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Success Story Interview - V. Madabushi

An Interview with V. Madabushi (Viddiest on QT) upon receiving an offer of representation from agent Rachel Crawford of Wolf Literary Services.


QT: Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you've found representation? What inspired you to write it?
V. Madabushi:
I am really interested in the lives of people living in the margins of society and aspects of this novel are taken from my own experience as a migrant in Australia.
QT: How long have you been writing?
V. Madabushi:
I've been writing since I was about 12. I started a diary and kept going for many years and my entries evolved into poems and stories as time went by.
QT: How long have you been working on this book?
V. Madabushi:
Four years.
QT: Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
V. Madabushi:
I found working through the pandemic very tough. I felt there was so much going on in the world and I questioned everything I was doing including my writing. When I received an encouraging email from Rach, checking on my work, it really helped motivate me and get the novel finished. I received an R and R from her and had been plodding through until then. A little encouragement at the right time goes a long way.
QT: Is this your first book?
V. Madabushi:
This is my second book.
QT: Do you have any formal writing training?
V. Madabushi:
I have a Masters in Creative writing.
QT: Do you follow a writing routine or schedule?
V. Madabushi:
I do not. I am terribly disorganised and write in spurts especially in the beginning of the work. As things start to take shape with the book, I become more and more organised.
QT: How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
V. Madabushi:
I edit constantly, but there were 4 major revisions for this book.
QT: Did you have beta readers for your book?
V. Madabushi:
Yes, always. I had 4 readers for this book.
QT: Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
V. Madabushi:
I don't outline at all. I have a very vague idea of where I am going, and I just feel my way there.
QT: How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
V. Madabushi:
About 1 year.
QT: About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
V. Madabushi:
I sent out 80 odd queries for this one. I received 6 fulls and a couple of partials. And a lot of rejections.
QT: On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
V. Madabushi:
I queried agents who I thought would be interested in the kind of themes I was exploring in the book.
QT: Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
V. Madabushi:
I read their websites carefully, as well as the MSWL expressed by them, watched/read any interviews that were available, and I made sure they knew I had done my homework. Often it was just a small reference to something they had said.
QT: What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
V. Madabushi:
Don't rush the querying and query too many agents at one time. I queried too many too soon. After workshopping my query at the forum here, my query got so much better, as did my first five pages, so I wish I'd sent them out in batches as I should have done.

Query Letter:

36-year-old Malli has not spoken out loud with another human being in thirteen years. Most people assume Malli is mute from birth, but she suffers from an unusual anxiety disorder that prevents her from speaking except when her voice rules are met. Rarely leaving her home in Bangalore, India, the highlight of Malli's life is the weekly phone call at 8 pm Sunday from her brother, Surya, who is studying in Australia. All Malli is able to contribute from her end is to tap the phone when a response is required of her. When Surya fails to call one Sunday, Malli's quiet life is thrown into disarray, forcing her to travel to Australia on a quest to find him.

Seeking answers online, Malli is grateful when a user on a Missing Persons forum offers to be her traveling companion. She is unprepared, however, for the wildly unconventional and embarrassingly outspoken man who turns up at her doorstep. Together, this odd couple must forge a bond to navigate their way to Surya.

In Sydney, student life is less glamourous than Surya imagined. He can endure the racist comments, the dirty bathrooms and the abysmal pay if it will secure him the elusive work visa which will allow him to stay in the country. However, when Surya falls in love with his employer's ‘girlfriend', it will lead him to question his values and commit an act of love, risking everything for which he has worked so hard.

Set in the precarious world of people living in the margins of society, the non-linear narrative spans a period of three weeks alternating between Malli's and Surya's journeys until their two timelines meet.

Readers of Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and The Orchestra of Minorities by Chigozie Obioma will enjoy this modern, political and unconventional love story.