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Success Story Interview - Miranda Leiggi

An Interview with Miranda Leiggi (leiggim on QT) upon receiving an offer of representation from agent Paula Weiman of ASH Literary.


QT: Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you've found representation? What inspired you to write it?
Miranda Leiggi:
My book is a YA fantasy with elements of horror. It's a second world fantasy inspired by an Italian Renaissance setting, with a healthy dose of magic! I really wanted to write a novel that made people want to draw fan art and connect, because those were always my favorite kind of books as a kid.
QT: How long have you been writing?
Miranda Leiggi:
I remember writing my first short story in school in 6th grade about people who were also dragons. Even before that I always used to make up stories with my toys and the dogs. The idea of doing this seriously and maybe trying to publish really hit me about 7 years ago.
QT: How long have you been working on this book?
Miranda Leiggi:
This book started as a series of short stories I wrote during grad school. Though I didn't use any of them in the final manuscript, they really helped me start figuring out characters and world building. The actual book took about two months to write (the majority during NaNo), and then I revised on and off for a year.
QT: Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
Miranda Leiggi:
With writing, absolutely not. I love telling stories. I did think about shelving this book about a year and a half ago, so I paused querying and worked on something else. When I came back to it and read it again, I was still in love with it and wasn't ready to give up on it just yet.
QT: Is this your first book?
Miranda Leiggi:
Though I wrote a lot of popcorn books with friends growing up, this is the 2nd book I've written since I started to think I could actually do this.
QT: Do you have any formal writing training?
Miranda Leiggi:
I have an MFA in creative writing. My undergrad is in theater, which included a lot of playwriting and script analysis. It all adds up to storytelling!
QT: Do you follow a writing routine or schedule?
Miranda Leiggi:
When in drafting mode I try to write every day, even if it's just a sentence. It keeps the book in the forefront of my mind. But I don't have a set time or schedule to follow.
QT: How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
Miranda Leiggi:
I lost count! I think I went through 4 major revisions, and lots of tweaking and polishing in between.
QT: Did you have beta readers for your book?
Miranda Leiggi:
Yes, and I adore every one of them. Their feedback was invaluable. I also worked with a developmental editor, which feels weird to say because we have since become good friends and she is one of my biggest cheerleaders. There were several agents who gave me really great feedback when passing on my full that I incorporated into later drafts. I am so thankful that they took the time to give me feedback, and my book is definitely stronger for it.
QT: Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
Miranda Leiggi:
I wrote the first draft with a premise and a vague idea of how I wanted it to end. After It was done, I did a reverse outline and started moving the pieces around until I'd wrestled it into something plot shaped.
QT: How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
Miranda Leiggi:
I started seriously querying this book in fall of 2021 and queried for about a year. I then took about a year off querying, and seriously restarted again this past fall. The previous book I queried for about a year, and still think I gave up on it too soon because I had no idea how querying worked.
QT: About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
Miranda Leiggi:
QT: On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
Miranda Leiggi:
I started with agents who repped my genre on QT, and cross checked with publishers marketplace to make sure they were legitimate agents. Then I'd see if they had websites or interviews and MSWLs to figure out if they might like my book, and if I might like them.
QT: Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
Miranda Leiggi:
I only tailored queries if there was something that I felt I could personally connect with on their agent profile or interviews, etc, without sounding weird. I wanted to be genuine when I could.
QT: What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Miranda Leiggi:
Don't give up! Cheer for the unicorn stories, but know that that isn't the norm. Querying can be very slow. It's even slowed down a massive amount from querying my first book to now. Heck, it's slowed down a massive amount from the start of querying this book to now. Take breaks for your mental health when you need it! It's not a sprint, it's a marathon, and you are still a person that needs to be taken care of, especially while querying.
QT: Would you be willing to share your query with us?
Miranda Leiggi:
Of course!

Query Letter:

Dear [AGENT],

I'm delighted to present you with IN THE MOUTH OF THE WOLF, a 109k YA fantasy novel. Set in a second-world inspired by the Italianate setting of Netflix's Medici, it will appeal to fans of the action and atmosphere of Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson and the mystery and intrigue of Seven Faceless Saints by MK Lobb.

Eighteen-year-old Rose has trained for ten years in the Silent Keep, a monastery devoted to the goddess of death. She's a mediocre assassin but an excellent liar, so she's shocked when she's assigned to a coveted position in the palace. Her training-partner-turned-best-friend, however, is imprisoned below the Keep in a brutal ceremony. Rose is offered a deal by the Queen Consort Loredana: saving her friend for the price of unwavering loyalty and putting down the Queen Consort's political rivals.

When Prince Ivaran is put on Rose's hit list, she realizes this is more than squabbling nobles. Rose discovers Loredana's plot to become the savior of the kingdom, and to that end, the Queen Consort has manufactured a terrible plague. As the lies begin to unravel, Rose must decide between upholding her oath to the Silent Keep and saving her best friend, or stopping Loredana from seizing control of the kingdom at the cost of countless lives. But Rose was taught to kill first and ask questions never, and with the weight of the kingdom on her shoulders, it will take all of her abilities not to end up at the point of someone else's knife.

In The Mouth of the Wolf is a standalone novel with series potential.

I am an Italian American living outside of Philadelphia with my boyfriend and our 1-year-old German Shepherd. I hold an MFA from Arcadia University, where my advisor—Eric Smith of P.S. Literary—and I workshopped the short stories that became the foundation of this novel. I run a theater program for high school students. In my free time, I am a super nerd, and I can often be found at a comic con cosplaying as Black Widow.

Thank you for your time!


Miranda Leiggi (she/her)

[Contact details]

Content Warnings: Scenes of near-drowning, violence, blood, emotionally manipulative authority figures, spiders, slight body horror