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Q&A with Deb Calletti | 2001 Fellowship, Literary

Artist Trust

Q: What are you currently working on?
A; I’m currently working on my fourteenth book, a novel for adults releasing from Random House in 2017.  I’m also preparing for the release of Essential Maps for the Lost, a young adult novel coming from Simon & Schuster in April of 2016. 
Q: What did you do with the award?
I was awarded the fellowship at a crucial turning point in my life – just before I was published and just after I was divorced. The award was used for much-needed living expenses at the time.
A: How has your practice changed since you received the award in 2001?
I’m a full-time professional writer now, so it’s changed significantly.  When I received the award, I was in the artist-with-a-dream stage of my career.  Now, writing and publishing books is what I do for a living.  I’ve been under contract for a book a year since 2002, so my writing time is very disciplined, and a novel moves fairly strictly along according to a calendar and deadlines.  As well, writing is only a small part of the job.  At any given time, I’m usually working on three books - I’m writing one, preparing the next release for publication, and promoting the most recent release.  My focus is no longer on writing madly to “get published” as I was in 2001.  Now, my goals are always to stretch further, stay creatively challenged, continue to learn, continue to write better and better.  I’ve come to understand that “getting published” is relatively easy compared to staying published, and my writing practice reflects that.  It may seem surprising, but I work harder at my writing now than I did then, even if my approach has evolved with years of experience.     
Q: What was the impact of this award / Artist Trust on your career / artistic life?
A: The award has always been my marker of “before” and “after.”  At the time I received it, I’d written four unpublished books, and Simon & Schuster was just about to finally, finally buy my fifth book.  I was awarded the fellowship in the hard year before I got “the call.” The fellowship gave me hope when I needed it, and the recognition encouraged me to keep going.  The Artist Trust fellowship was a vote of confidence, and – in the larger world, but even more importantly to myself - a mark of much-needed legitimacy.  It was the first time I felt like a “real” artist, and I’ll always be grateful for that. 

Deb Caletti is an award-winning author and National Book Award finalist. Her many books for young adults include “Stay,” “The Last Forever,” and “Honey, Baby Sweetheart,” winner of the Washington State Book award, the PNBA Best Book Award, and a finalist for the PEN USA Award.  Her books for adults include “He’s Gone,” and her latest release, “The Secrets She Keeps.” She lives with her family in Seattle.