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An Interview with Erica M Chapman upon receiving an offer of representation.

01/04/2014

Erica M Chapman (emcwriter on QT) has signed with agent Christa Heschke of McIntosh & Otis, Inc..

Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you've found representation? What inspired you to write it?
TEACH ME TO FORGET is a YA Dark Contemporary about a girl who wants to die and the boy who won't let her go. I was inspired to write it due to my experience losing my dad to suicide when I was a sixteen. I wanted to write a story about the repercussions of suicide and the choices we make or don't and how they affect those around us, but from the POV of the person actually wanting to die.
How long have you been writing?
I've been writing fiction for about 7 years. I started writing it when I was unemployed one summer.
How long have you been working on this book?
I started this one the fall of 2012.
Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
Yes, many times. It's the nature of the publishing beast, I think. Having others around to encourage me helps me get through those times. My family and friends are my rocks. Also, I can't imagine not writing. I do it for me just as much as I do it for the potential readers ;o)
Is this your first book?
I've written 7 books now. Only 2 are fit to see any eyes at this point though ;o)
Do you have any formal writing training?
I was a journalism major in college and I've taken several creative writing courses. I've also been an editor at a publishing company.
Do you follow a writing 'routine' or schedule?
I do try to write or revise every night. Whether that happens is another story... Oh, hello Twitter. Distractions happen often ;o)
How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
This MS has gone through 2 revisions so far.
Did you have beta readers for your book?
Yes, an amazing group of people. I'm lucky to have some great critique partners and beta readers. They ALWAYS find things I don't even think of.
Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
It was all pants all the way. I wish I could outline though, would make it a lot easier! I wrote the first draft for this MS in one week.
How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
I queried this one for 3 months. Previously, it was about the same, 3 months.
About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
I sent 27 out and had 3 referrals.
On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
I researched each one and made sure they liked darker subjects and accepted and liked other sub-genres I write.
Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
Yes, every one. I think it's important to try and stand out in the midst of so many other queriers. I used Literary Rambles as a resource and of course, QueryTracker. I also googled each agent and checked out interviews and blog posts to find out their personalities and tastes.
What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
A query's job is to get an agent to read more. It's a sales pitch for your book. Keep that in mind when writing them. Also, have confidence. If agents have a posted time that you can check in or "nudge" do it. Think of it as a business partnership. Have patience as hard as it is, and keep writing and stay positive ;o)
Would you be willing to share your query with us?
Absolutely!

Dear Ms. Heschke,

I'm a writer who was previously represented by [name redacted]. Unfortunately, she has decided to pursue a different career path. Due to your desire for dark, issue-driven YA contemporaries, and the fact that you listed PERFECT CHEMISTRY by Simone Elkeles as one of your favorite contemporaries (it's one of mine too), I'm querying you with TEACH ME TO FORGET, a 57,000-word YA Dark Contemporary novel that blends elements of GOING TOO FAR by Jennifer Echols with the voice of Parker Fadley from Courtney Summers' CRACKED UP TO BE.

Ellery's bought the gun, made arrangements for her funeral, and even picked the day. A Wednesday. Everything has fallen in to place. Now all she has to do is die.

When her plans go awry and the gun she was going to kill herself with breaks, she does the one thing she has control over--return it and get a new one. After tormenting the crusty customer service associate by trying to return the gun with the wrong receipt, Ellery gets caught by the security guard who also happens to be someone she knows--the annoyingly perfect Colter Sawyer from her English class.

Colter quickly uncovers her secret and is determined to change her mind. After confessing his guilt over his brother’s suicide, he promises not to tell her secret. Ellery tries to fight her attraction to him as her life slowly unravels strand by strand, but when the reason for her nightmares shows up in town, she must choose whether her love for one boy is more important than a lifetime of pain.

I've included my synopsis and first three chapters per your submission guidelines.

Thank you for your time and consideration.