Success Story Interview - A.P. Thayer

An Interview with A.P. Thayer (apthayer on QT) upon receiving an offer of representation from agent Helen Lane 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?
A.P. Thayer:
I found representation for my book Nagual, a grimdark fantasy noir story set in a Mesoamerican science-fantasy metropolis. It's set in a much larger world I've been writing in for many years, but this particular story was inspired by my love for Mexico City.
QT: How long have you been writing?
A.P. Thayer:
I started taking my writing seriously by pursuing a career in it in August 2016
QT: How long have you been working on this book?
A.P. Thayer:
I started playing with the idea of this story in April 2020.
QT: Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
A.P. Thayer:
There wasn't a point where I wanted to give up on this story, but after 100 queries, I had come to the conclusion that I was not going to get representation on this book, which was okay! Lots of people don't. I kept querying though, mostly for practice and to give the book something to do while I was working on my next projects.
QT: Is this your first book?
A.P. Thayer:
This is the first book I queried, but not the first I've written.
QT: Do you have any formal writing training?
A.P. Thayer:
QT: Do you follow a writing routine or schedule?
A.P. Thayer:
Most of the year, I write every weekday morning for 1-1.5 hours at a coffee shop. There will be ebbs and flows, where sometimes I write extra sessions during the week, or weeks where I only write or edit a little, but that's about my average.
QT: How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
A.P. Thayer:
There was somewhere between 4 and 6 drafts/edits/rewrites for this book with two rounds of beta readers in there.
QT: Did you have beta readers for your book?
A.P. Thayer:
Ha, yes, I did. I had two rounds of them.
QT: Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
A.P. Thayer:
I really struggled in the beginning with this book. I ended up over-outlining it in the very beginning and had to really "find the fun" with exploration writing in later drafts because I was so frustrated and burned out.
QT: How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
A.P. Thayer:
I queried this book for 15 months, with over 150 queries sent. I have not queried any other books.
QT: About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
A.P. Thayer:
I sent north of 150 queries.
QT: On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
A.P. Thayer:
I narrowed my list to agents in the US who repped fantasy. Then, when it was time to send out a batch of queries, I would look at their MSWL and bios. I made sure not to self reject, which meant I sent to a lot of agents who might not have been looking for exactly this type of story, but I figured that was their decision to make, not mine.
QT: Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
A.P. Thayer:
I changed my query very little between agents. There were only a handful where I found something meaningful to personalize, usually having to do with their background or specific things they asked for in their MSWL. I would say the number of times I did that was less than 15.
QT: What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
A.P. Thayer:
This whole process is about tenacity. You can't give up. If you don't make it with one book, you write another and query that one. And you keep going. So much about this profession is timing and that's not something you can control other than being there, doing the work, and putting yourself out there as often as possible.
QT: Would you be willing to share your query with us?
A.P. Thayer:

Query Letter:

Dear agent,

Falwar swears he is not a violent man—despite the demon trapped inside him and the bloody trail of bodies in his past. But he’s left behind his mercenary, monster-hunting ways, intent on redemption. When he kicks in the wrong door to find a missing boy, though, he earns the attention of Lirium’s most dangerous crime lord, the tattooed man. It isn’t long before Falwar is dragged to the Underdocks and executed—a violent end for a violent man.

Or is it?

When an inhuman sorcerer brings Falwar back from the dead, hoping to use his caged demon for their own war against humans, the ex-mercenary has a chance for vengeance. He just needs to get free from the sorcerer and their army of monsters—monsters he once hunted for a living—and carve a path through the criminal underworld to get to his target. In a city whose entire philosophy is live-and-let-die, Falwar will leave a trail of bodies, from corrupt officials to dangerous criminals, all while fighting his caged demon for control over his own body, just so he can get a shot at revenge. Or redemption.

Nagual is an approximately 81k word grimdark fantasy novel with diverse and inclusive representation, set in a gritty, science-fantasy urban sprawl inspired by Mexico City. It will appeal to readers who enjoy the morally gray and vengeful characters of Joe Abercrombie’s Best Served Cold, the noir-punk style of Richard K. Morgan’s Altered Carbon, and readers desperate for Latine speculative fiction and Mesoamerican influences in fantasy.

I am a queer, Mexican-American living in Los Angeles and a full member of SFWA and HWA. My work has appeared in Dark Matter Magazine, Space Fantasy Magazine, Uncharted Magazine, Neon Hemlock, the Los Suelos multi-media anthology, and several others. I was co-host on The Genre Hustle (a speculative writing podcast), am a frequent guest on The Act Break Podcast, was a staff member at Constelacíon Magazine, and recently guest-edited an issue of Para el Pueblo by Tree & Stone Magazine, which will be coming out in May 2023. My work, blog, and social media links can all be found at

This will be my debut novel.

I appreciate the opportunity to query you and thank you for your time.

A.P. Thayer (he/him)