Success Story Interview - Aya Maguire

An Interview with Aya Maguire (ayamaguire on QT) upon receiving an offer of representation from agent Stuti Telidevara of Park & Fine Literary and Media.


QT: Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you've found representation? What inspired you to write it?
Aya Maguire:
Basically it's about fated-mates questioning the existence of such magic, shifter-dragon style. I've always been drawn to questions of fate and free-will, and for me the concept of fated mates, or soul-mates, is both completely irresistible and also deeply horrifying, so I wanted to explore that on-page. What happens when two people are tied together by destiny, but have different ideas of what should happen next? What happens if they're intensely attracted to each other but don't actually like each other? I've jokingly said that this book is for anyone who learned about Imprinting in Twilight and thought, "I need someone to explore how messed up that is." And I am joking, because my book is very different from that -- it's a second-world fantasy, there are no vampires or werewolves, there are dragons -- but I am also completely serious. So that's why I needed to write it.
QT: How long have you been writing?
Aya Maguire:
As long as I can remember!
QT: How long have you been working on this book?
Aya Maguire:
Since I was a teenager, but really since 2012, but with serious intent about 4 years.
QT: Do you have any formal writing training?
Aya Maguire:
I think by formal you mean paid, institutional? No, I don't have that -- but I do run a critique group, so I read a lot of other people's writing. Beta reading other people's books has taught me a lot. It's easier to identify structural problems -- and thus learn about structure -- from someone else's book, rather than your own.
QT: Do you follow a writing routine or schedule?
Aya Maguire:
When I'm writing, I write 1000-3000 words a day, but I take significant time off between drafts to creatively recover and work on other projects.
QT: How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
Aya Maguire:
I call this current draft "Draft Seven" but that's a loose interpretation of a process that is extremely iterative and fluid.
QT: Did you have beta readers for your book?
Aya Maguire:
Yes, many, over multiple rounds of revision. I wouldn't be here without them!
QT: About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
Aya Maguire:
QT: What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Aya Maguire:
Take your time. Enjoy being alone with the art for as long as you need to before you query. Take breaks when you need to. Write for yourself first.
QT: Would you be willing to share your query with us?
Aya Maguire:
Of course! Please note that this is one version of my query, and one of my characters is gender-fluid; I used he/him for that character here but she/her pronouns in other queries, and saw approximately equal request rates.

Query Letter:

Dear [agent],

I'm writing to you based on your interest in Fantasy and intricate worldbuilding. I believe the romantic component of my work will also appeal to you.

TO NAME THE FIRE is an adult high-fantasy novel (98,000 words) that examines the interplay of fate and choice as well as the natures of power and desire. Told with dual timelines, it evokes the memory games of THE BONE SHARD DAUGHTER by Andrea Stewart and the visceral, magically-compelled romance of A DOWRY OF BLOOD by S.T. Gibson. Nadia El-Fassi at Orbit has expressed interest in the manuscript once I am agented.

Nell can’t remember her human past. Her memory begins with her dragon, Sadaine — a shifter and her lover — abandoning her. Nell is Sadaine’s awaited darei: their union was fated, as all dragon-darei pairs are. Nell longs for him* to return so they can live in their destined union, uncaring for the loss of her human past. But in flashes of their shared magic, she learns that Sadaine doesn’t want to be with her. He seeks instead to break their immortal bond, violating dragon law and eschewing dragon tradition.

When Nell discovers that the magic Sadaine needs can be captured, she goes after it herself — and accidentally sets it free instead, sparking a hunt for the magic to control the bonds of all dragon-darei pairs — including Nell and Sadaine. Forced to seek the magic together, Nell and Sadaine reunite and realize the only thing more dangerous than fate-magic is the unholy mix of love and anger between them.

Human rulers and dragons alike would happily kill for the power of their bond. If she hopes to recapture the magic, Nell must face the past: her own decisions, the brink of her magical amnesia, and the real reason for Sadaine’s abandonment. As the past unravels, Nell realizes: whether they do as Sadaine intended, or whether they stay together, this choice should be theirs alone.

I am a nonbinary writer interested in exploring power, gender, and relationships through a speculative lens. I studied Physics at Reed College and now develop software. I am a published songwriter as well as an assistant editor for The Kaleidocast; my debut short fiction pieces are forthcoming with Weird Little Worlds and Cosmic Horror Monthly. When I take physical form, it’s usually in New York City.

Thank you for your consideration,