Writing Thesis: AT YOUR SERVICE
Abstract: In this love letter to NYC, tween Chloe longs to follow in her concierge father’s footsteps, and when she’s awarded the role of Junior Concierge (tending to the needs of guests’ children) at the fancy hotel where she lives, she’s well on her way. Right up until the point she loses a visiting royal. She’ll have to race through NYC’s tourist spots in search, but can she find the young princess before the incident becomes international news and dashes both her reputation and her dreams?
Department: Simon & Schuster/Aladdin MIX
Faculty Advisors: Annie Berger and Amy Cloud
Release Date: August 26, 2014
Hometown: Boston, MA
Minor(s): overusing the word “just”, overbooking Future Jen, and (over)pining for a hedgehog.
Most Likely To: fall while walking down (or up) stairs.
Friday Night Whereabouts:
_X_ Library (except why isn’t dueling piano bar an option?)
___ Missing in Action
# Books Queried Before AT YOUR SERVICE: #1
Quote from Thesis: “I’m sorry, but does she not have the slightest clue how special this city is? Does she think Frank Sinatra would “start spreading the news” about the worst place ever? Has she not seen all the t-shirts? They don’t say “I FROWNY-FACE NY”. No. They say “I HEART NY”. And anyone who doesn’t heart it themselves must not have a heart to begin with.
AT YOUR SERVICE is a mini love letter to NYC. What’s your connection to the city and what made you set the book there?
As a child, I completely adored every trip we made to NYC and every book I read set there. Still do. I think it really helped to “know” the city as a tourist and write from that perspective, because I can still describe the sights and sounds (and smells!) from a… let’s call it “less jaded”… perspective, which might not be the case if I’d lived in the city for years and years. That said, it was exceedingly helpful to have an editor and critique partner who DO live there and could steer me straight if I got something wrong!
If you were a concierge in a fancy hotel like Chloe’s dad, what would you be great at recommending and what would be out of your comfort zone?
While I’ve never been a hotel concierge, I have been both a youth hostel manager and a publicist for some major Hollywood celebrities and both came with their fair share of weird requests, trust me. After that, there’s not all that much that’s out of my comfort zone, sadly, but I probably would have to do some major consulting before I could recommend a hopping nightspot these days.
You recently sold not one, not two, but FOUR additional books: a two-book MG series, co-authored with Gail Nall, called RSVP (Aladdin, Spring 2015 and Winter 2016), and a two-book deal for your YA debut WANDERLOST (HarperTeen Summer 2016) and a second YA novel. First, congratulations, and second, you’ve been busy! How does it feel to have the next couple of years planned out, at least in your writing life?
Well, now I’m blushing (in between sending balloons and chocolate to my ninja agent). A few months before I got offers on those books, I remember wailing to that ninja agent about how everyone else in the 2014 debut group was already in copyedits on their second book and I hadn’t sold anything and what if I never, ever did again (of course, her answer was to stop it, stop it, STOP IT with the comparisons!) Be careful what you wish for, right? (Wait, did I just reference wishes to the girl with the jinn book?) It feels great, of course, but also a little strange because until now I’ve had the freedom to work on whichever project I wanted and now I find myself tucking away shiny ideas versus jumping straight into them. Not complaining though, of course!
If you could give one piece of advice to upcoming 2014 and 2015 debuts, what would it be?
I can’t claim this for my own, but someone recently posted in the 2014 message boards and I found her advice to be brilliant amidst all the topsy-turviness of a debut year. I’ll paraphrase: Once a week or so, take out your book (or ARC), slap it on the desk next to you, admire it for a moment, and say, “Hot damn, I wrote a book. Hell yeah, I did!” I also keep reminding myself (though not necessary, so far!) to savor all these first and try hard to never get jaded about any of it.
Do you have a favorite book from your younger years?
I really, really loved From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. I wanted to be Claudia sooo badly.
What is your advice to young writers who have dreams of being published?
While publishing isn’t for the faint of heart, if it’s your dream, it’s your dream, and you should honor that. However, being published is not the only finish line and plenty of people are writers without getting published. You’re a writer the minute you call yourself a writer, so give yourself that respect. However, my advice would also be: for every hour you spend writing, spend at least two reading. There is no better way to learn both the craft and the market!
Enter to win a signed copy of AT YOUR SERVICE, releasing August 26, 2014!
Jen Malone is a middle grade and young adult author. Her debut AT YOUR SERVICE published with Simon & Schuster/Aladdin MIX in August 2014 and her new series, RSVP (Simon & Schuster), co-written with Gail Nall, launches with Book #1 in 2015. Her YA debut WANDERLOST is forthcoming with HarperCollins in 2016.
Jen lives north of Boston with her husband and three children, teaches at Boston University, loves school visits, and has a “thing” for cute hedgehog pictures.