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An Interview with Kayla Zimmer upon receiving an offer of representation.

08/07/2017

Kayla Zimmer (kmjones on QT) has signed with agent Louise Fury of The Bent Agency.

Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you’ve found representation? What inspired you to write it?
SABLE follows the journey of Avalon Edenstone, an eighteen-year-old mortal princess who sets out to break a curse and free a Fey warrior who might be more than she seems. There's magic, romance, castles, hot fairy dudes, skin-changers, and blood-thirsty creatures!
How long have you been writing?
I started writing seriously about four years ago, but I was making up stories long before that. A few months ago I actually found old diary entries from when I was ten/eleven years old, and even back then I was writing. True story: my ten-year-old self apparently had big plans to write a story about faeries! *chortles*
How long have you been working on this book?
This novel took me about five months to write, and when I first got the idea, it refused to leave me alone. I take pride in finishing everything I start (even if it’s just a first draft and not a polished final copy), so I decided to put SABLE on the back burner until the other projects I was working on were complete. But the characters and the world they live in kept nudging their way into my mind until I dropped everything to work on it. When an idea knocks, I just have to answer!
Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
There were times when I was worried that my work wasn't good enough, that I might never find an agent, that the stories I was telling weren't worth reading. I basically had to learn to believe in myself and my writing, and I asked myself how badly I wanted to be an author, and how hard I was willing to work in order to make that dream come true. I am so glad that I didn't give up. I wouldn't be where I am today if I had listened to that negative voice. The best thing you can do is believe in yourself, even when no one else does. It might take years, like it did for me, but one day you'll find someone who believes in your work as much as you do.
Is this your first book?
No. I have several other novels I've been working on for the past few years, and all are at different stages in the writing process. SABLE was a "magic" book for me. The first draft quite literally poured out of me, and I always knew where the story would go next. I sometimes have to fight tooth and nail to get words onto the page, but every time I sat down to write SABLE I was pleasantly surprised by how little I had to work for each sentence. The characters basically strolled onto the page fully-formed and refused to leave until their story was complete!
Do you have any formal writing training?
Nope! Pretty much everything I've learned about writing was self-taught, and I have other books to thank for that. I read anything I can get my hands on -- and I don't just read for entertainment. I study sentence structure, use of plot twists, how to build suspense, etc.
Do you follow a writing "routine" or schedule?
I try to, but it can be hard. When I'm in the drafting stage, I aim to write at least 1,000 words a day, and if I'm revising, my goal is to complete at least one chapter.
How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
I tend to edit as I write, so it would be impossible for me to tell how many times I edited this book. As for re-writes...until recently, I didn't really do any major re-writes for this one. I rewrote certain parts of it, but not many.
Did you have beta readers for your book?
Not for this one.
Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
I'm definitely a pantser. To be honest, I really, really don't like outlining. But when I set out to write a book I need to at least know the ending and the major plot points that need to happen in order for me to get from point A to point B. I don't believe in knowing every little thing that will happen -- there has to be some surprise for me as the writer so that the story stays exciting and I don't lose interest.
How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
I queried between the months of November 2016 and January 2017. I started working on other projects after this time, and I received an offer of representation in April 2017.
About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
Just over 30.
On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
First and foremost, I carefully read each agent's submission guidelines, making sure they represented YA fantasy (and that they were also looking to represent more titles that fell into this genre). I made use of QT nearly every day, and I checked individual and agency sales records. I also found out more about them by reading online interviews/blogs/Twitter.
Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
I tried to, yes.
What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Don't give up! It's easy to get discouraged when you receive rejections, but just keep going. If your current novel doesn't land you an agent, then write another one (and another). With everything you write, you will only get better. Don't listen to anyone who tells you that writing is a waste of time -- if writing makes you happy, then it is a darn good use of your time. Also: read anything you can get your hands on. There is no better way to learn how to write a book than by reading other ones.