Interview with Author M.D. Waters

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Tomorrow I’ll be reviewing Prototype, M.D. Waters’ exciting followup to her debut novel Archetype. Since she’s been one of my favorite new authors of the year, I reached out to see if she would do an interview with me … and (obviously) she said yes! Cue happy dance music. Read on to find out more about her companion novels, her writing process, and her thoughts on being compared to Margaret Atwood. 

Can you tell us a little bit about Prototype?

Prototype begins a year and a half following the end of Archetype. Emma has what she hopes is her first solid lead to finding her parents. But just as she’s getting answers, her past reappears with a large offer for her return and forces her into hiding. A lot of the story is about finding a balance between who she was and who she’s become. Knowing that, she hopes to find where she belongs after everything she’s learned, while dealing with the various perceptions around her, both good and bad.

Was the experience of writing Prototype different than writing Archetype? Do you have a writing routine? 

The experience was very different. I can’t really describe it without sounding totally crazy, but here goes. When I wrote Archetype, Emma’s mind was quiet and paced and watchful. In Prototype I was basically writing a totally different character who was much more determined and driven and proactive in her decisions. The routine didn’t change. I wrote in various spots around the house, moving when writing felt routine and static. Always listening to a playlist on my iPhone on random and repeat.

Archetype and Prototype have been published very close together (with the prequel Antitype published online in between them) how did the decision to go with this unusual publishing schedule come about? What has it been like for you?

I actually had nothing to do with this. I think Dutton saw an opportunity to do something new, and knowing how quickly I wrote Archetype, they believed wholeheartedly that I could produce a sequel in little to no time. It was a pretty big gamble! I wasn’t as confident in my plans for Prototype and struggled with it for a few months.

Adding Antitype to the mix was my idea much later on. I discussed doing a novella with my agent and editor, but then when it came time to doing it, I wasn’t as passionate about the idea. Then while traveling to ABA and ALA back in January, the story started to come together…and I had less than a month to write it. I finished it in three weeks, and it’s above and beyond my favorite of the three.

Did you have favorite characters to write?

Undoubtedly my favorite characters to write were in Prototype. My first favorite was Dr. Phillip Malcolm. When he showed up randomly in a scene, he took over. Problem was, I was too far into the book for a new character. But I couldn’t get him out of my head. So I started the novel over and reworked the plot for him. Best decision I ever made. After him, writing Leigh, Miles, and Foster were always fun. Leigh and Miles especially. They have such a great friendship, and are so damn funny.

Did you know the ending of the books when you first started writing?

I did and didn’t. I wrote Archetype knowing Emma’s final decision, and even wrote her last scene very early on. The epilogue was totally different prior to selling the books to Dutton, because it actually ended the story. My agent, Jennifer Weltz, suggested I remove the epilogue and I surprised her with the new one. Going into Prototype, I had NO CLUE how the novel would end. I just knew that Emma’s story needed to have an actual conclusion.

Looking back what do you think you did right to break into this competitive business and become a published author?

There is no right or wrong. There’s timing and a hell of a lot of luck. I struggled to get agents to look at Archetype as much as I struggled with every other crappy novel I queried in the years prior. I finally got my first (ever!) request for a read, and she rejected me in three days. Upwards of thirty other agents flat-out rejected me. Months later, I’d given up when I heard from JVNLA. I’d been pulled from the slush by intern, now agent, Laura Biagi. She loved Archetype enough to pitch me to Jennifer, who saw my book’s potential. Once Archetype was ready to submit to publishers, Jennifer had my baby sold in a couple weeks.

If I did anything “right” with Archetype, it was that I was patient. I knew I had to be, because I knew this was the one. I edited until I literally saw nothing more to do. I found a submission coach (Cathy Yardley) who helped me prepare a query, synopsis, and the first fifty pages. After that, I just crossed my fingers.

I feel like this series is very comparable to the Margaret Atwood’s style of writing science fiction. Has she been an influence on you? Are there other authors who have influenced your writing?

This is probably the weirdest thing that’s happened to me… I never read Margaret Atwood until everyone started comparing my style to hers. And I’m nowhere as good as her! She blows my mind. I can only hope to one day reach her level.

I’ve also recently discovered Rick Yancey (The 5th Wave) and found his writing completely inspiring. It was like he patted me on the head, said Nice try, then showed me how a story should really be told.

Are you working on anything now (crossing my fingers you say yes!)?

YES! My mind never stops working, believe me. I’m currently writing two novels. One is a spinoff of Archetype and Prototype in Leigh’s point of view. At some point during Prototype she started talking to me and I knew she was heroine material. The second is a totally new dystopian/scifi series for young adults that I’m full on in love with. I really hope for the chance to introduce this to the world, because the heroine is awesome, and the hero is totally book boyfriend material.

Prototype will be released in one week on July 24th. You can preorder it on Amazon here, add it to you TBR list here, or read my review of the first novel in the duo here. Thanks for reading and happy Thursday! 

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