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Success Story Interview - Kate Karyus Quinn

An Interview with Kate Karyus Quinn (katekquinn on QT) upon receiving an offer of representation from agent Alexandra Machinist of Creative Artists Agency.


QT: Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you've found representation? What inspired you to write it?
Kate Karyus Quinn:
The original idea for ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE, which is YA Paranormal, was to make it with a spin-off character from an urban fantasy I had written. Some agent feedback led to me going through some massive revisions for the urban fantasy that basically made the spin-off character cease to exist. This turned out to be a really great thing because I was then able to just tell the story without feeling like I had to tie it into any previous works.
QT: How long have you been writing?
Kate Karyus Quinn:
I wrote my first book in third grade. It was about six pages long and illustrated. I think it was called "The Dark and Spooky House". I didn't really get serious about writing though until 2007. I was doing the stay-at-home mom thing at the time and my five-month-old son was on a super reliable two naps a day schedule, which gave me a good chunk of time to really commit to writing.
QT: How long have you been working on this book?
Kate Karyus Quinn:
I started this book during the summer of 2010, but didn't really find a writing rhythm that stuck until the fall. I finished the first draft in March of 2011, and then spent a couple months rewriting. My first query letters went out in mid-June.
QT: Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
Kate Karyus Quinn:
I was very discouraged while querying my first novel. Many tears were shed, and if I was going to quit that would've been the time. Instead, I found an online crit group, met other writers through blogging, and decided to start working on book number two.
QT: Is this your first book?
Kate Karyus Quinn:
It's my third book. My first was a romance novel. My second was an urban fantasy.
QT: Do you have any formal writing training?
Kate Karyus Quinn:
I took a creative writing course in high school, and another while earning my undergraduate degree. I also earned an MFA in film and television production from Chapman University, and while there took several courses in screenwriting. Those courses really helped me a lot with plotting out my novels.
QT: Do you follow a writing routine or schedule?
Kate Karyus Quinn:
Not really. Usually I try to write while my kids are napping during the day (not so easy now that they are older and napping less) or at night after they've gone to bed.
QT: How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
Kate Karyus Quinn:
Around two or three times.
QT: Did you have beta readers for your book?
Kate Karyus Quinn:
Yes. My husband is one of my best beta readers, and he never pulls his punches. I also found a really wonderful crit partner through the absolutewrite forums, and she read while I was writing my first draft. Having that instant feedback while I was still writing, really helped.
QT: Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
Kate Karyus Quinn:
A little bit of both. I really try to be constantly thinking several steps ahead to what is going to happen next, but I've never been able to start with a full outline - too many surprises happen during the writing process and I like to be able to see where they will take me.
QT: How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
Kate Karyus Quinn:
My first book I queried for about six months. My second book I queried for about a year - mostly because during that time I received two revise and resubmits from an agent. For ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE my first batch of queries went out on 6/17 and I received my first offer of representation on 7/13.
QT: About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
Kate Karyus Quinn:
I sent out 52 queries.
QT: On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
Kate Karyus Quinn:
I looked for agents who represented both young adult and romance since those are the two genres that I am most interested in writing.
QT: Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
Kate Karyus Quinn:
No, I didn't at all except for making sure that their name was spelled correctly in the salutation. I always feel fake and awkward when I try to force the personalization.
QT: What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Kate Karyus Quinn:
Everybody says it, and it's true - DON'T GIVE UP. I would also add - don't get stuck on one book. I know there is nothing harder than putting away an MS that you've worked so hard on and had so many hopes for. And it doesn't mean that your book sucked or that you're a terrible writer. That book just might not be the right one for right now. As much as I loved my other manuscripts, I am so glad that ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE is the one that snagged me an agent - the wonderful and amazing Alexandra Machinist of Janklow & Nesbit who just sold my book to HarperTeen in a two-book deal at auction.

Query Letter:

Dear Agent:

They call her Annaliese Rose Gordon, but that's not her name. They say she was missing for over a year, but she's still not home. They say she's lucky to be alive, but Annaliese is dead.

A year ago she stumbled out of the woods and into a high school party, screaming and drenched in blood. The next instant - she was gone. That was the last anyone saw of Annaliese... until she's found wandering the countryside, unsure of who she is or how she got there.

Returned to her "home," she is faced with over-protective parents and an overwhelming sense that she isn't Annaliese. This feeling increases until a fractured memory of a disturbing ritual surfaces - and then she is certain. She is someone else - another girl - now living in Annaliese's body.

Now she must somehow deal with the leftovers of Annaliese's life – the best friend she'd left behind, the boy she'd crushed on, and the parents who never gave up hoping for her return. This brings her closer to the girl she took, but also oddly envious of the life that is now her own. And when an unexpected relationship begins between her and the mysterious boy who was one of the last people to see Annaliese alive, she finds herself wanting to hold onto Annaliese's life and truly make it her own. Yet what she once was holds her back, as she remembers more and more of other lives and other girls she'd once been.

Eventually, she can no longer deny that Annaliese was only the last in a long string of girls she's taken, and the hunger is urging her towards the next victim. Now with a birthday deadline quickly approaching - she must make a choice. Is she strong enough to stay – even if it kills her?

Complete at 85,000 words, ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE, is a paranormal mystery for young adults.

I have two college degrees, one a BFA in theatre and the other an MFA in film and television production. In addition, my short romantic fiction pieces have been published in Woman's World magazine.

Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you.