Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Won’t You Be My Neighbor—Ilima Todd

Welcome everyone to "Won't you be my neighbor". It’s hot outside. Is it hot where you are? You will never guess who I ran into here in Florida. The delightful IlimaTodd!

Angie: What are you doing kickin' it in the Sunshine State?

Ilima: Beach vacation, baby! We flew from Utah to Atlanta where we met up with my husband's family (he's in the middle of 7 kids) and drove the caravan down to the gulf coast. Sand, beach, sun, pool, Olympics on TV, and playing with cousins from dawn to dusk. It's been wonderful. Are you loving Florida, especially since you're just about unpacked?

Angie: I like it so much more than I thought I would. I love rain and green.  If I could just transplant all of my family and a few mountains I may never leave :)

Before I ask my first question I have a little bit of set up for the people. A while back I won a book on Kelley Lynn's blog and when I gave her my address she said, "Do you know Ilima Todd? She's a writer that lives in American Fork Utah too."  I was totally surprised because I did know Ilima but I had no idea she was a writer. We had both been on the costume committee for American Fork Youth Theater. Ilima can sew a great costume! Seriously the girl has skills. I on the other hand am mostly good at bossing people around :) 

Ilima: Small world, huh? That's too funny that Kelley introduced our "writer selves" to each other. As I recall, you were the costume queen and I was just a lowly peon. I do like to sew though, and along with most other things, I wish I had more time to do it. 

Angie: That leads up to my first question...I have found that writers tend to be pretty creative people. What creative things do you go besides sewing and writing?

Ilima: Back in the day I used to run and do triathlons, play guitar, and tap dance—I was a regular Ginger Rogers. Four kids later, I'm lucky if I have time to get dressed before noon. Seriously though, besides writing, reading, and the occasional sewing project, my time is spent homeschooling or carting my kids around to activities like youth theater. 

Angie: I have no idea how you write and home school. Seriously! Do you have some kind of schedule? Fill me in because I need more structure in my life.

Ilima: After lunch every day, the little ones have a nap while the older ones do school individually, so sometimes I can squeeze in an hour or two of writing then. But mostly I write late at night after the kids (and husband) have gone to bed. I have a hard time focusing with interruptions, so a silent house is a treat. And I am so not a morning person.

To be honest, I am far from supermom. Can you say paper plates, frozen lasagna, and a cleaning lady?

Angie: You have a cleaning lady?!?! I'm so jealous! I'm a late night writer too and not a morning person either. I don't think you can be both :)

Okay how about a fun question? I know you are a fan of the love triangle, if you could put three famous literary characters into a love triangle who would you pick and why? (they must be from different books)

Ilima: Oh, man. That's a hard one. Can one of the characters be me? I'd love to have to choose between two swoon-worthy guys. Haha. 

Okay, I'm gonna pick Katniss from The Hunger Games, Brigan from Fire, and Cricket from Lola and the Boy Next Door

Even though Katniss is kind of a reluctant hero who can be unlikable at times, I just want to give her a big hug and say, "You go, girl!" And she totally deserves something happy in her life. 

Brigan is my favorite fictional male character--a tough, strong, leader yet thoughtful and compassionate too. If I have another child, I'm naming him Brigan. Or her. Either way. :) 

And Cricket because…hello? It's Cricket! And if you haven't read Lola yet, stop what you're doing and read it now. Except read Anna and the French Kiss first. Because hello? St. Clair? 

Do you like how I squeezed in one more guy in there. I swear, I think I might invent the love octagon.

Angie: Those are great choices! I've never read Fire. I guess I need to meet Brigan, but I'm a St. Clair fan all the way!

Next question...This is a fun one. You announced on your blog last week that you have got an agent!!! So exciting! I also read that you had multiple offers of representation. How did you pick who to go with? And what three questions do you think are crucial to ask a prospective agent (when we all get "the offer")?

Ilima: I have two agented CP's and had an inside view to their "getting an agent" experience. The one thing that struck me was how much their agents LOVED their manuscripts. I decided that's what I wanted—someone who was as passionate about my book as I was. And in talking with Jennifer and Katherine of Veritas Literary, it was like chatting with my girlfriends about a book we all loved. They loved my world and characters and caught my vision for the novel. And when Jennifer said she was upset with me because the boys in my book were both so delicious and she wished Nine could've had them both, I may have fist-pumped on my side of the phone.

Hmm, three crucial questions? Off the top of my head: 1) What are your plans for revisions on my book? 2) How do you think it will stand in the marketplace? 3) What are the details of the contract? 

I would also do research online to make sure the agency is legit and has a good reputation

Angie: That is so exciting to think that somewhere out there in the world is an agent that loves your book as much as you do :) And those are great questions. I don't think I would have thought of number 2. In fact I'm not sure I know what it even means *she says sheepishly*. Can you elaborate?

Ilima: I probably just worded it weird. It really means—how well will it sell to a publisher today? This was important to me because my book is sci-fi – dystopian – futuristic – post-apocalyptic, and I know  the market is flooded with these genres right now.  Luckily, my agent thought my story was very original and unique enough to stand out among the rest and doesn’t think she’ll have a problem placing it. So…that question might not be a concern for some.

Angie: No, I think that is a really good question. It is also great to see where they see your book selling.

So speaking of your book REMAKE, this is something I'm really interested to know (and I'm sure other people are too). First off I've heard it is written beautifully, but I have a question about the concept.

On your website it says "In a time when people choose their genders, Nine wants to be remade into a boy hoping it will make her brave." Are you at all worried that people will think the concept of a girl wanting to change her gender to a boy is I just know that people will judge on the idea alone. Am I even making sense?)

Ilima: I know it's an edgy concept, and as I was drafting it I worried readers might put the book down for this very reason. Since then, though, so many have told me I walk the line between too-controversial and just-controversial-enough very well. Without giving too much away, I'll just say I think I handled it well and no longer have any reservations about sharing it. I took some risks with this book, and I think they paid off…you'll just have to read it and find out! :)

Angie: I'm planning to! I think there is no better place to tackle hard topics than in stories. You can give a voice to real issues and empathy for characters we might not normally understand.

Last question. Are you ready for it? Tradition dictates that it must be a pageant question :) So...What are three words that best describe you? And why?

Ilima: World peace. Wait, wrong pageant question. Three words to describe me? Ridiculously good looking.

Okay, seriously:

1) Naked—First off, I think clothes are annoying and wish we could just all be naked all the time. But I'm naked emotionally as well. I'm a terrible actor and I wear my heart out on my sleeve. If I'm upset, you know it. If I'm happy, you know it (clap your hands :). So though at times this can be really annoying and/or embarrassing, you always know where you stand with me. 

2) Mother—I think this word encompasses so many things: patience, love, self-sacrifice, joy. It is my most honored role and one I feel so blessed to have.

3) Avocado—Not only is it my favorite food in the whole world, but it perfectly describes me. Lumpy, smooth, squishable, delicious, solid middle, goes with everything, green, likes warm weather, you can hold it in your hand...maybe it doesn't perfectly describe me, but they are delicious!

So yeah: Naked mother avocado. Sounds about right. Also, it could double as a band name.

Angie: LOL! That is the best answer ever! Can I give you an 11? What am I saying? Of course I can. This is my show!

I love it! Can't say I'm a fan of avocados or being naked but I love the symbolism of your answer. I agree it would be an excellent band name :)

I'll let you get back to your vacation, but thanks so much for taking time to hang out with me. I'm so excited for you! Please let us know when your book sells to publishers!

Ilima: Don't worry, I'm sure I'll be shouting that news from the rooftop. :) Thanks for the fun chat, Angie!

Angie: Anytime :)

If you all haven’t been to Ilima’s blog you really need to go! She is always full of great tips and beautifly written posts.

Happy Tuesday everyone! Thanks for stopping by.


Kyra Lennon said...

Ha, this was an awesome interview! Love the idea of a love octagon LOL!

Trisha said...

Loved this interview - and ummm, 2 delicious guys? Right! Adding this to my TBR! :)

Suzi said...

Wow. Homeschooling 4 kids and writing. That impresses me too. It's gotta be hard to find time for yourself.

And thanks for the reminder to read Lola. I read Anna and the French Kiss, but kinda forgot about reading Lola. I must add that to my TBR list too.

Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

I really loved reading this, Ilima! I adore avocados, too, which must be the reason why I like you so much, lol. And I think you're beautiful in that picture!

ilima said...

Thanks, Angie! And I LOVE the new blog look.

Melissa Sarno said...

Another great interview :) Her pageant question answer was so creative!

Emily R. King said...

I love that you picked NAKED first for a word that describes you... is that how you became a mother? LOL! Great interview girls!

Kathryn Purdie said...

Ilima, you are my hero. And your naked mother avocado answer cracked me up. I'm so glad you found the agent who LOVED your book just as much as you. And, Angie, it was so fun to meet you at Storymakers! I lived in Florida for two years as well...I hope you like it there. :-)

Ink in the Book said...

Another homeschooling writer! Yay! This is why love reading interviews. I learn something fascinating every time.
Awesome interview. Thanks!
Oh, and don't you just love it when you realize how small out world is?

Robin said...

Ilima's one of my CP's and I got to learn tidbits i didn't even know in this interview. So fun: Naked Mother Avocado

Neurotic Workaholic said...

Great interview! And I agree with Ilima that it's important to have an agent who's passionate about your manuscript. Then you know that you and your agent are in the same place and that he/she will fight for your story.

ilima said...

Kyra-I know I wouldn't complain if I read one, lol.

Trisha-Thanks, I hope you like it.

Suzi-Oh, you MUST read Lola. It is *this close* to breaking into my top 5 books.

Michelle-I declare you my food twin. I think that means you must cook for me on demand from now on. :)

Melissa-Thank you!

Emily-I think that IS how I became a mother. Wow, that explains a lot. :)

Katie-I may have literally turned green like an avocado watching Weronika drool over your book. It's thanks to you that I made that my goal.

Ink in the Book-Ooh. Do you homeschool as well?

Robin-I'm full of surprises, haha.

Neurotic Workaholic-Exactly. Well said!

Ruth Josse said...

Naked Mother Avacodo! I'm going to be yelling that out just for fun. Fun interview! Congrats on being agented, Ilima!

Love the new look, Angie. Happy and bright, just like you!

Carrie Butler said...

I love that Kelley introduced you two to each other's writing side. Too funny. :)

Meredith said...

I love this interview! I definitely need to use naked mother avocado as a band name now, somehow. :)

Ella said...

Who doesn't love a Naked Mother Avocado, lol
Great interview ladies~
Nice to meet you both :D

Kelley Lynn said...

I remember when I sent you that email!!! I was like... should I be doing this? But they don't have to contact each other if they don't want too... haha. So glad it worked out. :)

And Naked Mother Avocado. Brilliant!

ilima said...

Ruth-It kind of just rolls off the tongue, doesn't it?

Carrie-I know, what are the chances?

Meredith-Rock on!

Ella-Great to meet you too.

Kelley-You are all kinds of wonderful, my dear. Glad it worked out too.

jaybird said...

I want to give you a giant, squishy, avocado hug right now!

You are so funny and full of surprises Ilima! I adored this interview and I am so happy for you. Multiple offers! How exciting.

Can't wait to read Remake, you know I'm already a HUGE fan. Remember me when your all famous and stuff.

PS: You look absolutely beautiful in your pic. Without make-up too! For that, I might have to start to hate you, just a little... :)

T C Mckee said...

Great interview! I thought I was the only person in the world that wasn't a morning person. Love me some late nights. :)

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great book! Too funny your writing selves didn't know each other . . . it's a small world afterall! *waves from FL--I live on the gulf coast:-)

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