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An Interview with Iga V Pietrzak upon receiving an offer of representation.

04/12/2018

Iga V Pietrzak (igav2017 on QT) has signed with agent Hannah Sheppard of DHH Literary.

Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you've found representation? What inspired you to write it?
My novel follows the lives of high school kids through their ups and downs, meanwhile their mysterious hometown is haunted by legends of a curse. It gives the reader a front-row seat to the teenage world of stereotypes, identity crisis, cliques and crushes, while touching on more global adult-world issues like governmental corruption, social-economic divides and discrimination.
Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
I never felt like giving up. That might be because I wasn't looking towards an end goal, rather writing as it has always been my favorite pass-time. I was only fazed by the notion that after summer was over I would be in year 11 and take my IGCSE exams, meaning I wouldn't have time to write. This further motivated me to keep going and finish that novel before the end of the summer.
Is this your first book?
As matter of fact, this happens to be my tenth book if I remember correctly. I always loved writing stories and books. My first was a three hundred page book I wrote at the age of 10 but of course it was nowhere near good enough to try and publish. This debut novel is my first attempt at publishing something.
Do you have any formal writing training?
No - all I have is a remarkable English Language teacher at school who taught me to analyse prose techniques. I draw particular inspiration from Scott Fitzgerald's enviable way with words and writing style.
Do you follow a writing 'routine' or schedule?
Not really. In my specific case, school covers most of the routine part, whereas an hour of writing is somewhat an end-of-the-day treat. During the holidays I absolutely dive into it and can spend an entire day writing - this novel was written in two months last summer which gives you an idea of how intense that writing schedule was!
How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
So far there were two grand revisions but to be fair I changed things all the time as each time I read through, there was always something that didn't seem quite right. Overall, I wrote a rough copy the first time around to get the story-line straight, then went back to work on the language and atmosphere.
Did you have beta readers for your book?
I had a couple classmates and friends from outside of school read it.
Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
There was a clear outline. In my story this was crucial as there were lots of characters with parallel plots which had to be carefully intertwined in a non-confusing way. Starting the novel, I already knew how it would end and had visions of scenes I wanted to place in it but of course I adapted a lot along the way.
How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
It's been about half a year. I was quite surprised to receive two offers after such a short time, as from what I have heard, I was prepared that looking for an agent would take much longer.
About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
About 50 I sent back in September/October and about 50 at the beginning of 2018 from which most of the agents haven't replied yet.
On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
I had to make sure they were relevant for the genre of my story, so the main criteria was naturally whether they were interested in representing young adult novels.
What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
I would advise other writers to be persistent. Nonetheless, scavenging for agents is a time consuming process and at times even a frustrating one - several agents would ask me to make changes - sometimes radical changes - and after they read my updated manuscript, still decided against it. However it's important to stay motivated and open-minded, listening to the agents' pointers because following their advice can really help to develop your book into the best it can be.