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An Interview with Julie Murphy upon receiving an offer of representation.

04/10/2012

Julie Murphy (andimjulie on QT) has signed with agent Molly Jaffa of Folio Literary Management.

Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you’ve found representation? What inspired you to write it?
Sure, here's my elevator pitch: When sixteen-year-old former ballerina, Alice, learned she was terminally ill she made a list of= things to do and people to ruin–– all her scores were settled, until she went into remission.

My inspiration for this book really came from the idea of consequences, and the things we might do or say if we didn't have to live with them.

How long have you been writing?
I've always written, but I began to seriously pursue writing as a career last year.
How long have you been working on this book?
I usually write a first draft in a couple weeks and this was actually my NaNoWriMo manuscript. So, from first draft to signing-- four months.
Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
Yes! For me, it was the rejections on my first manuscript, which I received just after completing my second manuscript. It wasn't that I was done with writing, but I think I was done with other people reading my writing-- at least for a little while. What helped me stay the course? My second manuscript. I revised the heck out of it and fell in love with it, so much so, that I couldn't keep it to myself. So, I guess, I never really gave up on writing, but I definitely came to a stopping point with my first manuscript where I knew I was done querying.
Is this your first book?
No, this is my second.
Do you have any formal writing training?
Not beyond the run of the mill college creative writing classes! My major was political science.
Do you follow a writing "routine" or schedule?
Not really. Any waking moment that's not spent at work or with family and friends is usually spent either reading or writing.
How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
I did three rounds of revisions.
Did you have beta readers for your book?
Yes, I'm a huge fan of betas! I had two critique partners and three betas.
Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
I don't do a formal outline, but I usually have a vague idea of where I'm headed.
How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
I queried this book for two-three weeks before my first offer and I queried my first book for four months.
About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
Twenty-three queries. I also participated in some great blog contests like Operation Awesome, MSFV, and Cupid's Literary Connection. In all I received seventeen requests. Some stepped back when I received my first offer, and some just plain old passed. In the end, I had seven offers.
On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
Well I write YA, so that was first and foremost. I looked for newer agents from very reputable agencies. And, from there, I read as many interviews as I could and narrowed my list based on specific tastes.
Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
I did, in that I personally addressed each query. Some queries I did further personalize, mentioning invitations to resubmit or something that really struck me in a particular interview. But, if I didn't have anything to personalize, I didn't bother faking it. For me, saying something that wasn't genuinely personalized felt contrived.
What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Perfect your query! Research every agent, know that you're what they're looking for before you even entertain the thought of querying them. And know when it's time to go back to the drawing board and
revise. But, most of all-- READ. Know the market and where you fit. I think really strong, well-informed comparisons can make or break a query.
Would you be willing to share your query with us?
I would love to! We are in the process of changing the title, so I have pulled my previous title.

Dear Ms. Jaffa:

I hope that I can interest you in my contemporary young adult novel, (TITLE).

When fifteen-year-old former ballerina, Alice, is diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia her prognosis is grim, at best. So, Alice makes a list of things to do and people to ruin. After manipulating her kind-hearted best friend, Harvey, into helping her, Alice sabotages the school play, humiliates her ex-boyfriend, and rescues a tiny terror of a Pomeranian. Together, Alice and Harvey explore the highs and lows of their ever-changing, and at times toxic, lifelong relationship as well as the grey area between just friends and more than friends.

All of Alice’s scores are settled— until she goes into remission. Now, a year later, Alice must face the legacy she left behind and live in the shadow of all that she’s said and done, including her true feelings for Harvey.

Told at different intervals, and from the perspectives of both Alice and Harvey, (TITLE) chronicles what happens when Alice says her final words, only to find that life isn’t through with her yet. With a full cast of multidimensional characters and a weaving plot, (TITLE) will interest readers of Jenny Han’s SUMMER series and fans of the motion picture MEAN GIRLS and is complete at 63,000 words.

While I am not yet published, I am an avid reader of young adult fiction. After completing my bachelors in political science, I passed on law school in favor of a position as a youth services coordinator for a public library. Raised in a theater community and with a few creative writing classes under my belt, I am well versed in both character building and plot progression.

While this is one of my first submissions, I do want to let you know that I plan on submitting to several other agencies in the coming weeks. I would love to send you a partial or complete manuscript of (TITLE) for your consideration.

Thank you for your time.

Best,

Julie Murphy