Author Interview: Cynthea Liu on AuthorsNow!

Cynthea Liu is the author of S.A.S.S. The Great Call of China (Puffin/Speak, Feb. 2009) and Paris Pan Takes the Dare (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, June 2009). Read an interview with Cynthea from Writing for Children & Teens.

What is your relationship to AuthorsNow! – The Internet’s Largest Collaboration of Debut Children’s and Teen Book Authors and Illustrators?

I’m the founder of AuthorsNow! That means I am head webmistress, chief administration support person, financial operator, publicity chairperson, and author slave-driver!

What was the initial inspiration for creating the site?

AuthorsNow! evolved from other group efforts such as The Classes (interview), Debut 2009 (interview), and The Tenners.

I myself am a Debut 2009 member, and I love the atmosphere our group creates for middle grade and YA authors, as well as fans of children’s and teen fiction.

But as you know, there is still more ground to cover; why not build something for everyone?

Now all debut authors of major trade publishers can showcase their books, while offering a valuable resource to parents, teachers, librarians, booksellers, reviewers, and other children’s book enthusiasts. I love that AuthorsNow! members are from every debut group, every class, every genre, and every year (beginning with 2009).

Does AuthorsNow! only feature content from debut authors?

While our book profiles are restricted to debut members, we plan to feature any content related to children’s and teen books that is useful for parents, teachers, librarians, booksellers, and book reviewers.

Got an article for teachers on how to hold a successful author visit? Know the ins and outs of using historical fiction in the classroom? Or maybe you have a method for culling out the best boy books to recommend to children.

If you’ve got the right content, we’d be happy to feature it on AuthorsNow!, crediting you and any relevant links. We receive thousands of visits each month, so don’t miss this opportunity. Email with your ideas. We can’t pay, but we can promise you great exposure to our audience and a nice writing credit.

How did you get AuthorsNow! started?

It was fairly straightforward. “Does anyone want to join? I’ll build the site; you give me the content.” Debut authors caught on to the idea quickly. And now new authors are joining every day, giving our audience what they want to see–more debut books! Currently, we are 110 members strong. Don’t ask me where we’ll be next month!

What features does the site include?

· Book profiles–the meat-and-potatoes of the site. They’re organized so that you can find books by selecting multiple criteria including genre, age group, topic, author name, author location–the list goes on.

· Dynamic author map. You can look for a local author, and with one click, see what age group they write for, the title of their book, the genre and much more.

· Contest alerts. Giveaways include signed books, gift certificates, even a whole classroom set of books!

· Columns like debut author Olugbemisola Rhuday Perkovich’s “Faves on a Friday,” offering food for thought about interesting topics in the children’s and teen book world.

I truly hope AuthorsNow! will become a one-stop-resource for everything you need to know about debut authors, their books, and then some!

What plans are on the horizon?

In the coming weeks, we’re bringing new content features online.

· Author Spotlight. We’ll celebrate debut launches with a Spotlight interview specifically designed to help readers understand how an author’s book differs from the rest. Spotlights are often accompanied with a fun giveaway.

· Connect. Through freestyle blogging, our authors will share more than the typical book jacket and author bio, helping readers connect with our authors’ individual personalities.

· Movie-style ratings for member books from PG to R. Can’t tell a clean YA from a saucy one? Our ratings will help.

· Supplemental content such as quizzes and discussion guides. As the material becomes available, you bet that’ll be up on AuthorsNow!

· Original articles from readers like you. Email

Is AuthorsNow! just a marketing site?

No. I have a strict policy about the site becoming a free-for-all, “Look at me, look at me!” kind of place. Our members know they should tap their boundless creativity to keep it interesting and valuable for our audience.

We also go beyond the functions of an ordinary website. Collectively, we can form panels and workshops for schools, libraries, festivals and conferences.

Are you looking for something in particular? Just contact us and we’ll tap our membership to give you what you’re seeking.

Our mission is clear. AuthorsNow! strives to be a fabulous resource, not just a sales pitch.

Obviously, with such a big group, you can’t mention everyone. But could you highlight for us just a few new voices we should be looking for in 2009?

Here are a few short descriptions that highlight the range of our books.

One family welcomes a new child into the world, evoking the warmth and community of la familia through the acts of each member, including the puppy! –bilingual picture book, Before You Were Here, Mi Amor by Samantha R. Vamos, illustrated by Santiago Cohen (Viking, March 2009)

A girl who tells fake fortunes must make one of them come true to save her father’s life. –middle grade novel, Fortune’s Folly by Deva Fagan (Henry Holt, April 2009).

Eleven-year-old “Groovy” Robinson dreams of attending culinary school until she discovers her father has gambled away her inheritance, and her own mother has had him arrested. –middle grade novel, The Year the Swallows Came Early by Kathryn Fitzmaurice (Bowen Press, Feb. 2009)

When Samar’s turbaned uncle shows up on her doorstep the week of September 11th, everyone notices, and Samar’s happily assimilated existence as an Indian-American Jersey girl is turned upside down.–young adult novel, Shine, Coconut Moon by Neesha Meminger (McElderry, March 2009)

Seventeen-year-old Jory Michaels is convinced she can solve all her problems by getting a nose job. –young adult novel, My Big Nose and Other Natural Disasters by Sydney Salter (Harcourt, April 2009).

What is the criteria for AuthorsNow! membership?

We welcome debut authors from 2009 and beyond. Their publishers must be CWIM or CBC members, and the book must be debuting in the United States. Details are here.

We’ll talk more about your own books later! But for now, could you give us a hint of what to expect from your own debut?

My YA book S.A.S.S.: The Great Call of China (Speak, Feb. 2009) features an adopted teen who journeys to China to find answers to her past.

My other debut middle grade novel Paris Pan Takes the Dare (Putnam, June 2009), features twelve-year-old Paris who has moved to a small town where everyone who’s anyone takes the Dare.

Of course, you can find out all about my debut books and about a zillion others at AuthorsNow!