Introducing a new writing tool from the maker of QueryTracker.
Learn More...
Introducing a new writing tool from the maker of QueryTracker. Learn More...

Success Story Interview - Matthew Adams

An Interview with Matthew Adams (whiporee on QT) upon receiving an offer of representation from agent Allison Hunter of Trellis Literary Management.


QT: Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you've found representation? What inspired you to write it?
Matthew Adams:
The short answer is that it’s a book about an asteroid headed toward Earth. The long answer is that the novel is about living in the shadow of disaster without really knowing whether the disaster is coming and how you try to fix those things that are inherently unfixable. It takes place over 20 years, and follows two protagonists – Martin and Monica – as they separately and jointly try to come to terms with knowledge they have. There’s a lot of science, and a lot of politics, and long-term love story.

I wrote it because I was curious as to what would happen if presented with that scenario –how would you live your life. I wanted to find out. I’m always reminded of a Garrison Keilor story from Lake Woebegone, where he explains why he’s an author (I think he uses the term liar, but the point is the same). He said that he thinks if he can create the world and get all the details just right, he’ll get to go there. That’s what I did with this book and anything I’ve written – I wanted to see what that world/life would be like, so I tried to create it.
QT: How long have you been writing?
Matthew Adams:
I’ve been writing since I was in second grade, along with doing a lot of other things. I was a reporter for a while, and that sets the stage for at least one of the characters.
QT: How long have you been working on this book?
Matthew Adams:
It took me about a year to write the first draft, and then edited and cut cut cut for the next four months.

Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course? I’ve given up on a lot of books. This book is written in three parts, and once I finished the first part, I knew I’d finish the whole thing.
QT: Is this your first book?
Matthew Adams:
This is my second novel. The first was written 15 years ago, and it’s really, really bad
QT: Do you have any formal writing training?
Matthew Adams:
Not really. I took classes in college and, like I said, I was a reporter for a while.
QT: Do you follow a writing routine or schedule?
Matthew Adams:
The only schedule I have is when I’m just starting, I write 500 a day, mostly late at night when my kids have gone to sleep. Once the story gets going, I find whatever time I can in order to get it out.
QT: How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
Matthew Adams:
One major rewrite, and then a lot of cutting.
QT: Did you have beta readers for your book?
Matthew Adams:
I hired them on Elance. Usually for about 75 bucks, though I found the more I paid, the better they were in terms of their feedback.
QT: Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
Matthew Adams:
The basics of the plot I knew, but my book changed course when I was about 30 percent done – it turned into something different than I had intended it to be. Better, but different. Mostly I try to make sure I know the plot points, to make sure I’ve got a workable story. They often change, but I need to make sure there’s a story to tell.
QT: How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
Matthew Adams:
I was really lucky. I queried for about four months.
QT: About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
Matthew Adams:
QT: On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
Matthew Adams:
That they accepted my genre, new writers and email submissions. If they met those criteria, they got a letter. I made it about a third of the way though my list.
QT: Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
Matthew Adams:
I wrote two different queries – one I received help from an agent at a class at a writer’s conference I attended. She actually is the one who ended up representing me. The other query I wrote after spending at lot of time at Query Shark. It got me an offer, too, but I decided to go with the agent I had already met.
QT: What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Matthew Adams:
Be realistic about your story. Make sure it’s a story you’d like to read, not just write. And then go to conferences where you have a chance to actually meet agents in person. It’ll cost some money for one of those sessions, but getting actual feedback from one – someone who is being paid to be there and therefore feels an obligation to actually help – can make a lot of difference.

Query Letter:

Dear Agent,

It has to be a joke, right? Or at least a mistake. That’s what student editor Martin Jeffries thinks as he reads the last paragraph of his first-time stringer’s story, the one that predicts a devastating asteroid strike in 20 years.

But then his reporter disappears. The astronomer she interviewed is killed in a car crash, his notes missing. Monica Gables, his unexpected new girlfriend, knows a lot about astronomy. And before he knows it, the next two decades of Martin’s life are defined by a story he’s read but can never prove.

With a focus on realism that rivals Carl Sagan’s CONTACT, THE ATTRACTION OF DISTANT OBJECTS explores the logistic and political realities that such a discovery would require and addresses the inevitable questions that would follow: what kind of life do you carve when you’ve got a long wait for unproveable disaster, how do you manage relationships when the most important part of your life must remain secret? And, most importantly, what do you do about a mountain headed towards you at 30,000 miles an hour?

Complete at 146,000 words, THE ATTRACTION OF DISTANT OBJECTS follows Martin and Monica as they independently and jointly try to answer those questions. In 1994, Martin works to unravel the mystery of the missing reporter; ten years later Monica manages the top-secret government program to deflect the asteroid. Finally, as the rock gets close to impact 20 years after its discovery, both Monica and Martin see the plans they’ve independently made come to fruition. Or not.

I’ve attached (whatever the website asks for) of THE ATTRACTION OF DISTANT OBJECTS below.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Matt Adams