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An Interview with Anna Karras upon receiving an offer of representation.

08/09/2015

Anna Karras (akarras823 on QT) has signed with agent Alexander Slater of Trident Media Group, LLC.

Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you’ve found representation? What inspired you to write it?
Cloak and Dagger is a young adult historical thriller set in Tudor England. Sixteen-year-old Arabella Gordon turns spy for the Crown to extricate herself from a horrific betrothal. My inspiration came from my huge love for historical fiction. But also, I love really strong female characters and wanted a kick-ass heroine like Buffy or Katniss.
How long have you been writing?
Scribbling since I could hold a pencil. I’ve been seriously writing for five years now. It was March 31, 2010 at approximately 4:45 p.m. I got the lightning bolt idea for my first novel.
How long have you been working on this book?
Nearly three years now, though the time has flown by.
Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
Of course! The querying process is absolutely brutal and I have nothing but total admiration for anyone who willingly putting themselves through it. Two things helped me not to give up: my absolute passion for writing. I can’t not write stories, they will come out regardless. The other is the unflagging support of my family and friends.
Is this your first book?
This is the second novel I have written. The first I queried but did not quite make it. But I learned so much from the first one that my second was leaps and bounds beyond the first.
Do you have any formal writing training?
I took several creative writing classes in college, and contemplated getting an MFA. In the end, my need for a paycheck won out and I went to library school instead.
Do you follow a writing "routine" or schedule?
Not a hard and fast one. I try to write a little every day, even if it is in my journal. But I can’t stress how important it is to keep at it. Butt-in-chair is the only way to finish a book, not waiting around for the muse to strike.
How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
I went through four drafts before I felt it was ready to send out.
Did you have beta readers for your book?
I had about a dozen folks read it and got some very good feedback.
Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
I am a total pantser. I have an idea of where I want the book to end, but getting there is the fun part. My characters are always surprising the hell out of me.
How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
I have been querying Cloak and Dagger for five months. My first novel I queried for about ten months before I put it aside. But I had started work on the second one by that time so I kept my momentum going.
About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
Ha. About 200. But I kept very careful track of them (thanks to Query Tracker!) and researched each agent thoroughly. Out of those queries I got 14 requests for more material.
On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
I started with the agents that listed both historical fiction and young adult as their favorite areas. After that, the rest of the young adult agents.
Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
Somewhat. I had the basic query letter but I always parroted back at the end what their personal submission requirements were.
What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
I got some terrific advice from author Benjamin Percy. He said, “Every time you face rejection -- and it will come regularly to every writer -- say ten Hail Marys, three fuck yous, slam a shot of whiskey and get back to work!” I plan on embroidering this on a pillow. Also, I can't stress how important it is to do your homework, and always be professional and courteous in your correspondence with agents. You can let your hair down after the contract is signed.
Would you be willing to share your query with us?

England, 1574. Intelligent and headstrong sixteen-year-old Arabella Gordon is trying to discover who murdered her father, a prosperous London mercer. She is the only one who knows he was secretly working for Sir Francis Walsingham, Queen Elizabeth’s Secretary and Spymaster. But her task is sidetracked when her loathsome stepfather promises her hand in marriage to Sir Josiah Fogg, a lecherous old fop. She takes her plight to the only man powerful enough to save her: Walsingham himself. Through him she strikes a dangerous bargain: observe Arthur Hilliard, Baron Thornton for signs of collusion to topple the government and he will arrange the end of her betrothal.

At Broad Oak House near Dover, her stepfather Baron Thornton and his friends gather for a midsummer house party. Arabella is perfectly placed to spy on the conspirators as the manor house once belonged to her father. Aiding her is Peter Greenhouse, 17, a newly hired groom. Together they use secret rooms, ciphered letters and take a clandestine midnight ride to the windswept Kentish coast to secretly observe a mysterious woman smuggled ashore. Just as they discover a plot to assassinate the queen their plans go awry and Arabella and Peter end up in very deep trouble indeed.

A librarian and voracious reader, I have written dozens of book reviews for Library Journal and School Library Journal. In my life I have examined history from many angles, from archaeology to art history but found that writing historical fiction is the most satisfying. My husband and I love to travel and wish to see as much of the wonders of the world as we can in our lifetimes.

CLOAK AND DAGGER is a young adult historical thriller with massive crossover appeal. It weighs in at just under 115,000 words. As per your submission guidelines I have pasted the below. May I send you the complete manuscript? Thank you for your consideration.