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An Interview with Diana Evans upon receiving an offer of representation.


Diana Evans (cupiscent on QT) has signed with agent Kurestin Armada of Root Literary.

Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you’ve found representation? What inspired you to write it?
"The Notorious Sorcerer's Penultimate Work" is an epic fantasy cocktail of alchemy, romance, organised crime, and disorganised rebellion, with a full supporting chorus of vengeful harpies, duelling gangs, crime lords, savvy prostitutes, bored delinquents and frothy debutantes. Basically, this novel was me throwing all of my favourite things into a melting pot and enjoying myself egregiously!
How long have you been writing?
Since I was about ten years old. Seriously writing, since I was about eighteen. With a genuine eye to publication, since about 2004 (age 24). It's been a long road to here, full of endless stalled-at-chapter-five ideas.
How long have you been working on this book?
About three years now, though the novel is an extrapolation from an even earlier novelette.
Is this your first book?
It's the third novel I've ever finished writing, and the second I've queried. If it sells - fingers crossed! - it will be my first ever published work.
Do you have any formal writing training?
I completed a diploma in professional writing and editing, through which I met the friends who are still my writing circle. But to be honest, I probably learned more about improving my writing through a few years of intense participation in online fanfic communities.
How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
One complete rough draft. I then revised (after a few months with the MS in a drawer) on my own to get rid of the oodles of problems and make it a coherent piece. This went to first round readers, and I revised a second time from their feedback. Then it went to second readers, following which I gave it one last fine-toothed-comb polish. So... four drafts? Three-and-a-half?
How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
I queried my first novel for two years, on and off and through a number of revisions. I started querying this book in mid July and received my first offer of rep in early October.
About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
I sent 30 queries, and also participated in an online query contest that reached a handful of other agents.
On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
First of all, did they rep my genre (epic fantasy). This can be tricky to ascertain, as there are a lot of flavours of "fantasy", and sometimes an agent would only be interested in urban fantasy, or even only YA fantasy. I did a lot of research into who had existing epic fantasy clients, or had been requesting other epic fantasy MSs. It was also important to me - living in Australia - that the agents accept email queries. Lastly, I prioritised agents I'd had positive engagements with before (when querying my first novel) and also agents who had expressed interest in elements I had in my novel - especially diversity - whether through twitter manuscript-wishlists or in interviews or otherwise.
Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
Where possible - where the agent had MSWL'd something I had in my book, or where they'd done an interview mentioning shared interests - I included a sentence or two of tailored info. I also checked submission guidelines carefully for an agent's preferred ordering of the query - some liked the genre/length/comparison titles up front, and others wanted to jump straight into the story hook.
What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
  1. Give an agent what they want - follow their guidelines and only query if your book is something they rep!
  2. Read all the query advice you can, and workshop your query letter in multiple places if possible. But at the end of the day, remember that each story is different, and you don't need every single agent to request. What you need is a query that connects with someone who's perfect for you and your story.
  3. Don't go into labour the same day you get your first offer of rep! It makes everything much harder! ;)
Would you be willing to share your query with us?

Since the Burnished City was shaken half into the sea by a magical earthquake, the Inquisitors have policed alchemy with brutal efficiency. Siyon Velo doesn’t let that bother him too much; he won immunity from their laws by stealing the Prefect’s son back from the infernal plane. But safety, security, and even infamy can grow tedious. So when Izmirlian Hisarani - rich, indolent, and just a little fascinating - asks to be evicted from reality, Siyon’s in.

To get away with it, he’ll need to avoid the attention of the Inquisitors as he solicits help from jinn, angels, demons and his mundane friends. But his old ally Anahid, an aristocratic housewife turned burgeoning criminal baron, is sleeping with the Inquisitor who once burned Siyon’s house down. Her younger sister Zagiri has connections Siyon needs, but she's trading harmless rooftop sabre duels for elegant ballgowns and explosive revolution.

Tangled up in their troubles, Siyon’s promise to help Izmirlian may see them both burn for black alchemy, and just when he’s fallen in love too. But he did promise, and that sorcerous vow is wound around his soul like barbed wire, twisting tighter every day...

THE NOTORIOUS SORCERER’S PENULTIMATE WORK is a standalone fantasy novel complete at 127,000 words. It combines the urban intricacies of The Lies of Locke Lamora with the mannered drama and debaucheries of Swordspoint in a setting that evokes the Caucasus and the Balkans.