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An Interview with Casey Dembowski upon receiving an offer of representation.

11/01/2016

Casey Dembowski (CaseyD5915 on QT) has signed with agent Danielle Burby of Nelson Literary Agency, LLC.

Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you’ve found representation? What inspired you to write it?
Watch the Sky is a women's fiction novel about a young women whose estranged father passes away, and she has to return to his hometown for the funeral.
How long have you been writing?
I remember writing stories back in second grade, though I would say I really started writing on a daily basis around age 12. I have stacks of notebooks of stories I wrote on my own and with my best friends.
How long have you been working on this book?
Amazingly, about six years. I finished my first draft in 2011, and then have been tinkering and in some cases completely revising it for the last five years.
Do you have any formal writing training?
I have an MFA in Creative Writing from Adelphi University.
How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
I would say three times over the course of the last five years -- at least with changes that directly effected plot and character arcs.
Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
I wouldn't say I outlined my book, or any of my writing, but I also generally have a plan in my head for where things are going. That said, I'm completely open to change. If my characters want to do something off plot or unexpected, I tend to go with it and see where it leads.
How long have you been querying for this book?
I queried earlier versions of this briefly before now, but this version of the book I have been querying for 18 months.
About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
I sent about 70 query letters in total in this round.
What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
It just takes one. I found agent who loved my book and was willing to take the time to give me revise and resubmit feedback. I took that to heart and implemented those changes. It led to getting an offer of representation. The whole querying process with my agent took 15 months however. Just keep writing; keep tinkering. Every critique you get, every workshop or conference you attend, every book you read, will make your writing better. It may take a long time, but all it takes is one agent to fall in love with your book.
Would you be willing to share your query with us?
Sure! I don't think this is a conventional query -- people tended not to like it when I had query critiques and I mention authors outside my genre--which is a big no-no. It just happened to work for me.

My goal in writing has always been to write a book that meant everything to someone, not something to everyone, and Watch the Sky is that book. It's the type of book that speaks to you. For me, the book was The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen. I have spent a great deal of time researching agents since finishing my novel, knowing that it needs the right agent and home to reach its audience. After following you on Twitter and on #MSWL, and reading about your interests, I feel that together we can get Watch the Sky to the readers who don't know that they are waiting for it.

It's been ten years since Andi Scott has been to her father’s house. Ten years since she’s driven the familiar mountain roads of Route 17 to Fairford, New York. It’s ten years too soon. Andi has spent the last decade forgetting her father's existence, but ever since the unwelcome news of his death, she has thought about little else. Memories of the year she lived with her negligent, alcoholic—and sometimes abusive—father haunt her and guide her back to a past she has tried to ignore. Nothing is as she expected—not her father's memory, not her now-teenaged siblings, and definitely not the former love of her life, Corey Johnson. As Andi allows those she’s left behind back into her life, she finds that nothing is as she left it and closure is messy.

Witty and honest Watch the Sky is a fresh take on love, loss, and the general ennui of life in your twenties. Watch the Sky is a completed women's fiction manuscript at 75,697 words. It has potential for at least one sequel. Fans of Megan McCafferty, Meg Cabot and Jennifer Weiner will feel right at home in the world of Watch the Sky, and young adult and new adult fans will relate to Andi as she tries to navigate her rocky relationship with Corey.