New Voice: Lissa Price on Starters

By Cynthia Leitich Smith

Lissa Price is the first-time author of Starters (Random House, 2012). From the promotional copy:

In a future Los Angeles, becoming someone else is now possible. 

Sixteen-year-old Callie discovers the Body Bank where teens rent their bodies to seniors who want to be young again. But when her neurochip malfunctions, she wakes up in the mansion of her rich renter and finds she is going out with a senator’s grandson. 

It’s a fairy-tale new life, until she discovers her renter’s deadly plan.

Could you tell us about your writing community-your critique group or partner or other sources of emotional and/or professional support?

I think finding a writing community is one of the most important things a writer can do. I’ve made wonderful friends by going to writer’s conferences and workshops. I met my local writing group when I went to a conference in Arizona.

Lissa’s work space.

On the last day, the Sunday brunch, I sat at a table with some guys. They told me they were looking for a woman to be in their writing group because they had just lost the only female member. In case that sounds wrong, let me say that it helps to have both sexes in a writing group so you can always get a reality check.

I thought they lived far away but it turned out they lived in the city next to mine, in California, just 20 minutes away. So I joked later how I had to travel to Arizona to find my local writing group.

The group had been going on for a long time, and I loved the way they ran it. We email each other pages a day before the meeting. If we have a lot of pages that week, we try to send earlier. Then we print out the pages and write our comments on them.

At this point, after being together four or five years, we know each other’s style and personality well enough that we’re comfortable making comments. When you don’t know a group very well, there could be some temper tantrums. One of them is an attorney and one is an ex-journalist, which makes for excellent critique partners.

We’ve lost some members who got published and they were afraid I’d leave too. But I value our group too much. Many authors have writing groups.

In addition to this, I joined the Apocalypsies, a group of some 140 2012 debut authors, young adult and middle grade. I’m really glad I did this as I’ve made some wonderful friends and found a great sense of camaraderie. We share information and serve as a great support when we tour. I had one stop in a city that wasn’t well publicized. An Apocalypsie showed up with her writing group and that made my night.

The new group for YA authors debuting in 2013 is the Lucky 13s. Anyone debuting then should seriously consider joining.

How have you approached the task of promoting your debut book? What online or real-space efforts are you making? Where did you get your ideas? To whom did you turn for support? Are you enjoying the process, or does it feel like a chore? What advice do you have on this front for your fellow debut authors and for those in the years to come?

I have always been a bit of a geek nerd, so the social networking aspect of promotion came naturally to me. Before I went searching for agents, I taught myself Word Press, went to a couple of WP group meetings, and then created my own website.

When my publisher picked up my book, they looked at it and decided it was okay to continue blogging on it. They gave me a nice new banner with my book on it and I took off the excerpt and description as we were keeping the book concept secret pre-publication. They still created their own official site, which is beautiful ( and startersbooks on facebook).

Beth Revis, the author of Across the Universe and A Million Suns, invited me to join her blog, The League of Extraordinary Writers. She started it with five 2011 debut YA authors working in science fiction/fantasy, all wonderful writers. Going into the second year, she invited five authors debuting in 2012.

It’s a great group, I’m proud to be part of it. I blog on Thursdays, so sometimes I’ll pick up on a topic that was started earlier in the week and sometimes we all just write about what’s on our minds. For example, I spoke on the YA dystopian panel at the LA Times Festival of Books, so I wrote about that and how I chose to attend the Anne Rice interview.

I never have trouble thinking of a blog idea on that site, it’s more a matter of trying to write what the readers will most enjoy. It’s not like my blog where I feel I can write whatever I want.

I find that my mornings are consumed by promotion. I answer email from the east coast, then tweet about my fellow Apocalypsies news, do Q and A for blog interviews, correspond with fans, handle giveaways and promotions, fill out forms about upcoming appearances and conferences.

Some days it is all I do, and I don’t get to writing until very late at night. I am hoping that once my book has been out longer, I’ll be able to have more writing time. But what I most enjoy is getting tweets and emails from fans from twelve-year-olds to adults, saying they loved reading my book.

My advice to debut authors is to embrace the process. All of this social media allows us to connect with each other faster than ever before and that’s what it’s all about – connection.

By Paul Gregory Photography.

Cynsational Notes

The Starters Readers Guide (PDF) from Random House.

Like the Starters Facebook page and check out the FB game app.

5 thoughts on “New Voice: Lissa Price on Starters

  1. Lissa, which version of WordPress did you use? The one with everything all set up (similar to Blogger) or the one you put together yourself? (I think the two version are and Why did you choose WordPress?


  2. Thank you so much, Kimberley! Ken, I used the version, the one you put together yourself. And that's what I'd recommend. It's a little more work, but more flexible and better in the long run.

    Thank you, Cynthia, for having me.

  3. I started to read Starters with some reservations, but ended up liking it very much. I found the plot to be original, which is unusual these days and was even really surprised at one point but can't say what or it would be a spoiler.

  4. Kimberley, thanks for chiming in.

    Ken, good luck with any adventures with WordPress–I hope you keep reading me at Blogger.

    Alex, thanks for recommending the book. So glad you enjoyed it.

    Lissa, thanks for sharing your thoughts and participating in the conversation at the comments. Congratulations again!

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