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Success Story Interview - Elizabeth May

An Interview with Elizabeth May (elizabethmay(d) on QT) upon receiving an offer of representation from agent Russell Galen of Scovil Galen Ghosh Literary Agency, Inc..


QT: Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you've found representation? What inspired you to write it?
Elizabeth May:
THE FALCONER takes place in 1844 Edinburgh and is about a young noblewoman who secretly hunts and kills faeries.

The idea came to me when I was originally framing my university dissertation on Scottish folktales. Though I ultimately chose another topic, part of my reading included stories about faeries. Scottish lore paints them in a way that's horrifying and sinister, where even "good" faeries shouldn't be wholly trusted.

A lot of the texts I used were from the 19th century. At the time, I was working on another manuscript, but I thought: wouldn't it be interesting to write about a girl in this era who hunts faeries? And wouldn't it be more complicated if she were the daughter of a titled gentleman, and therefore more restricted by her social status?
QT: How long have you been writing?
Elizabeth May:
I've written short stories since I could put words to paper. I penned my first full-length novel when I was twelve. It was really awful (and I knew that at the time), but I enjoyed the process so much that I pushed it aside and wrote another and another . . .
QT: How long have you been working on this book?
Elizabeth May:
A year.
QT: Is this your first book?
Elizabeth May:
No, definitely not. THE FALCONER is the 10th manuscript I've written and the 2nd manuscript I've queried.
QT: Do you have any formal writing training?
Elizabeth May:
I took some classes at university. The expository writing classes were truly the most helpful for me. When I learned how to construct and focus an argument, I applied the same rules to plot and world-building. Fiction requires some internal logic to drive the story, so I used an expository writing outline when I came up with the story arc.
QT: How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
Elizabeth May:
After the initial rough draft, I rewrote the entire novel from scratch (maybe 5% of the original text made it to the rewritten draft). Then, I rewrote the entire manuscript again (this time about 50% made it in). After the last rewrite was complete, I went through about 5 or 6 rounds of editing. The first chapter, though, was rewritten in full about 6 times.
QT: Did you have beta readers for your book?
Elizabeth May:
Yes, several. They are an amazing help! At least two of them helped me work through several drafts of that first chapter.
QT: How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
Elizabeth May:
I queried this book for exactly 13 days before I got the first offer.
QT: About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
Elizabeth May:
I sent out 15 queries — and heard back from all agents but 3. From those, I had 8 full requests and multiple offers. So the week before I made my decision was very hectic indeed.