Sometimes the straight and narrow path to becoming a published author is anything but that. For young adult author Elisa Ludwig, being crooked is a good thing. With two novels under her belt, and a third on the way, she’s headed in the right direction and has been doing so for a long time.
“I knew from a very early age – probably about seven or eight (that I wanted to write). I was an avid reader, starting from age three. When we got our first household computer, I wrote my own newspaper called The Elisa Bulletin and printed that out and sold it to family and friends. But I also wrote lots of journals, poems and short stories about haunted houses.”
Ludwig, who started writing young adult fiction five years ago, makes writing her life in the sense that it is her identity and her passion.
“I never really wanted to do anything else. It’s not always easy – I’m pretty sure there are much more straightforward ways to make a living – but it always it helps me make order and sense out of things and so it seems like a very good way to spend my days.”
It was during a summer workshop that Ludwig showed a story she wrote to the author Julia Glass, who told her that she thought her voice would be a good fit for YA.
“At that point, it never occurred to me to write for teens specifically, but once I started to read all of the amazing stuff out there, I knew it was where I wanted to be. I love that the audience is so fervent about reading, and that books really matter to readers at that stage of their life.”
It took about a year to write her first novel. At the time, Ludwig wasn’t totally committed to the whole process. Scared and doubtful of what she was doing, Ludwig went off track a few times. The painful experience was fueled by a feeling that she didn’t know what she was doing and that the story wasn’t very good. Consequently, she shelved the story after sending it around to eight agents.
“No one took me on but I got enough positive feedback that I decided to keep going. A year later, I sent out my next book, June of Rock, which landed me my agent, Leigh Feldman, right away.”
In spite of the story being back by a Writer’s House agent, June of Rock wasn’t picked up by any of the 15 editors it was submitted to. However, feedback was positive and so Ludwig proceeded to self-publish it as an ebook.
“In the meantime, that process opened up a dialogue with my now-editor about the idea for Pretty Crooked. Eventually, we got the go-ahead, and here we are!
Pretty Crooked is about Willa and her secret plan to take from the rich kids at Valley Prep and give to the poor ones. However, Willa’s self-made Robin Hood persona at her new high school is anything but that. She bilks her “friends” who are known as the Glitterati, without them suspecting a thing. The process is anything but easy. Neither is learning how to break into lockers and Beemers. But delivering care packages to the scholarship girls who are bullied just for being different is extremely fun!
However, when Aidan Murphy, Valley Prep’s most notorious ace-degenerate distracts Willa from what matters most to her, she finds the cops beginning to investigate the string of thefts at school and the Glitterati starting to seek revenge. With no one to turn to, could Aidan end up being the person Willa trusts most?
It sounds like a crookedly good read, with a sequel on the way and Ludwig starting to hammer out the details of Book 3 in the series. She is also keeping busy with another YA manuscript, as well as a full-time gig as a freelance copywriter and journalist.
“The fiction work is starting to creep in more and more, but I write a lot on weekends, too.”
It appears that Ludwig welcomes the constant wordage in her life.