Publishing Young: Inside the Mind of Isabel Kaplan
Posted by inkpopbecki on September 22, 2010
Sure we all dream of writing that first novel and immediately landing a publishing deal all before we’re twenty, but how many of us can say we’ve actually done it? Isabel Kaplan can. Want to find out more? Join our inkpop forum live chat today at 5 p.m. EST.
How did you come up with the idea for Hancock Park?
The inspiration for Hancock Park was in many ways my own adolescence. I grew up in Los Angeles, and I wanted to write a story about the social world I inhabited. This doesn’t mean that Hancock Park is about me and that I am Becky Miller. Drawing certain parallels is inevitable (I attended a school much like Whitbread, and I have parents who are divorced…), but all of the characters are fictional.
You wrote the first draft of this novel when you were seventeen years old. How similar is this final version to the one you first created?
I started writing Hancock Park when I was fifteen, and in some ways, the final version turned out to be similar—Becky’s parents still get divorced, she still takes way too many anti-depressants, she still struggles with fitting in at her private school, and she still has a crazy grandmother. On the other hand, when I first started working on the book, Becky was fourteen years old instead of sixteen. As anyone who has been a teenaged girl would probably agree, there are some pretty major differences between being fourteen and being sixteen, so when I aged Becky up, her storyline changed significantly.
Did you try to get an agent or publisher as soon as you finished the first draft of the novel? What were the responses that you initially received? How long did it ultimately take you to find an agent and sign a publishing deal?
My path to publication was a very non-traditional one. I was offered a book deal for Hancock Park a few weeks after I finished my sophomore year of high school. At that point, I had only written about fifteen pages. Judith Regan read the pages and decided to take a chance on me. It was an incredibly exciting experience.
What do you think are the advantages to being a young author? Are there any disadvantages? If so what do you feel the disadvantages might be?
I love being a young author. I’ve always wanted to write, and I am grateful that I have had the opportunity to start doing so professionally at such a young age. I’m still developing and growing as a writer and still working on finding my voice, and the idea that a lot of my early writing is out in public is a little scary—sometimes I find myself looking back at things I wrote years ago and thinking about how, if I were to write about the same subject now, I’d approach it completely differently–but I think those concerns are probably the case no matter how old you are.