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An Interview with Erin Bowman upon receiving an offer of representation.

Erin Bowman (erin_bowman on QT) has signed with agent Sara Crowe of Pippin Properties, Inc..

Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you've found representation? What inspired you to write it?
Of course! My novel THE LAICOS PROJECT is a YA dystopia – part sci-fi, part thriller – and it's about a boy named Gray, who lives in a primitive community where all boys mysteriously vanish upon turning 18. After the disappearance of his older brother, Gray begins to question everything about the place he's called home and climbs the Wall surrounding his town – a feat which none before him have survived – in search of answers.

The idea for this novel actually wandered into my head while I was working on another manuscript. I sat on it for awhile, and eventually the characters were following me everywhere, specifically Gray. I knew I couldn't not tell his story, and so I finished the other manuscript and then immediately started on LAICOS.

How long have you been writing?
I've been writing casually since the day I could string words together. But I've been approaching writing seriously, as a possible career, for the last two and a half years.
How long have you been working on this book?
About eight months. Three months of writing, a month of ignoring, followed by several months of revising with fresh eyes!
Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
There were days that I thought my writing was horrid. Or that my story was terrible. Or that I would never finish. On those days, the writing community was a great outlet. Everyone goes through these emotional pitfalls. I knew I was not alone and so I stayed positive and powered through.
Is this your first book?
I wrote another novel before this one that was a huge learning experience. I never queried it, and perhaps I'll revisit it one day, but LAICOS is my first book that has earned me representation.
Do you have any formal writing training?
Nope!
Do you follow a writing "routine" or schedule?
Daily if possible, if only for an hour. But I personally write best when I have several hours set aside. So my weekends are when most of my writing takes place. I wake up early, grab a cup of coffee and get cozy with my laptop.
How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
There is no way I could even guess at the number of times I read through and edited this novel before querying. But I do know the number of "significant" edits: Two. The first I did on my own, when I cut about 20k from my initial draft (I tend to ramble), and then a second after my critique partner offered some amazing advice. Her thoughts were spot on, and I think I knew, deep down, that these weak spots existed and I had just avoided them. With her nudging, I tackled that second significant edit, and then the story went out to agents.
Did you have beta readers for your book?
Nope, just an amazing critique partner. (I'm not counting close friends or family as betas)
Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
I outline, but very loosely. For this book I wrote down some key things and then wrote the rest from the hip. Some things that came from that were wrong and were cut, others happened organically and wonderfully and I truly believe they would not have come into being had my outline been more exhaustive.
How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
This is the only book I've queried and I snagged my agent after just 40 days. It was amazing (and humbling)!
About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
Just shy of 20.
On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
Obviously agents' reputations and sales records and if they represented my genre came into play. But above all, I did a lot of research and made sure I truly felt that my story was something an agent would care to read. I also tried to get a feel for each agent's personality through blogs, twitter, and online interviews.
Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
Every query I sent was personalized. I wanted an agent to immediately see that I had done my research and understand that I was querying them for a very specific reason (their interest in similar genres/stories, something I read in an interview they gave, etc). That personalized bit went first in my letter, just one quick line, and then I jumped into my query.
What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Do your research and take your time. Take lots of time. You spend months and years writing your novel. Put equal effort into your queries. And no matter what, don't stop writing. Ever!