love it, because it’s just as exciting writing the book as for a reader to read it.
Thanks so much to Schuyler J. Ebersol for taking the time to answer my questions. I am sure he will inspire many more young writers to pursue their passion and I know my daughter will want to read his book, The Hidden World!