Success Story Interview - Tristina Wright

An Interview with Tristina Wright (TristinaWright on QT) upon receiving an offer of representation from agent Danielle Chiotti of Upstart Crow Literary.


QT: Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you've found representation? What inspired you to write it?
Tristina Wright:
Sure, CHILDREN OF THE GODS (current title - to be changed) is YA and a twisted retelling of Romeo and Juliet set in an alternate history of earth where the Greek Gods had a hand in human evolution. Earth is now populated with the modern descendants of Titans and Olympians who keep humans as slaves and ostracize the Daemon populace. It tells the story of Lucas (a Titan) and Pandora (an Olympian) who meet at a masquerade and, despite brutal laws of segregation between the races, fall in love. It's wonderfully epic and it's a story I've had in my head for years ever since I read the original myth of the Great War of the Titans. I wondered what would happen if that war were real and if, in the aftermath, the Titans and Olympians took over earth when it was still in its fledgling state. My agent said it reminded her of Baz Luhrmann's movies with all the glamour and darkness warring with the bright colors of the world. There's a masquerade and a carnival, a kiss in a funhouse of mirrors, and a massive labyrinth in the middle of the city.
QT: How long have you been writing?
Tristina Wright:
Since I was for *mumblemumble* years.
QT: How long have you been working on this book?
Tristina Wright:
I started it in May while I was querying another manuscript. I finished the first draft about twelve weeks later, went through one round of revisions with CPs, and another round of revisions with beta readers. Then started entering contests and querying in September.
QT: Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
Tristina Wright:
I hate to admit it but I actually did give up writing entirely after college for about 8 years. I had a couple professors who made no bones about their low opinion on my writing ability and it cut me pretty deep. I finally manned up, kicked those voices to the curb, and started writing again while I was pregnant with my first child. I realized I needed to follow my dream and that 12-year-old me would have been mightily unimpressed with older me. Plus, I want to be able to show my kids that they're capable of anything if they work hard enough no matter what anyone else around them says.
QT: Is this your first book?
Tristina Wright:
Second that I've officially queried.
QT: Do you have any formal writing training?
Tristina Wright:
I have a degree in creative writing, however I want to tell everyone out there that you don't need one. I simply wasn't interested in any other course of study at the time. But you can write from any life experience - just get the words out.
QT: Do you follow a writing routine or schedule?
Tristina Wright:
Oh, that's cute. I have a toddler and a newborn so my writing schedule right now is "Whenever I can." I keep the laptop on and up on a shelf and peck out what I can in between nursing, snacks, changing the DVD, visits to the park, and the ever elusive nap time.
QT: How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
Tristina Wright:
Twice before querying.
QT: Did you have beta readers for your book?
Tristina Wright:
Yes! And they were all amazingly fabulous and each brought something different to the table. This manuscript would not have been what it is today without them or my critique partners.
QT: Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
Tristina Wright:
I actually pantsed the whole first half then one of my CPs introduced me to Save the Cat's Beat Sheet and I was pleased to find my first half matched the beats. So I did a really rough outline for the second half and continued from there.
QT: How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
Tristina Wright:
I queried my first manuscript for just shy of a year. It got an offer from a small press but I declined, wanting to still pursue an agent. I queried this one starting in the beginning of September. Danielle requested a full manuscript about three weeks later. A few weeks after that, in mid October, I got an offer from another agent who ninjaed me from a contest so I sent out nudges to everyone who had my manuscript (nine total). Danielle emailed back that night with an offer and a request for The Call for the next evening.
QT: About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
Tristina Wright:
Thirty-six total plus a few direct submissions from contests.
QT: On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
Tristina Wright:
I used a similar list to what I already had from my previous manuscript. Then I added and tailored based on research.
QT: Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
Tristina Wright:
If I knew enough about them or knew they had recently asked for a specific something I could refer to, yes. Otherwise, my query introductions were pretty generic.
QT: What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Tristina Wright:
It's a lot of hurry up and agonizing wait. It also sucks, to be perfectly honest. Lots of polishing and perfecting and tweaking and then sending your, hopefully perfect, query letter out in to the world. The word "subjective" becomes the bane of your existence, and all you want is some clue as to why either your query or your sample pages aren't working. It can get depressing and frustrating. The best thing you can do is surround yourself with people who are going through the same thing as you. I never would have made it through the highs and lows of querying without my critique partners, beta readers, and writer friends on Twitter. They know *exactly* what every rejection feels like and, conversely, every request no matter how small. They're there to celebrate the highs and throw up a collective middle finger to the lows. So build a community to help you along and work on something new while you're querying. Give your brain something else to create and focus on so you aren't endlessly refreshing your inbox.
QT: Would you be willing to share your query with us?
Tristina Wright:

Query Letter:

One Night –
A Masquerade under a sky stamped with the silhouettes of airships.

Two Races –
Olympians and Titans living in the automaton luxury of steam technology.

Three Fates –
Who impose the death penalty on interracial relations.

Four Oracles –
Give an Olympian girl and a Titan boy a prophecy.

As a punishment for The Great War between the Titans and Olympians eons ago, the Fates laid down strict segregation laws between the two races that hold fast in this era of airships and glistening automaton cities. When an undeniable attraction transcends the masks and anonymity of the annual Masquerade, eighteen-year-old Titan Lucas Vassallo must make a brutal decision – sacrifice everything for the enticing Olympian Pandora Rines, or submit to the age-old laws no one questions. In the midst of a world taut under the strain of segregation, their defiance of the Fates may cost them their lives.

CHILDREN OF THE GODS is a modern YA steampunk Romeo and Juliet twisted up in the Greek myth of Eros and Psyche. It is complete at 75,000 words and is the first in a planned 2-book series with ideas for companion novels.

When I’m not feverishly carving words from my brain, I dye my hair crazy ombre colors, plan more tattoos, wrangle my children, and write both YA and Adult Romance. I’ve been obsessed with Greek mythology since I was a little girl. I fell in love with the story of the Titanomachy and the myth of Eros and Psyche and wondered what would happen if, in some alternate history of our planet, it were all true.