Author Schuyler J. Ebersol is only in his first year of college, but already he’s a very prolific writer with an incredible story. His first book, The Hidden World: Book One (Age of Tolerance), will be published December 1 of this year. Here’s the official description:
Nate Williams was found wandering alone in the woods at the age of six. He suffers a heart attack at the age of seventeen, which profoundly changes his body and soul—he becomes a shifter, assuming the shape of a wolf. He is sent to the Noble College, where changing into an animal is normal and classes are about altering the weather or changing nature rather than math.
Nate quickly realizes that there is more going on at Noble than meets the eye. When a series of murders around the country threaten the secrecy of the Hidden World, Nate and his friends take it upon themselves to figure out what is going on and bring the killers to justice.
Schuyler was kind enough to answer a few questions, about his life as a writer, his process, and advice for aspiring authors.
S.R.: You have an incredibly inspiring story. On your website it says you had a disorder called Autonomic Neuropathy, brought on by Lyme’s Disease, and that it lasted three years, during which you suffered from fainting spells, fatigue, pain and difficulty eating, weakness, lightheadedness, and confusion. Yet during that time you were able to write four books. What kept you motivated to write? And did you write anything before?
S.J.: I was motivated to write because I love to write. Writing was what kept me going, kept me sane. Writing is the easiest thing in the world for me; it just flows. I was able to just sit down and get lost in a world that was entirely my own where anything could happen. When I was sick this was so important for me, because I didn’t have a social life, I couldn’t go out and do anything, all I had were the worlds that I had created. I didn’t need to be motivated to keep writing, because I didn’t know what was going to happen in the book, just like the reader, and I was eager to find out. The book flows from me and although I may eventually get a rough idea, I never really know how its going to end or what will happen in between. I began stories before writing my first novel, the Hidden World. I wrote a forty-page beginning to a novel two years before and wrote little bits in between, but I only really began to write seriously with my first novel.
S.R.: What inspired you to write The Hidden World? How did you come up with the story?
S.J.: I wrote the Prologue, what I call the Before, without any idea of where it would go. At that point it was just a short story about a mysterious boy found wondering alone in the woods. Then I wrote the first chapter and I just kept going. The story came through me. I knew that we only use ten percent of our brains and I took the idea and ran with it, but the story was never planned, it just happened.
S.R.: On your website it says once you revised your query you had agents requesting your novel. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
S.J.: Being an aspiring author is not easy. Writing the novel is the easiest part, but after that it gets a lot harder. My only advice for an aspiring author is just to perceiver. There will be a lot of rejection and you just have to learn to pick out and ignore the ones that don’t matter, and pay attention to the ones who are really saying something important. Don’t listen to the ones who rag on your work without detail, only pay attention to the ones that explain why they didn’t like your work. From that point you must think about what they said, and objectively apply it to your work to see if they are right, if they are, then fix it. A lot of the criticism I got when I was rejected for the first eight months and much longer after that, was good criticism and I used it to make the novel better. Always remember your product is not perfect and never will be, just keep making it better until it is discovered.
S.R.: Why do you love to write? What is your process?
S.J.: I love to write because I love to experience the story. It isn’t a challenge for me. It’s not like writing a paper. I watch the book in my mind as a write it. I am able to just jump into a world that is entirely my own. I have a rough idea what is going on after about a hundred pages, but for those first hundred pages I am flying blind. I don’t know what the plot really is or where it is going I just have to know that it will just appear to me one day, and it always does. It’s just as exciting for me as it is for the reader. I don’t have a process—I just sit down and write and the story flows.
S.R.: How much time do you spend writing?
S.J.: The time I spending writing varies completely. When writing my fourth novel, a five hundred page book that I finished in a month and a half, I wrote about an hour or two a day. That’s pretty average for me when I am writing a novel. Sometimes it reaches four, but it just comes so quickly I don’t need to devote too much time to it. I never want to force it, and usually I can do up to 10-15 pages a day without doing that. When I’m not writing a book, I may go weeks without writing anything. I might sit down and write the beginning of a book or jot down a new idea, but I never know when the right idea will strike and I will jump back into a rigorous writing schedule.
S.R.: You’re now in your first year at the University of Virginia. What’s it like balancing writing with school?
S.J.: The University of Virginia is a fantastic place. There is so much to learn and so much to do that it is difficult to find time to write, then again I go months and months without writing and then write a book in two months. I don’t know if I am not writing a novel right now because I am busy, or just because I don’t have the right idea yet. The more difficult thing right now is balancing school with promoting the book and just a month ago, editing it as well. I just know I have to do my school work, and I have to do my work for the book, both are equally important to me so I get them done, but I won’t pretend it’s easy. Writing is more of a hobby for me, its something I get to do, not something I have to, so I only slip it in when I have the time and I want to.
S.R.: On your website it says you’ve just finished your fifth book, The Paradise Paradox. What’s next?
S.J.: I am very proud of the Paradise Paradox. It is my first novel written for adults and is a lot crisper and shorter than my earlier books. My agent, Leticia Gomez, is currently shopping the Paradise Paradox and my third book, Out of the Ashes, around to publishers while my fourth book sits on a shelf waiting for its turn. I have no idea what’s next. The idea could strike me tomorrow and I could be a hundred pages into a novel by next week. At some point I will have to begin work on the third book in the Age of Tolerance Series, the first being the Hidden World, but because I wrote the second over two years ago, I have some time to do other things first.