We were thrilled to talk with Avery Yue recently, one of Inkling’s Your Name In Ink authors. Your Name In Ink is SYI’s advanced publishing program for Inkings youth authors who have already published before. We are incredibly proud of Avery’s momentous accomplishment in writing a complete trilogy! We hope you enjoy our chat with her as much as we did.
Tell us about your books, Avery.
The Trilogy is about the journey of Moon, a fourteen-year-old girl raised by wolves, as she explores first the wolf world, then the human world, and struggles to find her place between the two. The three books follow her to three locations, The Village, The Town, and The City, as she meets new people, makes friends and loses them, and tries to figure out her relationships with her own identity and other people. Meanwhile, she goes on exciting adventures and faces various dangers! A wolf aiming to destroy the village, a quest to retrieve supplies from the Town under the threat of deadly winter, and the devious plans of a recurring villain in the City she must foil while evading new foes. There’s also lots of talking animals and shenanigans! Characters get lost in snowstorms, are attacked by various wild animals (bears! coyotes!), bake lots of bread, argue, and try their best to do the right thing.
What inspired you to tell this story?
When I was nine, drafting The Village, I was really just having fun. I liked wolves, so I put those in, and then some birds, and various tortoises and turtles, and then tacked a plot on top of all of that and called it a day. So, what really inspired the story was whatever I liked at any given moment! For The Town, I had been watching a lot of Avatar: The Last Airbender and that definitely had an influence. I was obsessed with chase scenes in The City. I was really just going wherever I wanted and pulling the story behind me, hoping that other people would enjoy it as much as I did
Looking back in revision, I realized a lot of the themes reflected issues I was dealing with while drafting: feeling out of place, trying to find where I fit with other people and the world around me. I pulled a lot of those themes to the surface in revision. That’s when the story really started to become a story I really wanted to share, more than just a collection of things I liked and thought others might too. So I suppose I was kind of inspired by myself, if it isn’t too arrogant to say!
What problems did you run into in your revision and how did you resolve them?
I think the biggest problem in my revision was that I wrote the first drafts of all three books from the ages of 9-11, and so my writing voice and ability was wildly different when I returned to the manuscripts at the ages of 12-15. I struggled to keep the joy and whimsy of my younger self while also wrangling the story into something that made sense. It was hard to keep the story as something I could be proud of both as a monument to the writer I used to be and a reflection of the writer I would be when I finished.
I eventually had to accept the story’s imperfections and work with what I had. I would always be growing and improving, so I would always be looking at my past work with a kind of embarrassed confusion. And that’s okay! Even though I’m a better writer now, my old writing is valuable and good in its own right. Once I acknowledged that, I could better see the story for what it was and work to improve that foundation, rather than constantly trying to rewrite and hide what I had already done. That made it easier.
On a lighter note, I had to cut a lot of great stuff. I had a bird character whose entire purpose was telling dad jokes. Moon escaped capture in The City only to realize she was lost and returned to her captor to ask for directions. That was great! It was funny! And it had to go, which was hard, but I got through it by reminding myself it made room for newer, better stuff. So everything worked out, in the end!
What do you hope your readers will take away from your book?
That’s a hard question! Well, first, the books were written to be fun. I had fun writing them and then revising them, so I hope readers have fun with it too! That’s the most I can ask for, I think—that what made me happy also makes them happy.
On a deeper level, though, I think I’d hope that readers relate in some way to the experience of Moon and her friends. I’d hope they understand that if they feel as though people are pushing them to be a certain person, or as though they just don’t really fit like they’re supposed to, then they aren’t alone in that feeling. And if I’m lucky, they would understand that it’s okay to feel this way, and it’s okay if people don’t get who or what they are if they do and they love themselves. That’s what I hope that the younger me who started all this would take away from my revisions of her work if she could read them, anyway. So I hope readers do too! And also that they have fun along with it, and maybe laugh a bit at my jokes here and there.
What would you tell someone who wrote a novel and is not sure they want to do revisions?
Well, first, congratulations!! Finishing a novel is an incredibly hard thing to do, and you’re very cool and awesome for doing it. Great work!
Now, revising can be difficult, so I understand the uncertainty. It’s tempting to leave the story as it is and be done with it—you spent so long making it this way, so why change it, right? My favorite part of writing is the drafting, so I always go to revisions dragging my feet and sighing a lot. It’s tough work!
What helps me get through it is the knowledge that I’m improving the story every edit I make. Comparing my first drafts with my last drafts proves it! After my first draft, I actually understand what kind of story I want to tell and what my characters are like. Hope’s motivations in The Trilogy changed drastically from the first draft to the last. And I think the story is much better for it! I could have finished my writing journey after my first draft, but it would have been a shame I’d done all that drafting just to set it aside. I’d only just dipped my toe into that world and its character! Once you’ve finished your draft, there’s so much more you can do with the story.
Ultimately, it’s your choice whether you want to continue after your first draft into revisions. Maybe you don’t have time or energy. Maybe your goal was just to have fun and then leave, and you’re more than ready to move on. Your situation may be very different from mine. But if you’ve written a novel and are debating revising it, I would say you should give it a shot! At least try, right? See what you can do with it! I know I’d at least be excited to see where you go. 😀