In March 2012 Chicago-based author and digital media strategist Monica Leonelle released Socialpunk, the first in her YA cyberpunk triology. Recently I interviewed Monica about her inspiration for Socialpunk, her love of YA books, and her advice for would-be authors. Here’s what she had to say.
Socialpunk is very reflective of today’s social media-driven world in terms of artists, curators, and influencers. To what degree did social media influence you throughout the creation of Socialpunk?
Heavily. It was one of my primary inspirations, actually. The Socialpunk’s world is definitely a physical incarnation of the digital world as it stands today.
The futuristic world Ima unexpectedly finds herself in is very eco-friendly. How do you hope society adopts sustainability more as time goes on?
This world, I believe, is eco-friendly because they have to be and because they can afford to be. The Scorched Years left them extremely exposed to the elements. Also their bodies *are* the machines now. So they can run a mile in maybe four minutes? On a regular basis. In a city as big as Chicago that’s faster and more direct than a car.
Where would you rather live: Chicago 2012 or Chicago 2198?
Chicago 2198, probably. I love the world the Socialpunks live in, even though it’s scary to us. I like to think that most people in the future lead regular lives rather than the lives that Nasser and the rest of the Socialpunks put themselves through.
What can readers expect from the sequels of Socialpunk?
Two perspectives—Ima’s and another character’s. I can’t say much more than that.
Like me, you’re still a fan of YA books. What draws you to this genre?
I like the touch of romance in YA books. I don’t feel like romance is that interesting as an adult, comparatively.
Will you continue writing YA books or do you plan on focusing on other audiences?
I would love to get a serialized fiction series going, more along the lines of Game of Thrones. That would have a broader audience of all ages. I plan to start outlining fairly soon, hopefully the end of April. It’s a challenge though, because everything has to be outlined before I start so all the delicious foreshadowing happens. Plus, I have no idea if people will buy serialized fiction. But I’m willing to take a chance.
What advice do you have for people who want to become authors?
Writers should learn marketing because they are either going the indie route or they are under fire to sell through on their advance with a traditional publisher. You can learn more about marketing your writing with my Free Writer Toolkit here: proseonfire.com/the-free-writer-toolkit.
More importantly, writers should inject their marketing directly into their manuscripts. Writers often think of marketing as this separate thing from writing, but it’s not at all. 80-90% of books are sold through word-of-mouth and most of the marketability of a book is right there in the manuscript.
So even if you are going the traditional route, if you are serious about getting published you should hire an editor to go through your book and see how marketable it is. Traditional publishers are looking for marketable books. It’s a business and they need to make money.