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An Interview with Amber Thielman upon receiving an offer of representation.

08/12/2014

Amber Thielman (matchbox_girl on QT) has signed with agent Katie Reed of Andrea Hurst Literary Management.

Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you’ve found representation? What inspired you to write it?
The novel, TRIAL, is a New Adult thriller about a young woman who is taken hostage at gun point and eventually ends up falling in love with her captor. (I don't know how much I'm really allowed to say, so I'll leave it at that.) I don't know what exactly inspired it, but a few years ago I had a scene in my head of a hitchhiker being picked up on the side of the road out of the rain. It kind of blossomed from there.
How long have you been writing?
I wrote my first 20 page "novel" in middle school, while I was bored one day in Geography class. I've been writing ever since.
How long have you been working on this book?
I wrote the first scene in this books years ago. Probably back in 2011. Then I set it aside to work on something else and eventually came back to it. Once I decided I wanted to finish it, I think it took me about six months.
Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
Oh of course! I think every writer feels like they want to give up sometimes. The biggest thing for me was that I knew I could never do anything else. I couldn't NOT write. It had come to a point in my life where the feedback from agents and interns was growing. I knew that if a complete stranger could look at a manuscript and say, "This is actually pretty good" then I might have a chance. I had enough rejections to wallpaper my house, but like they say . . . it only takes one "yes."
Is this your first book?
No. TRIAL is technically my 6th completed manuscript, a few of which were written years ago by my teenage self and will not be read by anyone. Ever. ;)
Do you have any formal writing training?
No. Though Creative Writing and English were always favorite classes of mine, I had no formal training. I just come up with ideas and write about them :)
Do you follow a writing "routine" or schedule?
I've tried that before, but it never seems to work for me. Generally I'll just open up Word on my computer whenever I'm on it and wait for inspiration to come. I try to write a little bit every day, but sometimes I won't write for a week or more.
How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
When I sent the first rough draft to my soon-to-be agent, she sent it back with a R&R. It needed tons of work but had potential. I worked on revisions for four days straight. (One day writing almost fifteen hours without a break.) I added about 20K words. The second round was much easier and I was finished within a day or so. All in all, probably three or four times.
Did you have beta readers for your book?
Honestly, no. I've never had beta readers. At one point I had sent a rough draft of a YA novel I'd written to an agent, and her intern read it. She ended up absolutely loving it, and said that my rough draft was as good as some people's third draft. When she asked about CP's, I didn't even know what that was. I know beta reader's come highly suggested for writers, so I would definitely recommend them to any writer needing a second opinion.
Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
I very rarely outline my books. What happens is that randomly I'll think of a scene. It can be any scene with any character of any genre . . . really, anything. And I'll write that scene down. Sometimes it's one sentence, sometimes it's one page. And once that is down, I'll set it aside until the book starts to come together in my mind. My novels almost always evolve from one simple thing and grow from there.
How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
Once I finished the first draft of TRIAL, I queried the book for about four months before Katie asked to see it. However, I've been querying other books for as long as seven years.
About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
Probably thirty, give or take. At the same time I was also pitching two other books so my entire focus was not on Trial.
On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
Because I had a NA, a YA, and an apocalyptic novel all finished and ready to pitch, I had quite the array of agents to pitch to. For Trial, I looked for agents wanting New Adult and then agents wanting thrillers. Because NA was still newly emerging, I had a few agents tell me that they would consider the novel just a thriller without the NA. Others said differently. When I could find an agent wanting BOTH New Adult and thrillers, they were the best ones to query.
Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
On some I did, yes. Others, no. If I saw an agent and really, really thought we'd be a good match, I would mention something in the query letter that I had noticed or read about them. I came to notice that it didn't make much of a difference, though. It was the agents that received the standard queries that always requested more.
What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Never give up. Also, don't pester agents on social networking sites. I found out the hard way that they don't like that. It may feel like you're being friendly, but it comes off as unprofessional. And above all, query, query, query. (Unless you've queried over 100 times with no luck, it's probably time to work on your pitch.)
Would you be willing to share your query with us?
Sure! My query for Trial is below:
Dear "Ms. Agent",

I am seeking representation for my 70,000 word thriller, TRIAL.

Kassidy Harding is newly engaged and content with her life until she makes the mistake of picking up a hitchhiker. Logan seemed kind, charming . . . trustworthy. Now, with a gun to her head and an alleged killer in the backseat, she is taken hostage and forced to drive Logan across country to escape law enforcement. The Feds may be hot on their trail, but they always seem to be just one crucial step behind.

As moments between them pass, Logan digs deeper into her soul than her fiancé ever did. He forces her to face her demons, including the death of her parents, her fear of intimacy, and her secret cutting. This man, so terrifying and dangerous, is the puzzle piece she's been missing. Now, not only is Kass open and vulnerable for him, but even Logan finds himself opening up to and trusting this girl that---upon meeting---he almost couldn't stand. Now, their emotions are torn between escaping this disaster and never seeing each other again, or taking it head on, side-by-side.

Kass can only hope that by the time she makes her decision, it's not too late.

I am currently a writer, EMT, full time Developmental Technician, as well as an intern for Louise Fury at The Bent Agency. TRIAL is my sixth manuscript, and it is complete at 70,000 words. I believe TRIAL will appeal to New Adult aged readers with not only a love for suspense, but also a desire for a dysfunctional, hot-under-the-collar romance.

Thank you for your time and consideration. Please note that this is a simultaneous submission.

Amber Thielman