...and by that I mean I won an American Girl doll at a raffle once and I usually win ten bucks on scratch tickets. But I never thought I was particularly lucky. The events of the past month (yes, it's been exactly a month since Suzie called me with HarperTeen's offer) have convinced me otherwise.
I'm sure there's hard work and a teensy bit of talent in the mix, but when I look back on my journey, I have to think luck played a huge, huge part in where I am now. Six months ago, I wasn't even done with the second act of my first draft. Now I have a publishing deal, multiple foreign rights deals, a movie option, and my family's respect (!!!!). LUCK LUCK LUCK.
A year ago, I had just graduated USC with a BFA in Screenwriting. I wanted (and still want) to be David Koepp. I wanted to write blockbuster, popcorn, gotta-see-it-at-midnight movies. And for some reason, a television pilot I wrote landed me a general meeting at Benderspink. (LUCK). After I pitched another TV pilot and a dumb movie idea, I heard luck whispering in my ear. Screw it. Pitch what you've been thinking about. So I told them I wanted to write the next big YA novel. I knew it was cocky to say, but that's what I wanted and I was mid-meeting, so I was firing on all cylinders. Turns out, Benderspink had just sold the rights to Dan Krokos' The Planet Thieves, so books were on the brain. I pitched writing a YA novel to them at exactly the right time.
When I finally finished, they passed the book to their publishing contact, who happened to be Pouya Shahbazian, the film/tv agent at New Leaf Literary. He thought my manuscript was in Suzie's wheelhouse, passed it on to her, and against all odds, she didn't look at the page count (my first draft was a whale). If she had, I'm sure she would've ran for the hills. Luck strikes again.
But Suzie didn't look at the page count until she finished. And after we revised and edited and hacked away at the manuscript like old-timey jungle explorers with machetes, and it was still a whale, somehow Kari Sutherland at HarperTeen didn't check the page count either (403 pages, for those of you wondering). I got lucky while on submission, a place no author has the right to be lucky.
Then Suzie called me with the offer. I was driving a vehicle at the time and, again, luck intervened to make sure I didn't have a breakdown and hit a tree. Luck struck again exactly two weeks later when the movie option sold to Universal, after Pouya and the gladiators from Benderspink did battle with Hollywood. Of course I was happy just to have the option picked up, but the fact that it was Universal almost had me in tears (and I don't get emotional very often). The Universal globe logo is one of my first memories, because I was a child raised by the screen, and E.T. and Jurassic Park were some of my very strange parents.
If luck strikes again (which I know I have no right to hope for), and The Red Queen does make it to a movie theater near you, don't mind the girl openly sobbing in the back. It's just me.
p.s. Luck keeps rolling in somehow. As of today, RQ will officially be published in Brazil, Italy, Norway, and France, along with the United States. I swear to God, the New Leaf team is like the Avengers of lit agencies.