Success Story Interview - Elora Cook

An Interview with Elora Cook (eloracook on QT) upon receiving an offer of representation from agent Sabrina Taitz of William Morris Endeavor.


QT: Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you've found representation? What inspired you to write it?
Elora Cook:
My novel that caught my agent's attention is a YA thriller about two rivalling mafia families in New York. It's in the vein of GOSSIP GIRL meets THE SOPRANOS. I've had an interest in writing a story about the glamorous lives of the ultra wealthy with a criminal twist and finally got the idea for the story one evening.
QT: How long have you been writing?
Elora Cook:
I've always been a storyteller since I was a kid with short stories and at thirteen decided I wanted to try writing a novel. I never finished my first attempt, but came back to it once I graduated high school. So about four years for novel writing.
QT: How long have you been working on this book?
Elora Cook:
Before signing, I worked on this book from ideation to query-ready for a year.
QT: Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
Elora Cook:
Many times. Part of my process apparently is to have extended periods of confidence then short downward spirals of hopelessness. While I was writing and revising this book, I was querying my second one and dealing with rejections on my queries and full requests. Not a fun time, but my mafia book helped me gain excitement for writing again!
QT: Is this your first book?
Elora Cook:
It's my third completed novel!
QT: Do you have any formal writing training?
Elora Cook:
QT: Do you follow a writing routine or schedule?
Elora Cook:
I try to have a routine, but as of now I write when I can and have the motivation for it. When I'm in the middle of drafting though, I try to aim for a thousand words each session, though preferably every day with days off until I finish. I'm a slow writer, but it gets done in the end!
QT: How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
Elora Cook:
I was lucky that I didn't need to rewrite this one as I more or less got the plot down the first time. I edited it prior to querying about three times.
QT: Did you have beta readers for your book?
Elora Cook:
Yes! I'm very selective as I don't want too many cooks in the kitchen and asked three trusted betas plus my critique partners.
QT: Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
Elora Cook:
Yes! I'm a total plotter and can't/don't feel confident enough to start writing until I have a detailed outline. I give myself permission to go different routes or add in other stuff once I start drafting that may not fit my pre-made outline, but it takes some time to actually start drafting because I'm outlining so much. I need to get to a point where I'm just dying to draft before I can truly do it.
QT: How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
Elora Cook:
I was SUPER lucky for this querying round and had only queried for two weeks prior to querying my agent who offered three days later. It was also my third time querying. The previous two times I queried for two months and nine months separately before shelving and moving on. For my second book, I decided to pull my remaining fulls as I could see something wasn't working and I decided I wanted to put all my effort and energy into my third (mafia) book.
QT: About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
Elora Cook:
QT: What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Elora Cook:
Do your research and be specific/picky with who you're sending to! When you're in the query trenches it feels like you'll take whoever so long as you get an offer, but trust me that's not the way to start a business relationship. Your list may be shorter because of it, but that's totally fine. I also recommend you try and personalize each one and only do a non-personalization as a last resort. And know when to shelve. Your gut will let you know when it's time (mine always did) and trust that your next story will make you a stronger writer no matter what.

Query Letter:

Wearing the latest Prada with a gun strapped to her waist, seventeen-year-old Tasha Nicastro has her eyes set on inheriting her father's title as New York's most powerful mafia boss. And when rumors of a takeover by a new gang called the Salvators puts her family in danger, Tasha's willing to pull the trigger to keep them safe.

Eighteen-year-old Leo Danesi doesn't care about anything that isn't related to burning through his family's wealth in glitzy clubs and cruising the city in his Ferrari. The only person who ever gets under his skin is Tasha, his rival, and the one person with more influence and connections in the mafia than him. When Leo's little sister is threatened by the Salvators, however, he buries his pride and asks Tasha to help him hunt down the mysterious group.

Tasha and Leo have always despised each other, but this new threat is bigger than their long-standing hatred, and they need to work together to stop the shared threat. But, as their investigation begins, Tasha witnesses her family murdered, and all the evidence points to the Salvators.

Fueled by Tasha's thirst for revenge and Leo's fear for his own family, they set out to find why the Salvators murdered Tasha's family—and what they're planning next. As the bitter rivals hunt through the glittering streets and dark alleys of New York—fighting the taboo attraction that keeps growing between them—it becomes clear the extent of the mystery gang's power runs deeper than Tasha or Leo anticipate. Anyone might be the enemy, and if the two don't stop the Salvators before they take control, they'll soon become prisoners to a world they once ruled.

IN THE COMPANY OF KILLERS is a YA thriller complete at 88,000 words. Told from dual perspectives, it will appeal to fans of the glamour and elite in the television show GOSSIP GIRL with the twists of Karen McManus's ONE OF US IS LYING and the brutal mafia world of THE GODFATHER.