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An Interview with JA Souders upon receiving an offer of representation.

JA Souders (jsouders on QT) has signed with agent Natalie Lakosil of Bradford Literary 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 is titled Mirror Image and it’s a science fiction YA. It’s my take on forbidden romances. Only the reason it’s forbidden is because Lily (my heroine) is the only one who can see him, because he’s trapped on the other side of her looking glass. It’s sort of Alice in Wonderland meets Romeo and Juliet, with a little Phantom Of the Opera for good measure.
How long have you been writing?
Almost a year seriously, but I’ve been writing stories since I was six.
How long have you been working on this book?
It took a month to write, I set it aside for a week or two and then spent another week or two to edit, and almost a month to send it to betas, get it back and implement the changes. So, all together? 3 months.
Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
Yes, not when I was writing, but when I was querying. The first agent I sent it to was someone I thought was my dream agent and he requested the full almost instantly. A week later I got the letter saying he liked it, but not enough to offer representation. I was crushed. My husband and my writing friends helped me through it. My husband new me so well that he used reverse psychology. Then about two months later Natalie offered and I’d have to say I’m so glad the first agent turned me down. There’s no way he’d have understood the book or me the way she has.
Is this your first book?
Technically it’s my fifth, but three of those books were part of a YA paranormal series that was rubbish (I only queried the first book a few times, before I realized it wasn’t good enough and have since rewrote it completely.) and the fourth was an adult romance that I didn’t love enough to keep querying. Writing adult romances wasn’t for me. I wanted to write for teens, so I went back to my roots and came up with the idea for Mirror Image.
Do you have any formal writing training?
Other than high school English classes? No. :D
Do you follow a writing "routine" or schedule?
I sit at my computer everyday from 10 am to 6pm. If I’m writing then I’m plugging in words, otherwise I’m doing beta reads for other people, doing research for future projects, even judging contests.
How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
I never rewrote it. But I edited it 3 times before I sent it to my betas, and then twice more after I got all their notes. Then three more with Natalie, before we thought it was perfect.
Did you have beta readers for your book?
Yes. They’re invaluable. I don’t know how people manage without them. I usually have 1 that reads it as I’m writing, chapter by chapter, then another 2 or 3 after I finish my final edits, and then maybe 1 or 2 more after that if I need them.
Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
A little of both. I outlined the first and last chapters and then jotted down notes as I went to what I wanted to see, to keep me on track. Otherwise I let the characters tell me what they wanted to say.
How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
Mirror Image I queried for 2 ½ months, but I had queried for a total of 9 months with the other two books before MI got picked up.
About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
A total of 32 and I received 2 offers of representation, but I chose Natalie, because of her enthusiasm, and her vision for my book was exactly what I saw. Every change she’s ever suggested has been spot on and I don’t think there has been a time I’ve ever disagreed with them.
On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
They had to represent YA and it was preferable if they also repped science fiction/fantasy. I also wanted to have someone from a big agency and I stuck to mainly the ones that accepted e-queries. Natalie being the one exception, of course.
Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
Yes, if I could find information on them, then I personalized it. If not, I just made sure that the salutation had their correct name and kept it pretty generic.
What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
The biggest thing would be to “never give up, never surrender.” If writing is important to you, keep writing, keep querying. Attend workshops, conferences, writer meetings. Join writing associations such as the RWA, MWA, SFWA, HWA, or the SCBWI. Join on line sites such as querytracker.net and absolutewrite.com. Use editorandpreditors.com And don’t be afraid to be yourself.
Would you be willing to share your query with us?

Dear Natalie Fischer:

You'd think imagining a handsome stranger in your rearview mirror, crashing through a guardrail, careening into murky waters, and then being rescued by the same imaginary boy--who gives his name as Jackson--would be bad enough. But for seventeen-year-old Lily Baker, that’s just the start of her problems.

After coming home from the hospital, Jackson starts showing up in reflective surfaces — mirrors, puddles, windows, you name it. Lily, fearing others will think she’s crazy, keeps the visions to herself. After all, they’ll just go away if she ignores them, right? Not if Jackson has anything to say about it. And it isn’t long before he convinces her he’s real. The more time she spends staring into her mirror, the more she realizes she’s falling in love with a boy her family and friends insist is nothing more than shadows in her mirror and the hallucinations of her healing head injury.

MIRROR IMAGE is a science fiction romantic young adult novel, complete at 83,000 words. With a mix of Alice In Wonderland, The Phantom of the Opera, and Romeo & Juliet, this is a story of love that knows no bounds. Time, space, even the very fabric of reality cannot stop it.

I am a member of the RWA and CFRW.

Per your guidelines, I have enclosed a synopsis and the first 50 pages. Thank you for your generous time. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely,

Jessica Souders