CITY OF A THOUSAND DOLLS by Miriam Forster (February 5, 2013, HarperTeen)
And now, here is Miriam!
PJHoover: You’ve run into an old classmate from high school and you tell them CITY OF A THOUSAND DOLLS just came out. They ask what it’s about. What do you say?
MiriamF: A girl in a caste-based society who has to solve a murder. It’s a poor description, but I’m really bad at summarizing my own books. :)
PJHoover: I love hearing happy publication stories. Can you tell us the path to publication for CITY OF A THOUSAND DOLLS?
MiriamF: Gosh, it’s a pretty simple story really. Girl writes book. Girl revises book and sends book out to agents. Girl gets rejections. Girl writes another book, revises first book and sends it out again. Girl gets more rejections. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Two years and four books later… Girl completely tears first book apart and rewrites it. On the last very submission before the book gets shelved, she finds an agent who loves it. Revisions ensue. Agent finds an editor who loves it, but wants some revisions before offering. Revisions ensue again. Book gets sold. Girl flails. A LOT. Much editing ensues.
Eighteen months later, girl holds final book in her hands. Girl cries, but is also happy because SHE NEVER HAS TO EDIT THIS BOOK AGAIN.
The end. :)
PJHoover: I love the world of CITY and how it feels so parallel to cultures in our own world. Can you tell us what your various inspirations for the settings, cultures, and characters were?
MiriamF: Most of the setting, like the teak forest, the weapons, and the food, is based on South Asia and certain things, like the asars, the caste system, and the different kinds of bowing are specifically drawn from India. There are a handful of details that I borrowed from Japan, like folding fans and the nobles using poems to communicate. The part-animal, part human Sune were also inspired by the Japanese legends of the kitsune. The abandonment and disregard for girls is, sadly, a very common phenomenon all over the world.
PJHoover: There are tons of books out there. What are five awesome reasons why CITY OF A THOUSAND DOLLS should be the one for them to read?
- Talking cats
- Political intrigue
- A woman who can turn into a fox
PJHoover: If the apocalypse came, would you still find a way to write? If yes, then how and why?
MiriamF: I think if the apocalypse came, I’d move to oral storytelling. Paper’s too fragile, and while pens are good for stabbing people with in a pinch, I’d rather save the room for something more effective. But telling stories out loud, around a fire, that’s part of what makes us human beings and I don’t see that going away even if the apocalypse happened.
PJHoover: When it comes to marketing, what do you think makes the biggest difference in whether a book is successful?
MiriamF: Everyone wants to create that elusive “word of mouth” that makes books into bestsellers. But no one really knows how to do it. I think the really vital things are: a good cover, good distribution, and a well-edited, readable book. You should also have some sort of updateable website for info.
After that, it comes down to what the author can do comfortably and genuinely. There’s nothing worse than trying to be friends with someone online who’s only there because they think they have to be. Unless it’s trying to be friends with someone who only ever talks about their book. I think it’s important to contribute to the conversation and be able to give something back to the online community. But if you can’t bring yourself to do that, don’t despair. The most important thing you can do to help your book succeed is to write a stellar second book. (And then a third one, and a forth one, etc.)
PJHoover: Finish this sentence, and tell us why. Writing is a lot like…
MiriamF: Cooking stew. You put a little bit of this and a little bit of that, let it simmer and then you pour it into a word document. And sometimes, you have to scrape the bottom of the pot and it’s annoying and painful and leaves you feeling hollowed out and empty. But then people eat it your stew and like it and you’re happy again.
PJHoover: What is next? WIPs? Future publications? Please tell all!
MiriamF: I have the companion book to City of a Thousand Dolls, set in the same world with some of the same characters. (That’s coming in 2014.) And I’m working on a Secret Middle Grade project that may or may not be sellable. We shall see!
PJHoover: What has been your favorite experience as an author thus far?
MiriamF: I got to do a little 20 minute signing at the Pacific Northwest Bookseller’s Association fall tradeshow last year. It was right around the time that ARCs had come out and I got to sign books and talk to booksellers. It was amazing. There are so many kind and brilliant and passionate people in the book world. It makes me happy to be a part of it.
PJHoover: Please share your favorite inspirational thought!
MiriamF: Feel the fear and do it anyway. I’m a naturally anxious person and I worry a lot. It’s important to me that I not let those fears and worries affect what I do. I can’t always choose my emotions, but I can choose my actions.
PJHoover: Thank you so much for being here!
MiriamF: Thank you for having me!
About the book:
The girl with no past, and no future, may be the only one who can save their lives.
Nisha was abandoned at the gates of the City of a Thousand Dolls when she was just a little girl. Now sixteen, she lives on the grounds of the isolated estate, where orphan girls apprentice as musicians, healers, courtesans, and, if the rumors are true, assassins. She makes her way as Matron's errand girl, her closest companions the mysterious cats that trail her shadow. Only when she begins a forbidden flirtation with the city's handsome young courier does she let herself imagine a life outside the walls. Until one by one, girls around her start to die.
Before she becomes the next victim, Nisha decides to uncover the secrets that surround the girls' deaths. But by getting involved, Nisha jeopardizes not only her own future in the City of a Thousand Dolls—but also her life.
Miriam Forster learned to read at the age of five, wrote her first story at the age of seven and has been playing with words ever since.
In real life Miriam is a recovering barista, a terrible housekeeper and a bit of a hermit. But in her mind she’s a deadly international assassin-ninja AND a fantastic dancer. When Miriam isn’t writing, she plots out fight scenes, obsesses about anthropology, nature shows and British television, and reads far too much. CITY OF A THOUSAND DOLLS is her debut novel.
P. J. Hoover is the author of the upcoming dystopia/mythology YA book, SOLSTICE (Tor Teen, June 2013), the upcoming Egyptian mythology MG book, TUT (Tor Children's, Winter 2014), and the middle-grade SFF series, THE FORGOTTEN WORLDS BOOKS (CBAY, 2008-2010). You can read more about her and her books on P. J.'s website or blog.