San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

March 2nd, 2011
Grad student inks 3-book deal for fantasy series

by ANN FRIOU

Heather Anastasiu, a graduate student in English at Texas State University, has signed a three-book deal with St. Martin’s Press to publish her trilogy for young adults, a fantasy series titled Glitch.

Anastasiu

The first volume will come out in summer 2012, and the next two volumes will follow at nine-month intervals. Publishers in Germany, France, and Russia have also bought the rights to publish Glitch in translation.

The trilogy, which Anastasiu describes as “1984 meets X-Men,” presents a dystopian society in which people are controlled by computer chips implanted in their brains. When 17-year-old Zoe Gray’s hardware malfunctions, she develops powerful telekinesis and finds other “glitchers” with superpowers such as x-ray vision, shape-shifting, and the ability to see the future.

Together, they plan their escape from the controlling society but soon learn there is a powerful faction at work whose ambitions threaten their success.

Anastasiu, 28, grew up in Kyle.  She is an avid reader of young adult fantasy and says she has wanted to write dystopian fiction since she read George Orwell’s 1984 while attending Jack C. Hays High School. A dystopia is a society characterized by repressive social control systems.

“’1984′ was one of the first books I read in school that was as good as the books I liked to read for fun,” she said.  “The story of the illegal love relationship that occurs within the confines of a controlled society was so startling that it made me cry.  And, as a teenager at the time, I connected to the characters’ attempt to find freedom and their failure to subvert authority.

“I like the young adult fantasy genre because it’s about imagined worlds and the often rebellious and subversive process of searching for one’s identity.  These are powerful themes. Also, the genre generally combines quality writing with good storytelling,” said Anastasiu.

Anastasiu, who is writing her master’s thesis on young adult fantasy literature, composes her novels during vacation breaks.  She wrote the first installment of Glitch in July 2010 and has written 20,000 words of the second book in the trilogy.

“It isn’t hard to get started, and I’ve never had writer’s block because creative writing is such a joy,” she said. “Once I get started, it takes a week to get into the groove, but once I’m in the groove I can usually have the first draft of a book written within a month.”

Anastasiu said she does her best work at coffee shops and late-night restaurants where she often produces 2,000 words in one or two hours while listening to music through headphones.

“I really like the energy in coffee shops.  I can look up and see the activity around me, and the driving beat of the music helps the words flow,” she said.

Anastasiu began writing seriously about four years ago, and has published short pieces in literary magazines. Before finding a publisher for Glitch, she wrote “two very bad novels and then one not as bad novel,” all of which publishers rejected.  “So much of the publication process is rejection, rejection, rejection. But in every rejection, I’ve tried to understand what I’ve needed to change.”

Ironically, one of Anastasiu’s rejections was from Texas State’s Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing, when she applied for admission three years ago. She enrolled instead in the Master of Arts in Literature program.

“I took the rejection as evidence that I wasn’t good enough yet as a writer and that I needed to keep working.  One of the biggest reasons I’ve gotten to this level of writing is my ability to incorporate critique without being egotistical about my work. I’ve taken each rejection as a means to push myself further, to learn more, or to start another project,” she said.

While Anastasiu’s plan was always to be a writer, she hopes to pursue a Ph.D. after she completes the Glitch trilogy. She will complete her master’s degree in Dec. 2011.  Her husband, David, will complete a master’s degree in computer science at Texas State in August.

About the impending publication of Glitch, Anastasiu said, “I’m breathing in relief that I’ll be able to take care of my family a little bit better.  One of my professors, novelist Debra Monroe, congratulated me on my book deal and said there’s nothing like the sale of your first book.”

— FROM TEXAS STATE NEWS SERVICE

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