Success Story Interview - Moorea Corrigan

An Interview with Moorea Corrigan (reacorrigan on QT) upon receiving an offer of representation from agent Sarah Landis of Sterling Lord Literistic.


QT: Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you've found representation? What inspired you to write it?
Moorea Corrigan:
My book, Thistlemarsh, is a historical fantasy set in 1919 and it is Downton Abbey meets Heather Fawcett's Emily Wilde's Encyclopedia of Faeries. My inspirations were moving into my childhood home after my parents moved to live with my grandmother, my time studying for my undergrad in the UK, and my love of Irish and English folklore.
QT: How long have you been writing?
Moorea Corrigan:
I have been writing since I was about eight years old.
QT: How long have you been working on this book?
Moorea Corrigan:
I first started playing with the idea of Thistlemarsh in January 2019, but I did not finish it until February 2023.
QT: Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
Moorea Corrigan:
Absolutely! There was a time in the summer when I got a string of rejections that really put me down and out. But my support system (my family, friends, and writing group) helped me pick up the pieces and try again.
QT: Is this your first book?
Moorea Corrigan:
Thistlemarsh is my third complete novel.
QT: Do you have any formal writing training?
Moorea Corrigan:
I have a bachelor's degree in English Literature from the University of Edinburgh and a master's degree in Publishing from Simon Fraser University. My hands-on writing experience is mostly from writing groups from high school up until now, as well as workshops like the Futurescapes Writing Workshop.
QT: Do you follow a writing routine or schedule?
Moorea Corrigan:
Every few months, I try to do a "write something every day" challenge, but I mostly keep track of the days I write in my planner. I also participate in events like Nanowrimo with friends. We are not in it to win, but the added challenge of us all working at the same time adds some competition. We all end up writing more.

While actually writing, I always start the session with a 5-minute timer where I can get settled, check social media, etc. Then, when it goes off, I listen to a specific song to get in the writing mood (Trøllabundin by Eivør).
QT: How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
Moorea Corrigan:
About three times, but I anticipate more editing going forward as well.
QT: Did you have beta readers for your book?
Moorea Corrigan:
I had four beta readers, as well as my three-member writing group.
QT: Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
Moorea Corrigan:
I used an outline, particularly paying attention to Save the Cat for structure tips. Although I deviated from my outline, just having it as a base helped when I was stuck.
QT: How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
Moorea Corrigan:
I started querying Thistlemarsh at the end of March 2023. In the past, I was querying another book for about a year before I started on a new project.
QT: About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
Moorea Corrigan:
I sent out 31 queries for Thistlemarsh.
QT: On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
Moorea Corrigan:
When selecting agents to query, I looked at their MSWL, social media, and websites. If they seemed to be a good fit for my book in tone and interests, I queried them.
QT: Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
Moorea Corrigan:
I tailored my queries to each agent by altering my introduction to highlight how I thought my book would suit their list.
QT: What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Moorea Corrigan:
Don't give up! Have lots of people look at your query and be willing to change it. If you are not getting requests, change up your query. Adhere to the agency guidelines as well.
QT: Would you be willing to share your query with us?
Moorea Corrigan:
I am happy to share! Here is my final query with my marks for tailoring to specific agents.

Query Letter:

Dear ___,
I hope this letter finds you well.
My historical fantasy novel, THISTLEMARSH, is complete at 121,000 words. While reviewing your [MSWL/website/social media], I noticed you are interested in [INSERT]. With this in mind, I believe my book may be a good fit for your list.
In the wake of World War I, the world is a decidedly unmagical place for Mouse Dunne. The Faeries have been gone for over one hundred years, the war has shattered her dreams of becoming a Faerie anthropologist, and her brother is suffering from devastating shell shock when Mouse receives news that her uncle, Lord Dewhurst, has left her Thistlemarsh Hall, a dilapidated manor in the English countryside. Mouse is amazed that the house has been left to her, considering her complicated relationship with the building. As a child, she was emotionally abused at Thistlemarsh by Lord Dewhurst, but the manor is also the last place she and her brother were truly happy together. Thistlemarsh is also one of the last estates to have ties to the Faerie King, a subject that has drawn Mouse's interest since childhood. But there is a catch in Lord Dewhurst's offer: if Mouse does not rehabilitate the crumbling house in a single month, Thistlemarsh will go to the horrid Lord Carlyle, who Mouse suspects had a hand in her brother's injury and the death of her beloved cousin.
A single day of work assures Mouse that she cannot possibly repair the manor and grounds in the allotted time. All is seemingly lost, and that is when Thornwood, a mysterious Faerie lord, appears. He offers to use his magic to repair Thistlemarsh, for a price…
Mouse knows enough about Faeries to be weary, but can she trust this one to help her? Will she unearth how deeply entangled Thistlemarsh’s ties are to the Faeries and heal the century-old rift between her world and theirs? Can she reconcile the ghosts of her past with her wishes for the future? Or will she lose Thistlemarsh Hall, and herself, in the process?
Told in limited third-person POV, THISTLEMARSH will appeal to fans of Heather Fawcett's Emily Wilde's Encyclopedia of Faeries for its cozy-historical (but somewhat dark) atmosphere and snarky romance, Alix E. Harrow's Starling House for its use of a mysterious house as an illustration of complicated generational trauma, and Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell for its creepy and folkloric take on Faeries.
I hold a bachelor's degree with honors in English Literature from the University of Edinburgh and a Master of Publishing degree from Simon Fraser University, Vancouver. I’ve attended the Futurescapes Writing Workshop since 2017. I currently work at the academic press Lynne Rienner Publishers. When I was in high school, my YA novel The Gate of Memories (2014) was published by the now-defunct Grumpy Dragon Press. THISTLEMARSH is my debut adult fantasy novel.
Thank you for your time and consideration!
Moorea Corrigan (she/her)