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Success Story Interview - Kaelyn Christian

An Interview with Kaelyn Christian (kchristian on QT) upon receiving an offer of representation from agent Jacqueline Lipton of The Tobias 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?
Kaelyn Christian:
I wrote a contemporary YA retelling of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. It's my favorites Shakespeare play, and one that doesn't get retold often despite fitting really well with things that are going on right now. I honestly just wrote the book I wanted to read.
QT: How long have you been writing?
Kaelyn Christian:
My whole life, really. Seriously, in a trying-to-get-an-agent kind of way, I'd say about ten years.
QT: How long have you been working on this book?
Kaelyn Christian:
I started writing it about two years ago, set it aside for a while, and then took about a year to really write it.
QT: Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
Kaelyn Christian:
Oh yes. It's so hard sometimes to deal with all the rejection that querying brings. While I was working on this book I had a serious crisis about whether or not I was even capable of writing good YA. A writer friend talked me down, but I was ready to give up on this manuscript. I don't think I could ever give up writing completely though.
QT: Is this your first book?
Kaelyn Christian:
No. I've written three other manuscripts, and queried two of them.
QT: Do you have any formal writing training?
Kaelyn Christian:
I have a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism, but I don't feel like that really counts as formal writing training.
QT: Do you follow a writing routine or schedule?
Kaelyn Christian:
No, I write in fits and starts. I've been trying to change that and settle into a routine, but life has been crazy and I haven't found one I can consistently stick to yet.
QT: How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
Kaelyn Christian:
Two big edits, one that occurred before I'd finished the first draft, and several smaller edits.
QT: Did you have beta readers for your book?
Kaelyn Christian:
Yes! One who is also a writer and one who is an avid reader and librarian.
QT: Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
Kaelyn Christian:
Since this was a retelling, I outlined it pretty thoroughly. Usually I have a loose outline to guide me and then toss it out when my muse takes me somewhere else.
QT: How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
Kaelyn Christian:
I queried this book in two phases, with a major rewrite in the middle, but all said it was about eight months.
QT: About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
Kaelyn Christian:
Somewhere around 100.
QT: On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
Kaelyn Christian:
I did a lot of searching through MSWL, and then after that basically anyone who repped contemporary YA was going on my list. I love MSWL but I also feel like sometimes agents don't know they're looking for something until they read it. I did make sure that my manuscript wasn't on the "No" list for any agent I queried though.
QT: Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
Kaelyn Christian:
Only by addressing it to that specific agent. I didn't get any more personal than that.
QT: What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Kaelyn Christian:
Keep. Going. It's so easy to give up, but it truly only takes one yes.

Query Letter:

I am seeking representation for my novel EXPOSED, a contemporary young adult retelling of Much Ado About Nothing.

Seventeen-year-old Beatrice has always hated Ben. He's charming, gorgeous, and utterly infuriating and Bea means to avoid him as much as possible. Then her cousin Harper falls hard for Ben's best friend Cade, and suddenly Ben is just always there, being charming, gorgeous, and utterly irresistible.

When Bea and Ben start hooking up, no strings attached, Bea insists they keep it a secret. She doesn't need hopeless romantic Harper trying to set them up. It's not like they actually have feelings for each other.

The arrangement works for them, until explicit photos of Harper are leaked online. Suddenly everything is falling apart; Harper is devastated, Cade is cowed by his politician father, and Bea finds herself leaning on Ben, whose support is the only thing bringing her any peace.

Her cousin deserves justice, but the police are useless. Bea is determined to find out who posted the photos herself and begins her own investigation, with Ben's help. The closer Bea gets to the truth, the more she thinks that the happily ever after Harper's been so desperate for just isn't possible. Bea never believed in happily ever after anyway, but if she allows herself to, she might just get a taste of it for herself.