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An Interview with Kalie Holford upon receiving an offer of representation.

03/01/2022

Kalie Holford (kalieholford on QT) has signed with agent Alex Rice of Creative Artists Agency.

Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you’ve found representation? What inspired you to write it?
The book is a YA contemporary coming-of-age about a girl who finds her late country star mother's diary and embarks on a scavenger hunt to find out more about her family and herself! I pitched it as a bi Mamma Mia for fans of Nina LaCour, and I wrote it in the early months of the pandemic when I needed an outlet for all the anxiety and fear.
How long have you been writing?
I've written picture books and short stories ever since grade school, and I started my first novel when I was eleven. I started querying for the first time and writing seriously at twelve, so that's been about seven years now.
How long have you been working on this book?
I've been working on this book since May of 2020.
Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
There were a lot of times I almost gave up, and there were a lot of rejections that hit really hard over the years. I'm so glad I didn't though; my friends and family kept me going and were there to talk about those feelings.
Is this your first book?
No, I've lost count of which one this is!
Do you have any formal writing training?
I'm currently pursuing an extended minor in Creative Writing, but before this no.
Do you follow a writing "routine" or schedule?
I don't really have a routine or schedule. I try to set goals for myself to finish larger revisions or new drafts, and I do my best to do things within that time. However, I don't really write at a set time or on set days. As a full-time student, writing for me tends to work best in the spare moments.
How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
I think this was the fourth or fifth draft, and it's now on the seventh!
Did you have beta readers for your book?
Yes, I did! I had a wonderful reader who read the very first draft and helped me so much, and I had so many writing friends/critique partners read and give thoughts and support this book and journey.
Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
I did outline, but it shifted a LOT as I wrote it. The ending in the outline didn't feel right once I neared that point, and it ended up going completely differently than I planned. Funnily enough, so far it's the only part of the book that's hardly changed once it was written. When revising, on the other hand, I had cue cards galore.
How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
I've been querying since I was twelve, so I queried for roughly six and a half years. I started querying this book in June of 2020 and signed with my agent in June of 2021.
About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
I think I sent out about 40 queries for this book.
On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
Having queried multiple books in the past, I tried to start with agents who had been kind about previous WIPs or said to keep them in mind. My now-agent was the kindest rejection I'd ever received on a prior book, so I queried her as soon as I felt the book was fully ready.
Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
I tailored the queries that I had found very specific MSWLs for and ones that were from requests to see future work or pitch contests. Otherwise, I just started with the story.
What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Please don't give up. I know that sounds pretty standard but it was what got me through the query trenches. Your story matters.