Success Story Interview - Chloe Maron

An Interview with Chloe Maron (cmaron on QT) upon receiving an offer of representation from agent Sheyla Knigge of High Line Literary Collective.


QT: Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you've found representation? What inspired you to write it?
Chloe Maron:
Sure! LOOK AT ME LIKE I’M A MONSTER is about a trans boy at a monster hunter boarding school. As a former child prodigy, he’s desperate to prove himself in the big final project before graduation, but things go awry when he accidentally summons an archangel.

I wrote this one from my love (and frustration) with the TV show Supernatural. I also feel like this was the book where I gave myself permission to really go in on the things I love to read, which include unhinged humor, an overflow of emotions, and monsters that are as horrifying as I can think of.
QT: How long have you been writing?
Chloe Maron:
This is a tricky question. I’ve been writing with the goal to finish books since 2021, but I’ve been writing here and there since I was 10 or 12. I’ve always loved to read, and because of that it feels like I’ve always had stories I wanted to write about. It just took me a little bit to get there!
QT: How long have you been working on this book?
Chloe Maron:
This is another tricky question, because I, of course, have to make things complicated. I think the short answer might be since mid-2021? Though, I have not been consistently working on it that long. I went through a good number of drafts and revisions until mid-2022 when I started querying. Then, I suffered through the trenches with it until now, but I don’t particularly think of that as “working on it” since I didn’t do any major revisions.
QT: Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
Chloe Maron:
The only word I don’t relate to in this question is “felt.” I did give up on this book for a long time, and was on the very last leg of phasing it out completely. Since I had not handled querying this book healthily (I had convinced myself it was terrible), I turned my focus to other books. It helped me not totally give up on trying to find an agent, though that motivation was shaky some days too. Honestly, what helped me not give up altogether was therapy, complaining a lot to my friends, and crying.
QT: Is this your first book?
Chloe Maron:
Nope! I have a ton of unfinished ideas from when I was younger, as well as one absolutely terrible finished book. I would like to return to that one finished one someday, but only to take the barest premise and throw the rest out.
QT: Do you have any formal writing training?
Chloe Maron:
When I wrote this book, I did not except for a couple of college creative writing classes. It feels weird to say that I do now, because I don’t feel like I’m pillar of knowledge or that I know more than anybody else. But I do have a B.A. in Creative Writing and English, and I am currently enrolled in an MFA. Though, I do want to say that formal writing training is absolutely not necessary to become agented or get published! So many writers do not have this and they are extremely talented. I just made choices on what I believed would be best for me personally!
QT: Do you follow a writing routine or schedule?
Chloe Maron:
Not particularly! At my very best, I can do a chapter a day (around 1.5k-2k words), but I have been a bit slower recently because I’m becoming pickier with basically everything.
QT: How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
Chloe Maron:
I want to say around five, but there’s a good chance it was more than that.
QT: Did you have beta readers for your book?
Chloe Maron:
I did! They were invaluable, even just to bounce ideas off of and get advice on how to fix plot holes!
QT: Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
Chloe Maron:
I completely pantsed this book, but my process changed a lot even throughout writing it. Ultimately, I like knowing where I want to begin, where I want to end, and the general idea of what story I would like to tell. Sometimes there are a few scenes here and there I know will be necessary or I’d like to include. Though, connecting all these aspects is where I struggle to plan out. I learn best by doing, and I find that I figure things out when I am directly in the scene.
QT: How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
Chloe Maron:
Around two years. Plus, I had mentally declared it dead so thoroughly I was 100% convinced I was getting on an R&R call.
QT: About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
Chloe Maron:
Over 153. That is the number of queries I sent that could be tracked by QueryTracker, but I know I sent a good number for agents that aren’t on QueryTracker and for small presses.
QT: On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
Chloe Maron:
I sent queries to those whose MSWL matched my book. I also poked around agents’ websites or social media as a way to get a general idea of who they were and how they operated. If I didn’t see any glaring red flags, I would send the query! I know this is a bit of a relaxed process, but I did so since I promised myself that if anything were to happen, I would dig deeper into research or even decline an offer if I didn’t feel like it was right.
QT: Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
Chloe Maron:
I did, at the beginning. I would try to mention how my book fit their MSWL and if our tastes were similar. Though, I quickly found that querying by itself was very time consuming and emotionally draining, so it was better to just send the queries off. I didn’t see much of a difference between personalized and regular queries either, so I don’t think this should be a worry!
QT: What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Chloe Maron:
This is such a weird question to answer because I don’t feel qualified to give this kind of advice. I feel like I’m just here, trying to do my best, and doing what works for me (so if you also feel a little clueless, know that you are not alone).

In all seriousness, I think one piece of advice I would give is to let yourself feel whatever you feel without guilt. Now, this does not give you permission to be an asshole to people either in public or in private. But, if you feel jealous or angry or frustrated, know that it is normal and you are allowed to feel that way. Let yourself feel that way. Publishing is extremely hard, and it brings about so much angst. You do not have to force yourself to feel any way but the way you do about it. How you process it is a different story, and if its within your means, I will always highly recommend therapy.
QT: Would you be willing to share your query with us?
Chloe Maron:
Of course!

Query Letter:

Dear Sheyla Knigge,

I'm thrilled to present you LOOK AT ME LIKE I'M A MONSTER, a 94,000 word queer YA contemporary fantasy. Featuring a trans main character filled to the brim with snark, and the deconstruction of what it means to love something that's hurt you, it will appeal to readers of H.E. Edgmon's THE WITCH KING and Adrienne Tooley's SOFI AND THE BONE SONG. It is also perfect for fans of Supernatural who wished the hunter and the angel would just kiss already. [Editor interest]

Rowan Wrey is a failure.

Trans, tired, and over it, he's a former child prodigy in the art of monster hunting. At one time, his success bringing down the supernatural was lauded. Now, at only eighteen, he's washed up with nothing but pain from an old injury and declining mental health. As a senior at a boarding school for teen monster hunters, he's barely able to pass his classes, his parents hardly talk to him, and he doubts whether his love for hunting still exists.

When the final graduation project gives Rowan the chance to shed the shame of no longer being the best, and to prove to himself that this is the life he really wants (and terrified of confronting what it means if it isn't), he vows, for the first time in years, to try. If that means competing in a semester-long hunting competition? He won't just compete – he'll win.

But Rowan's newfound motivation is quickly tested when he picks up a frustratingly handsome archangel and a feral lesbian vampire he can't bring himself to kill. Feeling as if the only world he has ever known is something he no longer understands, Rowan finds himself grappling with the truth of what monsters really are – and just how hungry that truth can get.

When not writing, I can be found petting any animal that will let me, contemplating how many plushies is too many, or furthering the gay agenda.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Chloe Maron (she/they)