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An Interview with Dan Lawton upon receiving an offer of representation.

02/26/2017

Dan Lawton (dlawton on QT) has signed with agent Mark Gottlieb 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?
PLUM SPRINGS is an literary suspense novel (upmarket) that revolves around two adolescent brothers who seek solace in a Kentucky forest after carrying out retribution against their abusive father.​
How long have you been writing?
I've been writing fiction since high school, but seriously got into it in college during a scriptwriting course.​
How long have you been working on this book?
Including the multiple revisions, it's been about a year since I started PLUM SPRINGS, probably more than. ​
Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
Not ever seriously, no. I had discouraging days, but I love writing, so I couldn't stop even if I tried.​
Is this your first book?
No, it's my fourth. My first two were self-published, and my third book was published by Solstice Publishing.​
Do you have any formal writing training?
I have a Bachelor's degree in Communication, and there was a lot of creative writing in my personalized program. But nothing beyond that.​
Do you follow a writing "routine" or schedule?
Whenever I can. I work during the day, so at night, after my daughter goes to bed, is the best time. Or when she naps on the weekends.​
How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
I submitted the third draft of PLUM SPRINGS.
Did you have beta readers for your book?
I did. I have three readers.​
Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
I wrote without an outline for my first two books, but found a basic outline (bullet points, short notes) helpful for books three and four. ​
How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
I queried my first two books for maybe six months each; my third for nine months; and this one, PLUM SPRINGS, for a grand total of one week​
About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
I send out lots at one time, so I probably sent 25 or so. Most of them hadn't responded before I got the offer. There were probably six or seven rejections, two fulls, and one partial (which turned into a rejection) and the rest were no response yet.​
On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
Mostly I just ensured my project aligned with what they were looking for. I skipped over those whose websites gave me a bad feeling. But otherwise I just queried the same agents as I had for my first three books, since I'd already vetted them in the past.​
Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
For PLUM SPRINGS I didn't. I tried to for my third book without much luck, so I tried a different avenue.​
What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
It's really difficult. Queries are so objective, so query widely. Build writing credentials if you can - my third book being published by a small/mid-size press was a factor in getting Mark to want to take a look. Don't give up. Keep writing. Start a new project if you're not getting traction with the one you're querying. ​
Would you be willing to share your query with us?
Sure thing: ​

Dear Mr. ​Gottlieb​,

PLUM SPRINGS is a literary suspense novel, complete at 71,000 words. It’s John Hart’s The Last Child meets Stephen King’s The Body.

Two adolescent brothers seek solace in a Kentucky forest after carrying out retribution against their abusive father.

Nine-year-old Rusty Travis’s hands are callused, his palate parched, his rationed portion of murky well water already gone. He spends his summers with his older brother in their father’s tobacco field, harvesting the crop that pays for the trailer they reluctantly call home. The years of abuse and neglect have worn them thin, and they’re pushed over the edge when their father–in another one of his drunken rages–goes after their baby sister for the first time. Their response: vengeance.

Learning to deal with what they’d done is only part of the internal struggle that ensues. The forest, while presenting its own problems, offers a canopy under which the brothers seek solace. But nothing comes easily in the wilderness, and when they stumble upon a mysterious runaway orphan, the truth about Rusty’s life begins to takes shape. Secrets are uncovered about himself and the people closest to him, leading Rusty to question everything he thought he knew.

Rusty comes of age in the forest of Plum Springs, Kentucky and beyond, where he learns what life is really about. He searches the towering oak trees for happiness, love, and acceptance, and finds what he seeks in the unlikeliest of places. And his brother is right by his side as they battle with the demons that shatter their world in the sleepy town of Plum Springs.

PLUM SPRINGS is my fourth novel. My third novel, Amber Alert, was published by Solstice Publishing, whereas my first two were self-published. I’m an active member of the International Thriller Writers Organization. By day, I work as a Technical Writer in New Hampshire, where I reside.

I wholeheartedly appreciate your consideration for representing PLUM SPRINGS, and I hope to hear back from you at your earliest convenience. If you're interested in seeing a partial or complete manuscript, Mr. Gottlieb, I'd be happy to send it along.

Best regards,

​​​​​Dan Lawton​