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Success Story Interview - Iga V Pietrzak

An Interview with Iga V Pietrzak (igav2017 on QT) upon receiving an offer of representation from agent Hannah Sheppard of Hannah Sheppard 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?
Iga V Pietrzak:
My novel follows the lives of high school kids through their ups and downs, meanwhile their mysterious hometown is haunted by legends of a curse. It gives the reader a front-row seat to the teenage world of stereotypes, identity crisis, cliques and crushes, while touching on more global adult-world issues like governmental corruption, social-economic divides and discrimination.
QT: Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
Iga V Pietrzak:
I never felt like giving up. That might be because I wasn't looking towards an end goal, rather writing as it has always been my favorite pass-time. I was only fazed by the notion that after summer was over I would be in year 11 and take my IGCSE exams, meaning I wouldn't have time to write. This further motivated me to keep going and finish that novel before the end of the summer.
QT: Is this your first book?
Iga V Pietrzak:
As matter of fact, this happens to be my tenth book if I remember correctly. I always loved writing stories and books. My first was a three hundred page book I wrote at the age of 10 but of course it was nowhere near good enough to try and publish. This debut novel is my first attempt at publishing something.
QT: Do you have any formal writing training?
Iga V Pietrzak:
No - all I have is a remarkable English Language teacher at school who taught me to analyse prose techniques. I draw particular inspiration from Scott Fitzgerald's enviable way with words and writing style.
QT: Do you follow a writing routine or schedule?
Iga V Pietrzak:
Not really. In my specific case, school covers most of the routine part, whereas an hour of writing is somewhat an end-of-the-day treat. During the holidays I absolutely dive into it and can spend an entire day writing - this novel was written in two months last summer which gives you an idea of how intense that writing schedule was!
QT: How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
Iga V Pietrzak:
So far there were two grand revisions but to be fair I changed things all the time as each time I read through, there was always something that didn't seem quite right. Overall, I wrote a rough copy the first time around to get the story-line straight, then went back to work on the language and atmosphere.
QT: Did you have beta readers for your book?
Iga V Pietrzak:
I had a couple classmates and friends from outside of school read it.
QT: Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
Iga V Pietrzak:
There was a clear outline. In my story this was crucial as there were lots of characters with parallel plots which had to be carefully intertwined in a non-confusing way. Starting the novel, I already knew how it would end and had visions of scenes I wanted to place in it but of course I adapted a lot along the way.
QT: How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
Iga V Pietrzak:
It's been about half a year. I was quite surprised to receive two offers after such a short time, as from what I have heard, I was prepared that looking for an agent would take much longer.
QT: About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
Iga V Pietrzak:
About 50 I sent back in September/October and about 50 at the beginning of 2018 from which most of the agents haven't replied yet.
QT: On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
Iga V Pietrzak:
I had to make sure they were relevant for the genre of my story, so the main criteria was naturally whether they were interested in representing young adult novels.
QT: What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Iga V Pietrzak:
I would advise other writers to be persistent. Nonetheless, scavenging for agents is a time consuming process and at times even a frustrating one - several agents would ask me to make changes - sometimes radical changes - and after they read my updated manuscript, still decided against it. However it's important to stay motivated and open-minded, listening to the agents' pointers because following their advice can really help to develop your book into the best it can be.