“The curtain dropped and I went on autopilot. It was still light enough that I could make out every person in the audience.
They were so very close. Barricades created a moat between us and them, where security stood, screaming fans draped over with their phones. It stressed me out so much that I backpedaled and bumped right into Beckett. I would have stayed there, frozen, but Pem scowled and I knew I had to work more of the stage.
I sang the verse, stalking to the front, and held my mike out for the crowd to sing the chorus, which they actually did. It was like one of those trust exercises, like I’d fallen backward off a chair and they were actually there to catch me.
I knew then that I’d never get enough.”
It’s no secret how excited I am for FOR THE RECORD to be out into the world. And I love to hear writers’ origin stories. Can you tell us a bit about your inspiration behind the book?
FOR THE RECORD is a book I’ve been wanting to write for a long time. My husband works in the music business, as do many of our close friends, so often times I’ll be at a dinner or something with them, just absorbing stories about the industry. When you get music people together, it can be all they want to talk about. It actually used to annoy me but I finally surrendered and I’m thrilled that I’ve been able to put all those hours of listening to good use.
Also, I see a lot of shows with my husband and get to be a fly on the wall in the backstage areas. What goes on there is still completely fascinating to me. The best part is watching the fans. Music fans are seriously dedicated. They will wait in interminable lines, until all hours, to be able to meet the artists and maybe give them a present. It’s pretty amazing. I thought it might be fun for them to get a closer peek behind the scenes.
I know you are fortunate enough to have an awesome agent (Adriann Ranta) and an equally awesome editor (Wendy Loggia at Delacorte). Can you tell us how you connected and wound up getting your “yes” from each of them?
Upon the advice of someone really brilliant and wonderful [note: it was Chandler] I entered an online pitch contest last summer run by Michelle Krys and Ruth Lauren Steven. Michelle picked my entry (which was for a different book) to feature on her blog. Adriann was one of the agents in the contest. She requested the full manuscript and eventually offered me representation! When we had our first conversation, she asked me what I was working on at the time. I told her about FOR THE RECORD. That ended up being the book we went on submission with first and Wendy was one of the first editors Adriann submitted to! I’ve had such a great experience working with these two ladies and I feel very lucky to have landed where I did.
Like me, you’ve been living in your revision cave as you work on fine-tuning your novel with your editor. What’s the most important thing you’ve learned through that process so far?
Well, through you and some of the other Freshman Fifteens, I learned about breaking the editorial letter down into manageable tasks and assigning due dates to each. Just the process of organizing the work in that way made it feel less overwhelming.
Something I learned even before the process started really helped me as well. Eoin Colfer spoke on a panel at the LA Times Festival of Books this year. He said that we should trust our editors and that if we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll see that it’s a much better book post-editing. I’m paraphrasing and there are probably exceptions but it stuck with me and helped me not give into temptations to hold onto any darlings (well, mostly). In my case, I can attest that what he said holds true!
You have so many great characters in FOR THE RECORD. Who was your favorite to write and why?
Chelsea, the main character, is an obvious choice but since she was the newbie in the band and on tour, it was really fun to write everything from her POV. I enjoyed writing all the characters to be honest. I love writing boys so writing this world full of boys, was a treat.
Finally, what is your writing process like? Which parts do you enjoy most of the process and which do you dread?
For me the most challenging part is getting down an idea that’s really enough to carry a whole book. Which is not to say that I dread it, but just… it’s difficult. At this point, I’m fairly sure that everything else can be accomplished with hard work. Don’t remind me I said this the next time I’m swearing at my revisions. The idea stage is hard work too but not so much in a way that you can control, and it doesn’t always feel active. You have to be patient, which I’m not great at. I love the freedom of drafting. That’s when I feel the most lost in the world of the book.
Charlotte Huang is a graduate of Smith College and received an MBA from Columbia Business School, which is clearly something every aspiring writer should do.
Charlotte lives in Los Angeles and when not glued to her computer, she cheers her two sons on at sporting events and sometimes manages to stay up late enough to check out bands with her music agent husband. Charlotte is represented by Adriann Ranta of Wolf Literary.