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Success Story Interview - Amber Pierce

An Interview with Amber Pierce (Megrim on QT) upon receiving an offer of representation from agent Caitlin McDonald of Donald Maass Literary Agency.


QT: Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you've found representation? What inspired you to write it?
Amber Pierce:
THE PULL OF GRAVITY is a SF story about an idealistic revolutionary who falls in love with the Emperor he's meant to betray. A lot of the galactic backdrop was inspired by the Foundation books, but what I really wanted was a highly character-driven, emotional SF. My love of SF shows like Babylon 5 and BSG were huge influences.
QT: How long have you been writing?
Amber Pierce:
My mom likes to tell people how she has the first "book" I wrote when I was three. But really I started getting serious about writing while in vet school, so maybe 4 years ago now.
QT: How long have you been working on this book?
Amber Pierce:
Wow has it really been 4 years? There have been times, especially in vet school, where I went weeks to months without writing, so it's been on and off.
QT: Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
Amber Pierce:
A lot of times I felt the scope of the story and the non-linear structure were far too ambitious for a first novel. But it was the story I wanted to tell and I had confidence it would be good.
QT: Is this your first book?
Amber Pierce:
QT: Do you have any formal writing training?
Amber Pierce:
No. I took a creative writing class in college and I also watched Brandon Sanderson's lectures online, but my degrees were all in science.
QT: Do you follow a writing routine or schedule?
Amber Pierce:
Not currently, because of work. I would love to get on a more set schedule, and also have dedicated time for reading and critiquing.
QT: How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
Amber Pierce:
I probably did 4 distinct dafts, but I did so much fiddling, tweaking, and tightening in between. Some chapters have been redone 10 times and others are almost the same as the first draft.
QT: Did you have beta readers for your book?
Amber Pierce:
Yes, a combination of writers and non-writer friends who read the genre. I sent it to around 10 people and got feedback from maybe 6 or 7.
QT: Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
Amber Pierce:
I did outline this one due to the non-linear structure. I had a chapter list with the major events that would occur in each, so I could plan how things would fit together.
QT: How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
Amber Pierce:
I sent my first query on April 20 and I got my offer of rep on June 20. So 2 months exactly!
QT: About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
Amber Pierce:
QT: On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
Amber Pierce:
They had to state that they represent science fiction, otherwise I assumed they didn't. Pretty much I looked up the list of SF agents on MSWL and went straight down the line. I especially looked for agents that wanted diversity and LGBT leads.
QT: Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
Amber Pierce:
I did a little bit, mostly in the closing statements, but at the end of the day I wanted the writing/story to be the grabber so that's pretty much all I sent. I didn't do anything chatty like describe why I picked the agent. I know some agents like that, but I figured it would be apparent why I chose them by the content of the plot and characters.
QT: What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Amber Pierce:
Seize opportunities. I entered QueryKombat and #PitMad and that's really what got me my offers. Even though I'd never been in a contest or used Twitter much at all, I forced myself outside my comfort zone and it paid off. Goes to show how important it is to keep your feelers out--you have nothing to lose by trying, and everything to gain.

Query Letter:

Iari Lenerian wanted to help make the galaxy a better place. He was supposed to be a small cog in a big machine—an informant posing as a palace guard, that’s it. He didn’t mean to attract the Emperor’s attention, didn’t mean to gain his trust. And he didn’t mean to fall in love.

The rebellion that recruited him is going forward as planned. Iari is the only person who can get close to the Emperor—and the only mindfighter strong enough to challenge him. Iari still wants to see his impoverished homeworld free of Imperial exploitation, but he’s not ready to kill the man he loves. Desperate to keep him safe, Iari takes the Emperor hostage aboard the insurgent fleet.

The planet below isn’t so fortunate when Iari’s allies open fire in a last-minute change of plans. Suddenly the galaxy doesn't seem so black and white, and he's feeling more like a traitor than a revolutionary. The Emperor is heartbroken, systems are falling into civil war, and the insurgent leaders are as dangerous as they are powerful. With the destruction of a planet on his conscience and the Emperor's vengeful sister chasing them across space, Iari has to decide if fighting for his ideals is worth sacrificing everything he loves, and becoming a villain himself.

THE PULL OF GRAVITY, a science fiction novel of 122,000 words, is told through two alternating timelines, Before and After. It includes themes of romance, alien cultures, and a space battle or two.

Thank you for your time and consideration.