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Success Story Interview - V L Buckland

An Interview with V L Buckland (VLBuckland on QT) upon receiving an offer of representation from agent Jen Marshall of Aevitas Creative Management.


QT: Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you've found representation? What inspired you to write it?
V L Buckland:
THE UNTOUCHABLES is a paranormal, creepy crime novel. Working its way backwards through a horrific murder, THE UNTOUCHABLES is an exploration of a killer’s psyche. Its detective can "see" things by touching people and objects. Inspiration? Having been raised on R. L. Stine and those beautiful and chilling SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK books by Alvin Schwartz as a child (those illustrations, though!), I crave the dark that defines all of us, and I explore it like you'd explore a very, very old attic with only a flashlight - with eyes wide open and my heart in my throat.
QT: How long have you been writing?
V L Buckland:
wrote my first book when I was like 9. I wrote my first full-length novel when I was 21. Can't believe that was twelve years ago! (That was not THE UNTOUCHABLES, by the way.)
QT: How long have you been working on this book?
V L Buckland:
I started writing the first draft on November 13, 2012, so off and on for almost 3 and a half years. I did take more than a year off as maternity leave, though, and to plunge into other books.
QT: Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
V L Buckland:
Oh my days, did I! All the time! In my worst moments, I wanted to give it all up. All of the queries, the high hopes and the crushing embarrassment of the constant rejections - I got so many rejections I got to the point where I actually asked myself what's the point? But my husband kept me on track when I was crying into my ice cream, and kept me supplied in hugs and wine, and my family and friends played a huge part in keeping me going. (And of course, QueryTracker! What a great resource for writers seeking agents!) And what did it most for me was wanting to set a good example for my daughter, now two years old. That, and when I found myself scrounging around under my desk (What was I doing? Hiding from disappointment? Dusting? I'm not sure), I saw all the manuscripts I've written over the years - there were so many of them - and I realized they were a part of me as much as my eyes and my hair and my skin.
QT: Is this your first book?
V L Buckland:
Oh, no no no. I have written 12 or 13 novels. Most of these are, of course, horrible. We don't talk about those.
QT: Do you have any formal writing training?
V L Buckland:
I have a Bachelor's degree in English and Creative Writing, and a Master's in English Literature. Other than that, nothing other than reading a lot and writing a lot.
QT: Do you follow a writing routine or schedule?
V L Buckland:
Pre-child, I wrote on the weekends, since I worked full-time. 5,000 words a day minimum, and I'd have a first draft cranked out in about two months. Now a first draft takes twice as long, as I only have one day a week free. But it works for me to write in long pulls like that rather than short sips. But I am always taking little notes here and there - on the train, on my lunch break, etc.
QT: How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
V L Buckland:
Hah! We're looking at eight drafts now, and there's going to be a ninth draft as I prepare to do a fresh round of edits. We might even make it to 10!
QT: Did you have beta readers for your book?
V L Buckland:
I did. I recruited four readerly friends to cast their eyes over it.
QT: Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
V L Buckland:
This one was very much a pantser, but I don't always do that.
QT: How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
V L Buckland:
I started querying in October 2013. (Less than 20 agents queried then). It wasn't until I started a new round of queries in February of last year that I started getting full requests. I have several other books, the first of which I started querying in March of 2010.
QT: About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
V L Buckland:
QT: On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
V L Buckland:
Any agents who were into literary fiction and thrillers/psychological suspense and anything dark. Preferably if all three were listed as their interests, they definitely got my query!
QT: Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
V L Buckland:
If the agent had just recently come to a new agency, or was a new agent entirely, I congratulated them on their new role, but other than that, no.
QT: What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
V L Buckland:
You know what I'm going to say, but I'll say it anyway: DON'T GIVE UP. I was about to throw in the towel a mere seven weeks ago. Just because it doesn't happen quickly or easily doesn't mean it won't happen. If you keep going, doing the best you can, the right agent is out there for you. And remember, it only takes one "Yes."