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Success Story Interview - Ambrielle Butler

An Interview with Ambrielle Butler (BamBam42 on QT) upon receiving an offer of representation from agent Andie Smith of The Booker Albert 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?
Ambrielle Butler:
When two children go missing along with their babysitter, grieving private investigator, Melinda, must unravel the secrets surrounding the Walter family or risk losing the children and her redemption.

I’ve always loved thrillers and knew I wanted to try my hand at writing one of my own. This book is an exploration of grief, motherhood, and reclaiming identity after a tragedy. It was heart wrenching to write at times and involved tapping into my own worst fears as a parent, but in the end, I think it paid off.
QT: How long have you been writing?
Ambrielle Butler:
I’ve been writing books since I was 7 years old, but didn’t fully commit to writing as a potential career until after I became a mother. I started writing again as a way of processing all the new emotions that came with motherhood and haven’t stopped writing since.
QT: How long have you been working on this book?
Ambrielle Butler:
I started writing this book at the end of 2021. I took a year to write and edit before sending an initial round of queries in 2022. After some helpful agent feedback, I did a rewrite of the book in 2023. I started querying with my new version in April and signed with my agent in November.
QT: Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
Ambrielle Butler:
Absolutely! There were so many times where it felt like I was close, but never quite good enough to land an agent. I have to give a huge shoutout to my incredibly supportive partner, family members, and friends who cheered me on every step of the way. It helped give me the courage and grit to keep going.
QT: Is this your first book?
Ambrielle Butler:
Yes, it’s my first novel, though I did try querying some picture books years ago.
QT: How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
Ambrielle Butler:
I did three rounds of edits before I sent my first queries and my book was NOT ready. My main character was a bit muted and her motivations weren’t clear. When a very kind agent explained this to me after reading a partial, I did a complete rewrite of the book and started querying again (with much more success) in April.
QT: Did you have beta readers for your book?
Ambrielle Butler:
Yes, and they were amazing! A huge shoutout to every beta reader who took the time to read my book and give me feedback (especially my early beta readers who read my super rough second draft). A good beta reader is invaluable, and it helped motivate me to keep querying when beta readers enjoyed my book.
QT: Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
Ambrielle Butler:
I do a bit of both. First drafts tend to be written from the hip. It’s all about finding the story. Second and third drafts are when I break out the flash cards and use the “Save the Cat” beat sheet to make sure I have a strong outline.
QT: How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
Ambrielle Butler:
For this book, I queried a little over a year with a hiatus in the middle to do my rewrite. I queried three different picture books for two years before querying this novel.
QT: About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
Ambrielle Butler:
100. After the wait times I experienced from my picture books, I knew I wanted to query widely and all at once. I made my list of agents I’d want to work with (and luckily it was a long list as there’s many qualified agents who represent thrillers), and I sent off my queries in a large batch.
QT: On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
Ambrielle Butler:
I looked at similar books they’d represented, researched the agencies‘ sales, and scoured manuscript wishlists to make sure the agent was a good fit.
QT: Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
Ambrielle Butler:
No, I didn’t for most of them. If there was an author the agent represented that I was a big fan of, I’d add in a sentence letting them know, but for most agents I did not personalize.
QT: What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Ambrielle Butler:
Don’t give up! If you believe in your story, you will find someone else who believes in it too. It only takes one yes to change everything. Keep going.

Query Letter:


Everyone is a suspect—a mother who can’t seem to get her story straight; the nosy next-door neighbor; the sleazy boss; the jaded former nanny; the mysterious woman following Melinda around town. The one thing everyone agrees on? No one really knows the victims as well as they think they do.

THE SCARS WE CARRY is a 76,000 word adult thriller with LGBTQ+ rep comparable in tone and setting to The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave, with the sinister neighborhood tension of The Therapist by B. A. Paris and the dysfunctional family drama in Not A Happy Family by Shari Lapena.

After the accidental death of her daughter, Melinda swore she would never let anyone rely on her again. That is, until the newly-divorced private investigator receives a mysterious note hiring her to investigate the disappearance of two children and their widowed neighbor who had been babysitting. When Melinda’s reluctance results in a dead body in her kitchen, she is catapulted into the case. Conflicting evidence obscures the truth as Melinda tries to unravel the sinister secrets surrounding the Walter family. Grappling with her own grief and working against the police (including the charming detective, Natalie, who Melinda worries she may be falling for), Melinda must decide who she can trust, knowing that if she chooses wrong, she runs the fatal risk of losing both the missing children and her chance at redemption.