Some people dream their entire life about becoming a published author. Twenty-two-year-old Hope Bolinger has actually done it.
Hope received a contract for her YA novel Blaze during her junior year in college. The book will be coming out June 3, 2019, only a week from now and a few weeks after she walked across the stage to receive her diploma.
Hope worked hard to achieve her dream. She graduated early summa cum laude with a degree in Professional Writing. Over those years, she accumulated 300+ bylines in publications worldwide, worked for newspapers, publishing houses, and literary agencies, and penned more manuscripts than can be counted on two hands, including one book that was completed in nine days.
You might think Hope sounds like a literary Wonder Woman. And you would be right. But instead of setting an unattainable standard, Hope is here to encourage fellow writers that anyone can do it with hard work and grace… and a bit of silliness.
I set out to ask Hope some fascinating questions, and she did not disappoint. I wanted to know if there was any hope for goofball writers like me. Below, you’ll find her answers, with my (hopefully encouraging) comments beneath.
Q: What was your first full-length novel?
A: A very, very, very thinly veiled X-Men fanfiction titled “Glitch.” It’s floating on some poor fanfiction site. I wrote it at sixteen, and I never looked back. Because it would probably burn my eyes out.
[So you’re probably okay if your first try is awful.]
Q: What is the wackiest thing you’ve published?
A: Oooh, this is a toss-up. I did once publish a flash fiction about a person who forgot to study and said, “Oh this is all a dream.” And then it turned out it wasn’t. Dabbling in horror, I guess.
But I could also say a WWII Veteran’s memoir I co-wrote my sophomore year of college (published by Taylor University Press) could top that list. It wasn’t weird or wacky, but I had no idea what the heck I was doing. So that’s kind of fun.
[So you don’t have to limit yourself. Maybe I’ll try my hand at sci-fi.]
Q: What is the strangest thing you’ve ever done for your writing?
A: Besides a shady search history, I once went to England for research. Granted, I may or may not have also been studying abroad to get an English credit, but I subsequently set the next book in London, so I would call that a strange coincidence.
[So, what I’m seeing is that any experience could be writing material.]
Q: What’s the most extra thing you’ve done to market your writing?
A: When Alyssa and I cosplayed as our characters from Dear Hero. Best Halloween ever. Even got to fight with fake swords and everything.
[Ah, yes. That was fun. Not sure how effective it was, but you might as well have some fun and try some things. Marketing stinks, but it can be as fun as you’re willing to make it.]
Q: Badly summarize Blaze in one sentence.
A: A boi throws up as things catch on fiyahhh.
[Life lesson: a good hook is essential to do justice to a story. I’ll remember this when “Umm, it’s a book about… people” comes out of my mouth when I’m trying to explain one of my projects.]
Q: Who is your favorite character in Blaze? The weirdest character?
A: Ah, we have a two for one deal.
I love Hannah Shad. She wears weird things, has a slight inkling toward murdering things, and loves to butcher children’s books at speech tournaments. She’s everything I wish I could be and more. If Tumblr, Hot Topic, and April from Parks and Rec had a child, you’d have Hannah.
[So apparently your characters don’t need to be… conventional.]
Hope is a girl on fire. (Because, you know, Blaze? Heh heh…) But no matter how young you are, how silly you are, or how terrible the first attempt, Hope is an example of the success that can come when you keep working hard and don’t give up.
Blaze peels back the curtains of our world’s desires, and reveals the beasts lurking behind. Packed with relevant topics and worldview, the book draws readers into a white-knuckle adventure where anything can happen—and anything can go wrong. Hope Bolinger delivers a fiery page-turner perfect for students and pyromaniacs, and shows what happens when we’re called into the lions’ den. – Caroline George, author of The Vestige
Hope Bolinger is a literary agent at C.Y.L.E. and a recent graduate of Taylor University’s professional writing program. More than 300 of her works have been featured in various publications ranging from Writer’s Digest to Keys for Kids. She has worked for various publishing companies, magazines, newspapers, and literary agencies and has edited the work of
authors such as Jerry B. Jenkins and Michelle Medlock Adams. Her column “Hope’s Hacks”, tips and tricks to avoid writer’s block, reaches 2,700+ readers weekly and is featured monthly on Cyle Young’s blog, which receives 63,000+ monthly hits. She is excited for her modern-day Daniel, Blaze, to come out with IlluminateYA (an imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the
Carolinas). Find her on social media @hopebolinger.
One thought on “Twenty-two and Published: Interview with YA Author Hope Bolinger”
Congrats on the publication, Hope! This was all SO motivating. As someone who loves writing unconventional characters and occasionally stepping out of my genre comfort zone, reading all this was very inspiring. (Also I totally loved the story about you guys cosplaying as your characters. You’re right, there’s no reason marketing can’t be a fun and creative part of the author life too!)
Thank you both for sharing! I loved this!