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An Interview with Janella Angeles upon receiving an offer of representation.

03/22/2016

Janella Angeles (well_red on QT) has signed with agent Thao Le of Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you’ve found representation? What inspired you to write it?
It’s a YA fantasy set within a curse-locked ring of islands that holds an unpredictable sea. Raised in a Filipino household, my father always had a lot of fun telling stories and reminiscing about his youth spent venturing through the jungles, beaches, and exploring caves around his house in Mindanao. From listening to those tales that filled my imagination, and especially after visiting the Philippines a few years back, I’ve always just been dying to write an adventurous island-set story. And then of course, Pirates of the Caribbean was a huge source of inspiration for me as well!
How long have you been writing?
A long time. Even when I was little, I had always loved writing and drawing those stories that were just meant to be homework. Angsty journaling was pretty big for me, too. However, when I started writing fanfiction around age twelve, I became obsessed with writing and knew I wanted to do it for the rest of my life with my own stories and characters.
How long have you been working on this book?
I tried writing it in 2012, but it was still only a spark that needed more time to grow. Then in 2014, I picked it up again with more of the world and characters fleshed out in my mind, and wrote the first draft in around two months. After about eight months of editing, revising, and slightly excessive read-throughs, voila!
Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
Of course. With so many odds stacked against you in this business, I think it’s hard not to feel like giving up time and again. But I always took to heart that even the greatest authors faced these same frustrations and the most brutal rejections—yet that never stopped them. Also, just having the support of amazing friends and family always inspired me to keep going and stay on the path.
Is this your first book?
Nope, it’s my second! Along with the first novel I finished that didn’t make it during the querying stage, I also have a mountain of incomplete, abandoned projects.
Do you have any formal writing training?
My college major consisted of publishing, literature, and creative writing courses—but from my experience, reading a ton of books was really what helped me learn to write and find my own voice.
Do you follow a writing "routine" or schedule?
I really try to! It’s always important to keep a schedule and build that discipline when you’re in the midst of drafting or revisions. No matter how flexible I may be, I’d get absolutely nothing done if I didn’t instill at least some level of order in my writing life!
How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
I think I stopped counting after Draft 7, and then endured what seemed like an endless limbo of reading through/tweaking the manuscript until my eyes couldn’t take it any longer.
Did you have beta readers for your book?
Absolutely. My beta readers and CPs are seriously editorial angels from above. My manuscript—and my sanity—would be in complete shambles without them.
Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
I’ve always been more of a pantser, especially when it comes to the first draft. However, when I was knee-deep in revisions and really needed to take a look at my structure of events with this book, I surrendered to the outline.
How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
For this book, I queried for about three or four months.
About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
25.
On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
I read a lot of interviews and searched through MSWL (both the immensely helpful hashtag and website) like nobody’s business. These resources gave me glimpses of the agents’ personalities, the kinds of stories they were looking for, and what their agenting styles were. Any time I felt as if a person hit all three in my research, that agent went on my list.
Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
Yes, I always personalized my queries—either by quoting their MSWL, or writing down how much I'd enjoyed certain books they represented. Sometimes, even both. Giving that personal touch is a great way of showing the agent that you did your research and that you’re not just a query-sending robot.
What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Always write for yourself first before anything else. This business can be disheartening at times, but nothing is worse than losing your joy of writing in the midst of it. Keep that passion alive as best as you can, and keep your chin up. And also, put yourself out there—join a writers group, find more CPs, or go to a conference. Surround yourself with people who understand those difficulties and can relate to you. The writing journey can feel so lonely at times, but it doesn't have to be.
Would you be willing to share your query with us?
Of course!

Eighteen-year-old Sela is not your usual brothel girl from the island of night and vice. She keeps her bed empty and her pockets full with all that she steals from the clients she fools. But no one is more a fool than Sela, for thinking that hiding, thieving and drowning her sorrows in rum can mask her secret majic. But embracing bad habits has just always been her way of keeping safe in the Saints Circle.

Until now.

Within the curse-locked circle of islands terrorized by pirates and monstrous sea storms, the maje Queen Enara seeks out anyone with majic to join her ranks. Sela has done everything to avoid such a fate, laying low on the poorest island to hide her majic. That is, until a pirate attack throws Sela out of hiding and back into the arms of a man from her past—a reckless captain who knows her secret, and lures her away for one night of rebellion to weaken the queen’s forces.

But all it takes is one night to be noticed—to go from brothel girl to instant threat when engaging in maje warfare exposes powers within Sela she never realized she possessed.

Now taken into enemy court, Sela is tasked to summon powers she’s never wanted for a ruthless queen who only desires them for herself. With nowhere left to hide, Sela must free herself from her deadly new prison—even if that means confronting a terrifying majic inside that could unravel the very islands around her.

NIGHT ISLAND, complete at 93,000 words, is a YA fantasy where Shadow and Bone meets Pirates of the Caribbean within a dark circle of islands ruled by pirates, majic, and myths. Though this novel stands alone, it has series potential.