Success Story Interview - Kari Stewart

An Interview with Kari Stewart (Tasmin21 on QT) upon receiving an offer of representation from agent Chris Lotts of The Lotts Agency.


QT: How long have you been writing?
Kari Stewart:
I think I've been writing all my life. My earliest stories were adventures for me and my gradeschool friends based off my favorite comic book.
QT: How long have you been working on this book?
Kari Stewart:
From first idea to first query, it took me nine months to finish this book.
QT: Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
Kari Stewart:
There are days when I still feel like giving up. But honestly, I couldn't stop writing even if they cut my hands off, and my family and friends have always been amazingly supportive. They keep me going.
QT: Is this your first book?
Kari Stewart:
Counting the truly horrible things I wrote as a pre-teen/teenager, this is my sixth completed novel. It is the first one I've ever tried to submit, however.
QT: Do you have any formal writing training?
Kari Stewart:
I have a BA in English with an emphasis in literature. I got that degree mostly to help me learn how to really READ a book, with the idea that it would help me learn to be a better writer in the process.
QT: Do you follow a writing routine or schedule?
Kari Stewart:
I do most of my writing on my lunch break at work, so yes, I have a set schedule, but not like most people think of it.
QT: How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
Kari Stewart:
I think the version I submitted was about the 8th re-write.
QT: Did you have beta readers for your book?
Kari Stewart:
Oh yes, many. And I owe them a lot.
QT: Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
Kari Stewart:
This is the first book I ever outlined, and I have decided that I am definitely an outliner. It made things SO much easier.
QT: How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
Kari Stewart:
This is the first book I queried, and it took me six months to land my agent.
QT: On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
Kari Stewart:
I first focused on agents in my genre that accepted e-mail queries (for purely financial reasons, mailing all those pages is expensive). Then I picked those that had a web-presence, simply because I felt like I had a good grasp their personalities and whether or not we would work well together.
QT: Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
Kari Stewart:
If it was an agent I knew a lot about (ie: they had a blog), I would try. But for the majority of my queries, no I didn't.
QT: What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Kari Stewart:
Don't quit. It's not a fast process, and impatience will get you nowhere.
QT: Would you be willing to share your query with us?
Kari Stewart:
Here is the query letter that worked for me. I couldn't have done it without all the help from AWers.

Query Letter:

The ringing of the phone never brings good news. It’s always a bill collector, a telemarketer, or Great Aunt Edna coming to visit. For Jesse Dawson – father, husband, and samurai demon-slayer – the dreaded phone brings news that a friend, a fellow champion of lost souls, is missing. Sure, champions do get killed from time to time, but no one has ever just dropped off the face of the earth before. Then word comes of a second missing champion, and a strange blue car may or may not be following Jesse around town. It’s enough to make a guy downright paranoid.

Meanwhile, Jesse is contacted by an aging baseball player desperate to have his soul retrieved from the demon he sold it to. The challenge itself looks like it will be a pretty standard tank-and-spank, but the baseball player’s agent is not what you’d call a believer in the supernatural, and he’s doing his level best to get Jesse arrested for fraud and anything else he can invent.

Certain there’s a target painted on his back and jail time looming on the horizon, Jesse needs answers and fast. Axel, the one demon Jesse thought he could trust, has the skinny on the missing champions, but he isn’t talking without a little quid pro quo. And while the first rule in dealing with the devil is don’t, if Jesse wants what the demon knows, he’ll have to give up a soul.

I am seeking representation for Third Strike, a 71,000-word urban fantasy novel. I have included five pages below, and the full manuscript is available upon request. I look forward to hearing from you.