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Success Story Interview - Salvantonio Clemente

An Interview with Salvantonio Clemente (SalvantonioClemente on QT) upon receiving an offer of representation from agent Sara Crowe of Sara Crowe Literary.


QT: Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you've found representation? What inspired you to write it?
Salvantonio Clemente:
ELIZA JACK SPENCER AND THE OBELISK OF WOE. 1910. Manhattan. Alice Roosevelt (Teddy's daughter and 'America's Princess') and her old school chum, Eliza Jack Spencer team up against New York Society, men, and a bevy of reborn Egyptian gods. Think: Raiders of the Lost Ark, if Marion swung the whip. As to what inspired me to write the story? A name on a tombstone where I walk every day, and an article online about the enigmatic Alice Roosevelt.
QT: How long have you been writing?
Salvantonio Clemente:
Throughout my life I've written stories, poems, lyrics, screenplays, and always have way too many characters talking in my skull. The Eliza Jack book is my second crack at a novel length narrative.
QT: How long have you been working on this book?
Salvantonio Clemente:
I've worked on the book for three years.
QT: Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
Salvantonio Clemente:
I'm constantly drawn to shiny new objects, so I find it an extreme challenge to stay focused. Fortunately, I'm well-disciplined when it comes to artistic endeavors.
QT: Is this your first book?
Salvantonio Clemente:
This is my second book, and I learned a great deal in the process. Given that, I'm determined to eventually circle back to the first.
QT: Do you have any formal writing training?
Salvantonio Clemente:
I am a terrible student but the nuns taught me self reliance.
QT: Do you follow a writing routine or schedule?
Salvantonio Clemente:
I work in spurts, but once I've determined where the story needs to go, I do my best to set it down.
QT: How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
Salvantonio Clemente:
I edited relentlessly. A total of six times through, at least. Some sections suffered through ten or eleven revisions. I rewrote the first five hundred words at least one hundred times. Every word.
QT: Did you have beta readers for your book?
Salvantonio Clemente:
My first readers (two authors who I greatly respect) saved the book. The next readers, a group of eight organized by a friend, provided advice which guided the final draft, a page-one rewrite wherein I cut 10% of the text and wrung every bit out of the effort I possibly could.
QT: Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
Salvantonio Clemente:
I worked from a ten-thousand word outline, which allowed me to drift anywhere I wished. Always knowing I had anchor points.
QT: How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
Salvantonio Clemente:
This was my first attempt at finding an agent, and I queried this book for eleven months.
QT: About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
Salvantonio Clemente:
I searched very specifically for agents who might connect with the characters and plot and sent out roughly fifteen queries.
QT: On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
Salvantonio Clemente:
I searched for active and experienced agents.
QT: Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
Salvantonio Clemente:
I did my best, without exaggerating, to let each agent know that I appreciated their range of experience and their expertise.
QT: What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Salvantonio Clemente:
Work as hard as you possibly can on your book, then redouble your efforts. If you find something to fix, do so. Putting the work in is the only way our books will stand out.
QT: Would you be willing to share your query with us?
Salvantonio Clemente:
Here is the email query I sent to Sara at Sara Crowe Literary.

Query Letter:

Hi Sara!

I know you’re busy, so here’s my pitch.

Manhattan. The heatwave of 1910. And twenty-six-year-old Alice
Roosevelt—hedonist socialite and daughter of the former
president—hates to sweat. What then to do about an irresistible

thriller/adventure of 90,000 words. As visceral as The Alienist, as
sharp as HULU’s The Great, as relentless as Raiders of the Lost Ark…
if Marion had cracked the whip.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art knows how to throw an exclusive party,
but Alice arrives to find the staff in dismay. A chance reunion with
Eliza Jack Spencer—art authenticator and Alice’s former
schoolmate—reveals the cause. The prize of the Egyptian exhibit, the
age-old Obelisk of Woe, lies shattered in a pool of blood. But where
is the victim? And who toppled the monolith?

A battered journal, a blood-soaked blouse, and an ancient hallucinogen
lead the pair down rabbit holes Miss Wonderland never dreamt of.
Cryptic visions snatch Alice from the present and drop her into
Egypt’s forgotten past. Bloodless corpses appear only to vanish. A
belligerent patriarchy stymies Eliza’s every move.

As the once-best friends strive to solve the mystery, they soon
discover that much more than time separates them. One woman is
America’s Princess. The other grinds for every scrap of respect. Can
their strained partnership survive long enough to save the city from a
psychotic archeologist and a bevy of reborn Egyptian gods?

trio of stand-alone novels.

Thanks for your time Sara, and stay well!