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An Interview with Elle Stone upon receiving an offer of representation.

Elle Stone (Ellebones on QT) has signed with agent Rebecca Strauss of DeFiore and Company.

Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you’ve found representation? What inspired you to write it?
Captive Magic tells the story of the girl who’s tired of living in the magical museum the rest of us would kill to visit. Unfortunately for her, it’s located outside time and space and escape isn’t panning out.

Once I thought of my setting, I had to run with the idea. I like playing with tropes and the story twists common YA/fantasy elements in a way that’s familiar, but a little different. Instead of a story about a first contact with magic, the main character’s seen it all and wants to get away.

How long have you been writing?
Seriously for the past year and half. I’ve always written stories but never finished any of them because I was frustrated that my writing wasn’t up to par. Some of the content from my current MS comes from mythology I developed in my teens. None of the stuff I wrote then will ever see the light of day.
How long have you been working on this book?
It took a bit over a year. I started, threw out about 60 pages and started over. I was learning so much as I wrote that I slowed myself down with revisions, but my growth benefited the story. My original critique partners wouldn’t recognize the project as it is today.
Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
No. I forced myself into a situation where failure wasn’t an option. During my moments of doubt, my critique partners kept me optimistic and gave me specific feedback on the issues that were driving me to distraction. My MFA program has an excellent network of supportive writers. We commiserate and share our successes.
Is this your first book?
Do you have any formal writing training?
I’m a term and change away from attaining my MFA in Writing Popular Fiction at Seton Hill University. It’s tailored to writers of genre fiction and pairs students with professional writers. My past and present mentors are Nancy Holzner, Diane Turnshek, and the super-fantastic UF author, Nicole Peeler. I can’t say enough good things about the program! It turned my writing 180 degrees and gave me the guidance and knowledge I needed to succeed.

I’ll never tell anyone they "need" an MFA to be a successful writer, but it was what I personally needed to jumpstart my writing. The writer’s community at SHU is second to none and I’ve made any number of invaluable contacts there.

Do you follow a writing "routine" or schedule?
Rarely. My day job is coaching women’s lacrosse and my hours are erratic. I try to be at my desk from 10pm until I fall asleep at the keyboard, but as we all know, life interferes. As long as I know I’m chipping away at my word count, I don’t stress specific hours.
How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
More than I can count. I scrapped the original opening and made big and little changes throughout the process. I’m about to start another round with my agent, but I’m excited to begin. Every tweak so far has strengthened the story and I want to keep moving forward.
Did you have beta readers for your book?
Fantastic ones. I’ve had several great critique partners and mentors at Seton Hill, and have been set up with others through contacts there. It’s always great when you can find people that go above "I don’t like this," to something like: "I think x would be more effective if you changed y and z." Knowing WHY you’re making a change is crucial to improving your writing.
Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
I tend to write until my sub-plots start to get out of hand. At that point I outline until I know how everything needs to fall together.
How long have you been querying for this book?
About a month, and I wasn’t expecting to succeed so soon. It took me by surprise! However, I had a good idea what I needed to do going in…I’m active in’s Query Kick-Around group, and worked in the publishing industry before I went back to school. I did the work and the research and knew that my project wasn’t perfect, but was at the level where it could happily go out into the world. My mentor connected me with Rebecca, and that personal connection sped up the process.
On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
I found Rebecca through Nicole Peeler’s personal recommendation. She’s just beginning to build her YA list and I could feel her energy as soon as we started talking about my project. It’s not so much who you can get as how excited they are about your work. As a young author, I was looking for a younger agent that was hungry and looking to build long term relationships with new clients. Rebecca had that, and immediately started making revision suggestions that jived with what I thought I needed to be done.
What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Stay focused on your writing and keep learning new things! It’s so easy to get caught up in what you "should" be doing, or following blogs & reading articles when practicing craft is the most important element on the road to success. Seek feedback on your work, consider every comment, and never answer a reader’s honest thoughts with a rebuttal. People who are willing to spend time reading & commenting on anything you write are gold.
Would you be willing to share your query with us?

Dear Agent:

Growing up in an enchanted museum should be heaven. For Violet, it’s a prison sentence. She’s done with charms, spells, and all that magical nonsense. She wants a normal life in the outside world and will do close to anything to break free.

When her latest escape scheme collapses, Violet’s left in the rubble with Oriel--a green-eyed sorcerer on the hunt for a lost charm. His love spell entrances Violet long enough for him to override her judgment and wake a host of imprisoned statues. Now Violet has to baby-sit a pack of freed royals while she combats the creatures loosed into the corridors. A tiger stalks her footsteps, an unknown force opens doors that can’t be opened, and a plague goddess infects her world’s foundations.

As friends disappear and charms rampage, Violet will have to overcome dark magic--and her own murky past--to survive. It’s her against all comers, and magic demands sacrifice. Is Violet willing to surrender her dream of life outside to protect the home she despises?

Captive Magic was completed as my thesis in the MFA in popular fiction program at Seton Hill University. The completed manuscript is 66k words targeted to a teen YA audience--a mix of Night At The Museum and the quirky magic of Harry Potter.

Thank you for your time & consideration.


Elle Stone