Swoon Author Vicky Skinner's First Draft Report: Skipping the Sophomore Slump
There’s something that authors go through call the Sophomore Slump. This refers to the struggle it takes to go from releasing your debut novel into the world to sitting back down in front of a blank page to write Book 2.
I didn’t go through this. Not because I’m just so amazing that I don’t struggle but because I wrote We Are the Ghosts a loooooong time ago. So while I struggled, I didn’t start from scratch with a brand new idea after I was done working on How to Breathe Underwater. So let’s journey allllll the way back to 2013, when I wrote We Are the Ghosts, my third NaNoWriMo novel.
Listen, I love and breathe NaNoWriMo. It’s like a holiday in our house. Forget Thanksgiving and Hanukkah! (Not really though because I love Thanksgiving and Hanukkah.) NaNoWriMo is a tradition that began with my sister and spread from her to me and then from me to my mother and from us to a whole slew of people, and for the past few years, it’s been the only time during the year that I work on a first draft. It just makes it easier. I write a new novel in November every year and spend the rest of the year editing other projects.
I wrote We Are the Ghosts during NaNoWriMo, but you could probably say I cheated. You see, I wrote some of it before November 1st, which I know is strictly forbidden!
On July 13, 2013, I wrote the first line of We Are the Ghosts on my way to work. Then, it was, “I had a sex dream about Marlon Brando the night my brother died.” It’s a tad different now, but the story behind it remains the same. I was taking a summer Lit class that July, we were studying A Streetcar Named Desire, and the night before I found out someone important to me had passed away, I had a sex dream about Marlon Brando. No, I don’t remember it. Sorry.
That morning, I pulled into work, grabbed a notebook from my purse, and jotted down the line. In a Lit class the following semester, I wrote a series of letters from a girl to her dead brother, which I turned in. They weren’t very well received, but they morphed into a series of postcards and then morphed again into an epic road trip that eventually became We Are the Ghosts.
The construction of the first draft of Ghosts was a bit of a rollercoaster, and it looks much different now, but the heart of the story hasn’t changed. It’s about love and loss and forgiveness, and I hope it resonates with readers.
We Are the Ghosts goes on sale August 13! Don't forget to add it to your Goodreads shelf!