Interview with YA author Brenna Yovanoff

It’s not often I make a little *sqeeeeeeeeeee* sound at the thought of a book being published, but I’m silly excited about The Replacement coming out later this month! In honour of the book’s launch, I thought I’d chat to the sweet and lovely Brenna Yovanoff, author of The Replacement and one of the Merry Sisters of Fate!

REDPEN: Your debut novel The Replacement is due out on 21 September. Can you tell us a little bit more about it?

BRENNA: Thanks for having me, Liz!  The Replacement is about a boy who isn’t human and town that isn’t what it seems.  Also music, dead things, and kissing.

REDPEN: How did you come up with the concept of The Replacement?

BRENNA: I wish this were a more dramatic answer but it’s not anything very exciting, I’m afraid.  The idea of a modern-day changeling story had been bouncing around in my head for a few years, and then one day, I just decided it was time to sit down and write it.

REDPEN: Who is your favourite character in the book and why?

BRENNA: Well, I hate to play favorites, but I really do like the Morrigan.  She’s so childish and so amoral, but she has a good heart and basically, I wouldn’t mind having a tea party with her.

REDPEN: Music plays a big part in the book. Which songs inspired you while you wrote the book? 

BRENNA: I *always* listen to something when I write, whether it’s music or the TV or people’s conversations in a coffee shop, because I really need to have background noise when I work.  The songs I listened to the most while working on The Replacement were probably “The Rat” by Dead Confederate, and “Heart Attack,” by Low vs. Diamond.  Both of those songs totally made me think of the atmosphere I wanted the town of Gentry to have.

REDPEN: Were there any characters or scenes that you liked that didn’t make the final edit? 

BRENNA: Oh, there were plenty of scenes that didn’t make the final edit, but I wasn’t too tragic to see them go, because they really didn’t need to be there.  However, there was this one scene that I cut before my agent even began submitting the manuscript to publishers.  I hated to cut it, and my sister, who’d read an earlier draft, demanded that I put it back in.  But the book had been revised so much that the scene just really didn’t fit anymore.  Months later though, when I was doing revisions for my editor, the story had changed significantly and all of a sudden that scene was absolutely necessary again, so I got to put it back in!

REDPEN: What has your journey to publication been like? 

BRENNA: Well, I’ve been working toward getting published for a long time, which seems pretty typical of the process—it often does take a long time.  I started writing seriously after high school and haven’t stopped since, but I had a lot to learn about story structure and about the publishing industry.  I don’t think the journey itself was particularly remarkable—I did a lot of research and a lot of revising, but the basic steps were pretty straightforward.  I got an agent through the query process and wound up doing a hefty revision with her, which made the book immeasurably better.  She submitted to publishers, I signed with Razorbill, and the rest is history!

REDPEN: The YA community is really buzzing about The Replacement. Did you ever expect to get such an amazing response?

BRENNA: In a word?  NO, not even remotely.  The online response has been so incredible and the book isn’t even out yet!  All the teen reviewers and the bloggers have been absolutely awesome—I love you guys!

REDPEN: Your book’s cover art is really atmospheric and haunting – did you get any say in how it looked?

BRENNA:  No say whatsoever, and I couldn’t be happier!  I think the cover captures the tone of the story perfectly, and I couldn’t have hoped for anything better.

REDPEN:  What’s it feel like to see your book for the very first time?

BRENNA: Weird? Completely amazing and exhilarating and unexpected.  Did I mention weird?

REDPEN: You mention on your blog that you’re working on your second book. Is it a sequel to The Replacement or something new? Can you drop any hints about what it’s about?

BRENNA: My next book is another standalone, this time about demons, mortal peril and moral ambiguity.  Also, there is kissing involved.

REDPEN: You’re one of the Merry Sisters of Fate – can you tell us a little more about the group, who you all are and if you have any books coming out?

BRENNA:  The Merry Fates is a short fiction blog that I keep with fellow writers Tessa Gratton and Maggie Stiefvater.  LINGER, which is Maggie’s second book in the Shiver series just came out in July, and Tessa’s debut, BLOOD MAGIC will be out from Random House next April.  We also just recently found out that a Merry Fates anthology will be coming out with Carolrhoda in 2012!

REDPEN: Do you think it’s important to have a close group of fellow writers to bounce ideas off?

BRENNA: Although I think you can work alone and write well and get things done, I definitely prefer to talk out my manuscript issues with someone else.  Having critique partners I trust is invaluable.  Sometimes you just need a second opinion, or someone to get you moving when you don’t feel motivated.

REDPEN: What advice can you give to aspiring authors?

BRENNA: Writing is an endurance sport—there’s just no way around it.  So, buckle down and try not to mind that it can be slow going.  Expect things to take a long time, and you will never be disappointed!

REDPEN: Which three books changed your life?

BRENNA: Changed my life—that’s hard one!  I would have to go with some of the books that I absolutely worshiped when I was first deciding I wanted to write.  I’ll say The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros,  One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey, and Watership Down, by Richard Adams.

REDPEN: Many thanks!

BRENNA: Thanks so much for a great interview, Liz!

The Replacement is due out on 21 September. You can pre-order your copy on Amazon now.

And now, if you don’t mind…. *SQEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE*


  1. I ordered the Replacement from Amazon and look forward to reading it. Great interview.


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tracy Buchanan, E.F.Morris. E.F.Morris said: Interview with the charming and sweet @brennayovanoff is now on my blog! Check it: #TheReplacement […]

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