Success Story Interview - Corrine Jackson

An Interview with Corrine Jackson (coryleslie on QT) upon receiving an offer of representation from agent Laura Bradford of Bradford 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?
Corrine Jackson:
Touched is a young adult novel about Remy, a teen from an abusive home, who can heal people with her touch. When the father who abandoned her takes custody of her, she must deal with living with his new family in a new town. Enter local boy Asher Blackwell who has powers of his own and the infuriating ability to test Remy’s growing abilities. The secrets these two keep from each other could kill them both.

In November 2008, I’d read a few YA books that had female MCs that always seemed to be waiting on a man to save them. The classic damsel in distress. I longed to read about a strong girl who is a survivor, one who is out there trying to save others instead of the other way around. But I wanted her to be a realistic heroine, almost a heroine in spite of herself. This girl is scarred by her family, and I wanted to explore how complicated it is to love the very people who have damaged you the most. And so, Touched was born.
QT: How long have you been writing?
Corrine Jackson:
I’ve been writing with purpose for the last couple of years, but I’ve have short stories I wrote in grade school.
QT: How long have you been working on this book?
Corrine Jackson:
The actual writing time was very short. I started in December 2008 and finished in March 2009. Then came the editing, which I worked on across several months.
QT: Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
Corrine Jackson:
That point came in December. I received eight requests for my manuscript, but nothing seemed to be happening with them. The Absolute Write forums and the friends I found there kept me writing when I wanted to give up. Plus, my family is amazing. They knew I was struggling so for Christmas they surprised me with two bound copies of my novel. They wanted to remind me how much they believed in me, and it worked.
QT: Is this your first book?
Corrine Jackson:
QT: Do you have any formal writing training?
Corrine Jackson:
I have a Master’s in English, and I’m working on an MFA in Creative Writing.
QT: Do you follow a writing routine or schedule?
Corrine Jackson:
I have a full time career aside from writing. I typically put in my 8-10 hour day and then head to my local 24-hour Starbucks to get in several hours of writing. The weekends are usually a writing extravaganza. When working on Touched, I wrote seven days a week. I just couldn’t wait to get the story out.
QT: How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
Corrine Jackson:
I can count them all if I use both fingers and toes. The edits only make the story better.
QT: Did you have beta readers for your book?
Corrine Jackson:
Absolutely. Every reader offers a different POV. Some point out grammar issues, some plot problems, and others have a gift for telling you what they love. I had one reader who read my chapters as I finished them, and that friend’s excitement and appetite for the next chapter kept me writing. Then I had readers to ground me once the writing was finished and the editing began.
QT: Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
Corrine Jackson:
The first 40-50 pages were written from the hip. Then I started outlining. I’m not that strict with my outline, though. Mostly it keeps me on track with plot points, but I like to allow room for surprises. I also had to use tables to keep track of my hero and heroine’s powers as things got more complicated.
QT: How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
Corrine Jackson:
I started querying Touched in March. My query got nowhere, until a very kind agent (who had rejected my query, by the way) gave me some advice on writing queries. I revised my query and sent it out on a Friday. By Monday I had four requests. Within a month I had four more. I will forever be in that agent’s debt.
QT: About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
Corrine Jackson:
I sent out about 50 query letters total over many months. Every rejection pushed me to make more edits. I really appreciate those agents who offer up some advice with their rejection, especially considering how busy they are.
QT: On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
Corrine Jackson:
Querytracker was very helpful in this process. I used the tools to look up writers I liked to see who their agents were, and I used the reports to find out which agents repped YA. I also spent a lot of time on agency web sites to get a feel for the agency personality. I loved that Laura Bradford’s clients had banded together to create the web site, The Bradford Bunch.
QT: Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
Corrine Jackson:
Of course, each letter was addressed to the particular agent and I acknowledged that I was following their particular submission guidelines to make it clear I’d done my research. If the agent had a blog, I tailored the letter more based on my research. Otherwise, I kept the letter very basic and spent most of the space on a summary and my background.
QT: What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Corrine Jackson:
- Research, research, research. If an agent only wants a query letter and the first page, send just that.
- Proofread your work and have someone else proofread it, too.
- Don’t be impatient. This business of getting published takes time. And then more time.
- Treat agents with respect. I’ve seen too many people bad mouth agents who rejected them or took a while to respond. After following the agents on Twitter and reading their blogs, I see what goes into their days. It’s amazing they read any queries at all.

Query Letter:

Dear Agent,

I would like you to consider Touched, my YA suspense novel. The manuscript is complete at 102,000 words.

Seventeen-year-old Remy O’Malley heals people with touch, but her power comes at a steep cost. Every illness or injury she cures becomes her own. The pain she can handle, but she worries a day will come when she won’t recover from healing some terrible disease. Then she meets eighteen-year-old Asher Blackwell. Scarred and dangerous, he knows more about her abilities than she does, and she can’t resist wanting to know everything about him.

Once a Protector of Healers, Asher sacrificed his ability to touch, taste, and smell to become immortal. Only by killing a Healer can a Protector feel a shadowy echo of their human senses, and Remy’s kind have been hunted into near extinction to feed their enemy’s hunger for sensation. After a century of living a half-life, Asher yearns for mortality. Remy is more powerful than any Healer he’s known, and the intense pain he feels each time he touches her shocks him, almost more than his inexplicable desire to be near her.

Falling in love is against the rules between these two enemies and could destroy them both. Because Remy has the power to make Protectors human again, and when they find out, they’ll be coming for her, if Asher doesn’t kill her first.

I have a Master’s in English Literature and am working on my MFA in Fiction at Spalding University. My work has been published in Dash Literary Journal. I’d be glad to send my complete manuscript for your review. Thank you for your time and consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.


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