Author Aprilynne Pike talks rejection, almost giving up writing, love, her latest paranormal murder mystery, and how to write a book while taking care of four children.
When author Aprilynne Pike met her future husband at age 18, she felt an instant, strong connection. "Knowing at first sight" is how she described the encounter. "I don't even know if attraction is the right word, except for the way that magnets attract. That kind of attraction." So it may not be surprising that "Wings," which was No. 1 on the New York Times "Children's Chapter Books" best-seller list, was a fantasy young adult romance. "I was 18 and he was 19 when we met, and I believe in teenage love," Pike said. "That doesn't mean that I believe that every teenage relationship is meant to become marriage ... but I believe in teenagers' ability to be in love, even if it isn't going to last forever. I fell in love as a teenager, and I've been in love ever since ... it's the whole 'write what you know' thing." 'Sleep No More' With Pike's tendency toward romance, readers of her latest book, "Sleep No More" (HarperTeen, $17.99, ages 14 and up), might find the deviation surprising. While Pike still manages to squeeze a little kissing into the paranormal murder mystery, the plot is downright chilling. Teenage oracle Charlotte sees glimpses of possible futures - but she learned at a young age that interfering with or trying to change the future can have devastating consequences. With practice, Charlotte can suppress the visions, until she starts getting powerful glimpses of her classmates brutally and gruesomely murdered that are too powerful to hold back. With the lives of her friends on the line, how can Charlotte sit back and do nothing? Pike admitted that her agent initially discouraged sending the idea to her editor because it was so dark. But in a meeting with her editor, while Pike was mentioning all the ideas she had in the works, her editor asked to see it. After reading a synopsis and the five pages Pike had written, the editor gave her the green light. Then, three days later, the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., happened. "It was the first national tragedy that felt very personal to me." Pike said. "When the news of Newtown came out, the first day everyone was misreporting that it was a kindergarten class. Fifteen minutes later, I left to go pick up my kindergartner and it really, really hit me. I was so exceptionally grateful that my son was going to be alive, and there were so many parents of kids that weren't." The next week, Pike went through life in a "dismal funk" as she began writing "Sleep No More." Pike wrote the book quickly, in only 36 days, and found that the paranormal thriller took on a darkness of its own. "I poured everything into this manuscript," Pike said. "And when I was done, I felt better. It really was not intended to be quite this dark. ... I put what I was feeling about the (Newtown) tragedy into the book." Pike felt that the press coverage for Newtown was exceptionally invasive, and she included scenes like it in the book when the small town tries to deal with its children being killed and outside forces and press coming in. Road to publishing With the upcoming debut of "Sleep No More" (the sequel of which is already completed) and having completed several other works, including the four-book New York Times best-selling Wings series, Pike seems to have become a well-established author. But it didn't always seem like it would be that way. Pike received 180 rejections from agents before an agent took her on - and even then, her first book didn't sell. After submitting "Wings" and going several weeks without hearing back from anyone, Pike - who is also a childbirth educator - decided to quit writing altogether and start taking on clients for childbirth classes. The day she made the decision to quit also happened to be the day her agent called to say that "Wings" would be published. "Wings" hit No. 4 on the New York Times "Children's Chapter Books" best-seller list in its debut week and climbed to No. 1 the following week. "Making the New York Times best-seller list doesn't change your life, but it does change the trajectory of your career," Pike said. "It's still the everyday grind. I have books that haven't hit the list at all. I have proposals, which have been rejected by several editors. So it doesn't mean that suddenly I'm a writer that everyone wants even my grocery list if I'll just put my name on it. "But it opens doors. I don't think that there is any editor out there that won't read a proposal from me, at least, to see what is going on there because I have that label." 'Two childproof gates' But having popular books and sequels to those books requires lots of writing time, which is hard to come by for this mother of four. Pike says the secret to writing with kids is to have good babies; good babies or childproof gates. In the evolution of her writing/mommy schedule, there was a time when Pike could write for only two hours a day. Whenever the youngest child, who was still napping, went to sleep, Pike would gather the other children, lock the bathroom and other hazards, put on a two-hour movie, put out snacks, stack two baby gates in her office doorway and write for the duration of the movie. "They had rest time, I had writing time," Pike said. "I learned that if you put two childproof gates on top of each other in a doorway, even your 2-year-old cannot get over them." Two months before "Wings" came out, Pike was under a six-week deadline at the same time her husband was studying for finals in law school. "My husband is so helpful, but he couldn't be helpful because he was studying nonstop for finals. We used every piece of silverware in the house, including the box of camping silverware my mother had given me," Pike recalled. "We were doing laundry on an as-needed basis, and you'd be surprised what you really need sometimes. The house was a disaster by the time my husband finished his last test and I handed in my manuscript. I think it took a whole week to put our house back together." Though the process of writing with children is ever-evolving, Pike has managed to author a variety of enjoyable novels that are certain to always contain a little kissing.%3Cimg%20src%3D%22http%3A//beacon.deseretconnect.com/beacon.gif%3Fcid%3D166119%26pid%3D46%22%20/%3E