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Success Story Interview - Lindsey Byrd

An Interview with Lindsey Byrd (LindseyByrd on QT) upon receiving an offer of representation from agent Maddy Belton of The Madeleine Milburn 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?
Lindsey Byrd:
My book is a 102,000 word fantasy novel that follows the arc of three powerful individuals representing either a Giver (someone who can raise the dead with a touch) or a Reaper (someone who can kill with a touch). I was inspired to write this story after watching the Old Guard and wondering about what it could mean to live forever, and if individuals actually had the power to choose life and death: what that would mean for a population.
QT: How long have you been writing?
Lindsey Byrd:
I've been writing since I was very young, first silly stories of childhood, then fanfiction, then progressing outwards to proper novels intended for publication.
QT: How long have you been working on this book?
Lindsey Byrd:
I started writing the book in August 2020, I finished it that winter, then spent the next year working on its sequel. Once both books were finished I polished them and went on submission.
QT: Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
Lindsey Byrd:
I was finishing my MA and moving internationally to take up my PhD studies so there were lots of breaks in the writing as I managed my academic career. I finished the books simply because I loved the story.
QT: Is this your first book?
Lindsey Byrd:
QT: Do you have any formal writing training?
Lindsey Byrd:
Not officially beyond general English Language Writing Classes that were required in undergraduate school.
QT: Do you follow a writing routine or schedule?
Lindsey Byrd:
I write when I'm not working, but there's no fixed routine or schedule.
QT: How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
Lindsey Byrd:
Perhaps two edits before going to submission, and my Agent has confirmed we will have many rounds of edits and rewrites to get this book sparkling and ready to go. It's one of the reasons I was so vague on the summary above: things will undoubtedly change.
QT: Did you have beta readers for your book?
Lindsey Byrd:
QT: Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
Lindsey Byrd:
I wrote it from the hip.
QT: How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
Lindsey Byrd:
I started Querying in March 2023
QT: About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
Lindsey Byrd:
QT: On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
Lindsey Byrd:
I specified by genre to start with, then I sorted QT by alphabet and just went through one agency at a time. I opened the agent's profile and read there MSWLs and looked to see if I felt we would watch conceptually, then I applied.
QT: Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
Lindsey Byrd:
Yes, I looked into their interests and requirements and I tailored my first paragraph to address the agent's interests specifically.
QT: What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Lindsey Byrd:
Submit in batches, be aware of statistics if you can get a hold of them, ask for advice, go through various revisions and editions and make sure someone else besides you and a close friend reads it. Go online and get a writing critique if you can manage it.
QT: Would you be willing to share your query with us?
Lindsey Byrd:
Because things like character names/title etc will change I've edited the below to match the story as best I can at this moment:

Query Letter:

I am currently seeking representation for my fantasy novel [TITLE]. Given your interest in the fantasy genre and epic world building, I thought this would be a good fit for your list.

Prince [Name 1] and his sister, [Name 2], are Givers. With a touch, they can bring a dead body back to life. The boy without a name is a Reaper. He only has to touch a living body to end that life. Neither Givers nor Reapers can die by normal means, but that doesn't mean they cannot feel pain. The boy without a name is sent to kill [Name 1], but nothing can kill a Giver. He's captured and imprisoned in a gilded cage meant to keep him safe and confined as a war between their nations wages on. [Name 2] is meant to be his guard and guide as {Name 1] fights at the front lines of the war. But there is a deadly plot brewing within [Name 1] and [Name 2's] kingdom. And the boy without a name must decide if his loyalty is to the homeland that turned him into a monster, or to [Name 1] and [Name 2] who have only ever called him 'friend.'

[TITLE] is complete at 102,000 words and is the first in a completed duology. It melds the political intrigue and familial manipulations of "Captive Prince” by C.S. Pacat, with the character discovery of magic and how it works mixed with strong characterization and development of "Shades of Magic" series by V. E. Schwab, and the character driven internal focus of "Song of Achilles" by Madeline Miller. Told in alternating points of view, CAT AND CROWN follows [Name 2’s] coming of age story as she tries to understand what it means to have power over life when all around her is warfare and death, and [Name 1’s] place in the war. The center piece for both siblings is the Reaper that [Name 1] has brought into their lives, and their understanding of what kind of threat he brought straight into the heart of their Kingdom.

I'm a queer PhD student at the [Location] studying History of Medicine. Inspired by my work, I enjoy exploring the concepts of life and death and how illness and health are often two sides of the same coin. I write under the pen name Lindsey Byrd to keep my academic career separate from my fiction writing pursuits. My first novel, "On the Subject of Griffons," was published through Riptide Publishing and I look forward to becoming a more established fiction author in the future. I truly believe that we could be a good fit for each other, and I hope that you agree. Thanks for your time and consideration!