AgentInbox Success Story #108:15
WEbooker and aspiring author Corey_Whaley (John Corey Whaley in the real world) submitted his YA novel to an agent through AgentInbox in October. In a few short days, one of our participating agents requested a full manuscript and by the end of the week, he had signed on with a prominent literary agent! Corey_Whaley, a middle school English teacher from Louisiana, wrote WEbook an email: "My life just changed." To find out more about this YA novelist, WEbook asked him a few random and not-so-random questions.
What was the inspiration for your novel? How long have you been working on it?
I originally came up with the idea for Good God Bird sometime in 2005 after hearing an interesting piece about the small town of Brinkley, Arkansas, on National Public Radio. The story was about the possible re-emergence of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker in the woods near the town, and included interviews with townspeople as well as an original song composed in honor of the bird by singer/songwriter Sufjan Stevens (which struck my original interest in the story). The story went through several phases over a two-year span after that. I re-worked it and re-worked it, but never got much done until the summer of 2007. It was a few weeks after my first year of teaching public school English that I decided to finish the novel. With only about 16 pages or so, I cranked out the rest of the novel in June and the first part of July of 2007. I wrote most of the novel on my laptop while camping at a lake in Arkansas.
What's the single most important thing you've learned as a writer?
I've learned to be patient and to let ideas come to me. I used to try and force myself to write, but now I just wait until I have one of those cathartic moments that forces me to drop everything and write. No more staring endlessly at flashing cursors for me.
What is the last argument you got into?
I had a small, silly argument over the pronunciation of cacophony the other night. We agreed to disagree.
How does writing fit into the rest of your life?
now, it's hard to find time to write because I teach middle school
English and have just recently started getting involved in community
theater here in town. But, when I get a good idea, I try to fit in
time on nights and weekends. Sometimes, when I get especially stressed
at work, I will write things at my desk while my students are busy
working. It sometimes makes for good distraction therapy.
When life gets hectic, what are you most likely to let slide?
When life gets especially hectic, I will let laundry pile up to embarrassing heights.
What was the first story you ever wrote?
mother found this story --- we think it's from first grade. It was in my
handwriting and the teacher wrote "very good story" at the top.
Raccoon was a nice doctor. But, one day, a red fox came in. The red
fox was a nice fox, but one day he came in and said "Dr. Raccoon,
Where are you?" Then, he saw a red sign that said "No Foxes."
Corey, a huge congratulations from WEbook! This journey will no doubt be unforgettable.