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Success Story Interview - Tori Bovalino

An Interview with Tori Bovalino (toribov on QT) upon receiving an offer of representation from agent Uwe Stender of Triada US 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?
Tori Bovalino:
It is a gender-swapped retelling of Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid. I wrote it for my sister as a college graduation present.
QT: How long have you been writing?
Tori Bovalino:
I've been writing for as long as I can remember. I wrote my first (short and terrible) novel when I was 11. I've been doing NaNoWriMo since 2009, so I've amassed a lot of material from that. Honestly, it's kind of horrible that I've been writing as long as I have because I've amassed a huge backlog of awful pieces that should never see the light of day.
QT: How long have you been working on this book?
Tori Bovalino:
Actually, not terribly long. I started the first draft in February and finished the latest draft in August. I had a very clear idea of what I wanted from this story, even when the ending changed in revision.
QT: Do you have any formal writing training?
Tori Bovalino:
I'm graduating with my BA in English fiction writing next month. I'll be continuing my education next fall.
QT: Do you follow a writing routine or schedule?
Tori Bovalino:
I try to write at least an hour a day, and I work best at night. It's hard since I'm in school. On weeks when I don't have a lot of time, I cram in as much as possible on weekends.
QT: Did you have beta readers for your book?
Tori Bovalino:
I had three friends and six beta readers read it. The friends actually gave better criticism than the beta readers, in my opinion, but I did tell the friends to be brutal.
QT: Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
Tori Bovalino:
I'm such an outliner. I wanted to know as many details as possible going in. When I know where the book is going and what I'm trying to achieve, it makes it easier to change things in revision and to track the changes as I go. Of course, the outlines change as I'm writing, so I try to keep them updated.
QT: How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
Tori Bovalino:
I had two rounds for this one. I queried a few people with the original draft in April/May, then again with the revision in September. I've been querying this version since September. I queried one book before this for about six months. That one is shelved indefinitely.
QT: Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
Tori Bovalino:
I did tailor each query. I had a space where I put personalization, and I always queried based on their #MSWL, clients I admired, or connections we shared.
QT: What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Tori Bovalino:
It's a marathon, not a sprint. Don't get discouraged. If you keep hearing the same feedback, that's when you need to take a second look. And don't put time limits on your dreams. It's better to take your time and put the best version out there than to rush into querying, which I learned the hard way.