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Success Story Interview - Auden Patrick

An Interview with Auden Patrick (not_the_poet on QT) upon receiving an offer of representation from agent Shannon Lechon of Jennifer Azantian 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?
Auden Patrick:
THOUGHTS BE BLOODY is a messy, magical, and queer reimagining of Hamlet centered around Horatio, a trans student at magical Elsinore University whose magic always goes a little haywire. Caught in a revenge plot, a curse, and something like love, Horatio must destroy the school before the school destroys him first. Magic schools, dark academia, and Shakespeare were all obvious inspirations for this novel, but my love of unreliable narrators and weird narrative structures also played a part. I wrote this book because it was the kind of thing I wanted to read, and I think chasing down your obsessions in your writing is very important.
QT: How long have you been writing?
Auden Patrick:
I started writing my first novel the summer between 5th and 6th grade. I never finished it, but I've been writing ever since.
QT: How long have you been working on this book?
Auden Patrick:
I started TBB halfway through Camp Nanowrimo, July 2021, after I scrapped 10k words of a monster road trip novel that I still love but which will likely never see the light of day. I've been working on TBB ever since.
QT: Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
Auden Patrick:
I'm sure there were times I felt like giving up while drafting, but I've apparently forgotten them in the romantic haze of having completed a draft and several revisions. Nostalgia colors my view when looking back on my first draft, and I can't imagine having struggled with it. However, I definitely felt like giving up while querying. My friends, both those I know in real life and those I know through Team No Hinges (otherwise known as the Unhinged Discord), believed in me even when I didn't believe in myself. Their belief kept me on track.
QT: Do you have any formal writing training?
Auden Patrick:
I am currently pursuing an MFA in creative writing!
QT: How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
Auden Patrick:
I re-wrote the novel completely from scratch once (my 2nd draft), then revised 3-4 times before signing, and will likely revise a few more times with Shannon before going on submission.
QT: Did you have beta readers for your book?
Auden Patrick:
Yes! I only did one round with beta readers, but I had about 6 readers in that round. A couple of those readers were specifically positivity pass readers (which meant I asked them to only leave compliments and praise for my work), and I think that really helped balance out the knee-jerk "ouch" reaction from getting constructive feedback from the other readers.
QT: Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
Auden Patrick:
A little of both? I outline vigorously, then I often end up writing away from the outline so I find myself outlining again in the new direction the story has taken. I try not to be too beholden to my own outline is what I mean.
QT: How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
Auden Patrick:
This is the first novel I've ever managed to finish, let alone the first book I've gotten query-ready. I started querying at the end of August 2022.
QT: About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
Auden Patrick:
I sent 56 queries total. A little over half of those were sent before I got the email from Shannon to set up a call. I did a big yeet of the second half before the call, just in case it was an offer. (Good thing it was!)
QT: Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
Auden Patrick:
I did personalize my query to some! If my novel matched a particular aspect of that agent's MSWL or if they liked my twitter pitch, I highlighted that in my query. Otherwise, I mostly just sent a standard base query to everyone. My query to Shannon was personalized, however!
QT: What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Auden Patrick:
Please find a community that can boost you up when you need it, and in which you can boost others. Doing too much of one or the other (expecting people to boost you up, or just boosting others) can wear you out fast in the query trenches. Find friends who are also querying with whom you can come up together. Find somewhere other than twitter you can vent about the process (such as a discord community!). If you can't find one, seriously consider building your own. I created the Unhinged Discord on a whim, and I wouldn't be here without that community.
QT: Would you be willing to share your query with us?
Auden Patrick:
Of course! Please find it below:

Query Letter:

Dear Mx. Shannon Lechon,

Thank you for liking my pitch during #DVpit earlier this month:

[here I included the text of my twitter pitch]

I noticed your interest in unreliable narrators on Manuscript Wishlist, so I am pleased to present you with THOUGHTS BE BLOODY, a 105k-word #ownvoices queer and trans adult contemporary fantasy inspired by the tragedy of Hamlet. It will appeal to fans of the magical school setting of Lev Grossman’s The Magicians and the obsessive, romantic friendship of Micah Nemerever’s These Violent Delights. During #DVpit, [X editor at Y imprint] and [A editor at B imprint] expressed interest in seeing this manuscript once I have representation.

Horatio Bithersea didn’t mean to find Carson Hamlett cradling his dead father’s bloody body in the library of Elsinore University, one of the most prestigious and secretive magical universities in the world. Horatio has enough problems on his own without getting involved with Hamlett and the unsolved murder. Like the fact that every spell he casts somehow turns deadly. All he wants is to graduate alive, in peace, and in control over his own magic. But everything changes a year after the murder, when the ghost of Hamlett’s father appears and demands that Horatio and Hamlett destroy Elsinore—or be haunted forever.

Bound together by the ghost’s demand, Horatio and Hamlett must work together to find out who killed Hamlett’s father (getting revenge and unraveling deeply buried campus secrets) before the curse drives them out of their minds. Drunk on power, Horatio finds himself falling harder and harder for his mysterious and charismatic new roommate, even going so far as to magically tie his fate to Hamlett’s—until Hamlett goes a step too far and murders a professor in cold blood.

The question is not if Horatio will manage to destroy Elsinore. The question is if Hamlett will destroy him first.

I am currently pursuing an MFA in creative writing, which I believe is the closest I can get to studying magic in the real world.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Auden Patrick