CCU's Lisa Borne Graves publishes second novel via Twitter pitch party
by Rob Sperduto
From the first word to the completed manuscript, a novelist’s career often starts and ends with the pitch. For Lisa Borne Graves, however, having struck success as a Twitter-published novelist whose tweet fostered a working relationship with an independent press, the pitch is her springboard. As a result of a 280-character presentation, Graves is set to publish five young adult novels in the next two years.
Just months after publishing her first novel, “Apidae” (2018), Graves, lecturer of composition in the Department of English, published “Fyr” in July 2019, the first in an upper-YA series titled “Celestial Spheres.” The novel follows Toury, a 17-year-old loner, and Alex, the cursed prince of Fyr, both in need of a fresh start. Together, they must set aside their differences to thwart the evil that threatens to turn everything to ash in a magical world where a prince’s love is deadly and female autonomy is a dream.
Graves, who graduated from CCU with a B.A. in English and dramatic arts (’03) and from the College of Charleston and Citadel collaborative master’s degree program with an M.A. in English (’08), said she generated the idea for the “Celestial Spheres” universe through a writing prompt, an Italian philosophy book she’d studied in a graduate British novel course, and a dream about a magical prince.
“Basically, I just wanted a writing prompt, and the concept of ‘Celestial Spheres’ came to me,” said Graves. “In graduate school, I was writing a paper on A.S. Byatt’s “Possession” and saw Italian philosopher Giambattista Vico was mentioned. This led to research about his cyclical history theory, which I discovered was a theme and the actual plot construction of the book. On my quest to learn more about Italian philosophy, I found Copernicus’ “De revolutionibus orbium coelestium” (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres). And part of the idea came from a dream, of a prince who had fire magic; it just kind of fell together.”
Graves has now struck publishing success twice using social media as a community platform. For “Apidae” and “Fyr,” Graves participated in #Pitch2Pub and #PitMad, two Twitter pitching “parties” held within Twitter’s writing community. Authors pitch their completed manuscripts to publishers and agents in 280 characters or less; if the publishers “like” the author’s pitch, authors proceed to forward a query for consideration.
Graves is grateful for the opportunity to work with small publishing presses, as she considers them more supportive than larger presses, an industry that felt more restrictive on her work.
“There’s a huge market right now through small presses,” Graves said. “Both indie presses or smaller independent presses are booming like crazy, and traditional publishing, which is everybody’s dream, is getting more and more commercialized and formulaic, and there’s not much freedom.”
Graves began writing realistic fiction with her novella “Dare,” which was published in the anthology “Kissed” (2018), and did not anticipate the transition into genre fiction. However, as the idea of writing a fantasy formed, she was up for the challenge.
“I actually like to write in all different genres,” Graves said. “It’s a challenge for me. I started contemporary and then I did dystopian. It all starts with an idea, and the idea I had just forced me to make it fantasy.”
Graves is no stranger to the fantasy genre, however, with interests ranging from British literature and modern American literature to mythology. In fact, her young adult paranormal romance series, “The Immortal Transcripts,” will transport readers to a world of Greek gods. As Graves continues to work on “Celestial Spheres” and “The Immortal Transcripts” simultaneously, she plans to publish the sequels on a rotating schedule. “Quiver,” book two of “The Immortal Transcripts,” will release in February 2020, with “Draca,” book two of “Celestial Spheres,” set for July 2020.
Print editions of Graves’ novels are available through Amazon, with digital editions on Amazon Kindle, Apple Books, and additional ebook platforms. For more information on Graves, visit her blog where she posts book reviews and writing advice, including discussions about her upcoming novels.