New Voice: Inara Scott on Delcroix Academy: The Candidates

Inara Scott is the first-time author of Delcroix Academy: The Candidates (Hyperion, 2010). From the promotional copy:

Dancia Lewis is far from popular. And that’s not just because of her average grades or her less-than-glamorous wardrobe.

In fact, Dancia’s mediocrity is a welcome cover for her secret: whenever she sees a person threatening someone she cares about, things just…happen. Cars skid. Structures collapse. Usually someone gets hurt.

So Dancia does everything possible to avoid getting close to anyone, believing this way she can suppress her powers and keep them hidden.

But when recruiters from the prestigious Delcroix Academy show up in her living room to offer her a full scholarship, Dancia’s days of living under the radar may be over.

Only, Delcroix is a school for diplomats’ kids and child geniuses–not B students with uncontrollable telekinetic tendencies. So why are they treating Dancia like she’s special? Even the hottest guy on campus seems to be going out of his way to make Dancia feel welcome.

And then there’s her mysterious new friend Jack, who can’t stay out of trouble. He suspects something dangerous is going on at the Academy and wants Dancia to help him figure out what. But Dancia isn’t convinced. She hopes that maybe the recruiters know more about her “gift” than they’re letting on. Maybe they can help her understand how to use it….

But not even Dancia could have imagined what awaits her behind the gates of Delcroix Academy.

What were you like as a young reader, and how did that influence the book that you’re debuting this year?

I was, and likely always will be, a devout reader of romance and fantasy. I lived for stories of dashing heroes and heroines; larger than life figures who saved the world, found a love for all time, and lived happily ever after. I wanted big, unrealistic stories that took me away from real life and transported me to a magical place.

Of course, that also meant I didn’t enjoy much of what I read in school. I found “literature” was usually code for stories that were realistic and depressing.

Because of this, I didn’t major in English and Creative Writing. I didn’t think I could be a “real” writer because I didn’t love the books that were considered “good literature.”

Instead, I went to law school where I could indulge my love of writing in settings where brevity and story were valued above all else.

Eventually, though, my love of fiction won out. I wrote my first novel (a romance that will never see the light of day!) in 2005 and have been writing ever since.

Now, all you lovers of literature, don’t despair! I’m not anti-intellectual, and I love the way a good book can raise important issues and make you question your assumptions about the world. In fact, I wanted to do just that in my novel, Delcroix Academy: The Candidates. I simply wanted to do it in the context of romance, fantasy, and a great story.

As a fantasy writer, going in, did you have a sense of how events/themes in your novel might parallel or speak to events/issues in our real world? Or did this evolve over the course of many drafts?

I did not originally connect the events in my novel with current events. I wanted to challenge the dualistic paradigm usually seen in fantasy novels because I found that fascinating, not because of any particular issue in the real world.

Yet at the same time I was writing the novel, the “war on terror” was escalating, protests against the Iraq War were growing, and domestic surveillance activities were increasing.

By the time I finished the book, the focus of the nation seemed to have turned on exactly the sorts of issues that Dancia encountered at Delcroix Academy.

Coincidence? Probably not. I don’t see how any writer can fail to be influenced by the zeitgeist of her time. But it was an unconscious evolution, rather than a conscious attempt to work out current events in a fictional setting.

What advice do you have for other writers in seeking the right agent for them?

My first agent and I have parted ways, and I’m working now with a new agent who I just adore. Though it was difficult to make the decision to change, I’m a lawyer and a business person, and I know that when it comes to client relationships, things just don’t always work out perfectly. You can’t take this too personally or get too emotionally wound up in it.

My advice for other writers is to be realistic but optimistic. Shoot for the stars, do your research, and query the agent you think is perfect for you and your book.

But don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. You never know who will connect with your writing, and you may find that it’s a young, hungry agent who sees the promise in your work, rather than the “dream” agent who has a hundred clients, all of whom are already on the best seller list.

Treat your writing as a career and an evolutionary process. Listen to your gut, but don’t let emotion or fear prevent you from moving forward and becoming the success I know you can be!