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An Interview with Evelyn Okray upon receiving an offer of representation.


Evelyn Okray (okrayevelyn on QT) has signed with agent Heather Flaherty of The Bent Agency.

Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you’ve found representation? What inspired you to write it?
My book, The Awakening of a Deal Maker, is a pretty dark tale about a young girl who witness the betrayal and murder of her parents and is then shot dead because she wouldn't join their military. On the brink of death, she sells her soul for the power to control water and a promise of revenge. She then becomes a war criminal and for six years, loses herself to the madness of war. But when she begins to inadvertently save people and gather a crew of followers, the idea of a rebellion spreads she must choose between the ones she loves and the revenge she so desperately seeks.

This was inspired mainly from all the TV shows I watched growing up like One Piece, Naruto, Supernatural, and Avatar: The Las Air Bender. Plus life struggles.

How long have you been writing?
I've been writing seriously since May 2009.
How long have you been working on this book?
May 2009.
Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
My wanting to quit and give up comes in cycles, like every few months, but because writing this story has become an addiction, I always pick it back up. The hardest blows though are always rejections of full requests.
Is this your first book?
Yes, this is the book that started me writing.
Do you have any formal writing training?
Not at first, but I'm currently minoring in creative writing.
Do you follow a writing "routine" or schedule?
I don't really have a routine. I write when I fell like it, but usually get about five chapters done withing a month.
How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
This is has been an ongoing editing process for five years, but has gone through three major revisions.
Did you have beta readers for your book?
Oh yes. Anyone who asked got a copy.
Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
I outline major events that I want to happen in order, but the in-betweens are improvises.
How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
I've been querying this book for five years. But if it was accepted any sooner, it wouldn't as good as it is.
About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
Over 150.
On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
At first it was any who were interested in my genera, but then I began targeting new agents, fresh in the industry.
Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
Not at first, but towards the end I did. It still didn't get me anywhere.
What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
I found my agent in a strange way. It wasn't researching agency websites, or search engines. It was on Twitter. I was looking up agents to follow from my rejection list and when I came upon Susan Hawk from the Bent Agency, I saw a post she made about a new agent who joined just two days ago. Then, I found the agent on Twitter, got the guts to message her, "so, interested in any YA action/adventure fantasy?" And while she was reviewing my submission, I made sure in incorporate myself in as many of her posts as I could. (Calling it sucking up if you want). But it showed her that I was really interested in her and someone she could get along with.

So, don't be afraid to message agents and “elevator pitch” them online. Twitter has a bazillion contests, ask the agency sessions, and so much support from fellow writers.

Would you be willing to share your query with us?
Dear Heather Flaherty,

She will risk not only her life, but her very soul to save a world that wants nothing more than to watch her burn.

THE AWAKENING OF A DEAL MAKER is the first in a four part series. It's a darker YA, action/adventure fantasy with a 93,000 word count. It's Graceling meets The Hunger Games (without the love triangle) with elements from Marie Lu's Legend series.

War has stained the seas for as long as anyone can remember. The World Government started it and after three-hundred years, is closer than ever to seizing the last two nations outside their reach, Nezumi and Diabolito.

Of all the war criminals, the name of one sixteen-year-old stands alone: Victoria, the Tide Ripper. After soldiers from the Empire killed her and her family, she was more than willing to sell her soul for a promise of extraordinary power and a chance for revenge. But after years of fighting on the high seas, she bands together with the people whose lives she had inadvertently saved, and for the first time, she must choose between the ones she has grown to love and the vengeance she so desperately seeks.

There is a way she can have both though. A rebellion, a world wide rebellion that will only succeed if she can bridge an alliance between Nezumi and Diabolito. If she wants to end this war and earn her soul back, she must unite the nations before they kill her and each other.

I am a computer animation major as SHSU and minoring in creative writing. When I'm not studying films or animating flour sacks, I'm writing. Always writing. I attend SCBWI conferences whenever I can and have volunteered in the Huntsville, Tx BookUp program.

Why am I the one to write this series? Because I love it so much. Unlike other female YA books on the market, my main character doesn't revolve around a boy. She's a total badass, a cold-hearted, but reparative modern Joan of Arc. So much research has gone into this because as an artists, I'm a stickler for details. But my favorite element of this book is the idea of redemption, something I know everyone can relate to.


Evelyn Okray