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An Interview with Laura Tims upon receiving an offer of representation.

01/08/2013

Laura Tims (Laura_Tims on QT) has signed with agent Sarah Davies of Greenhouse Literary Agency.

Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you’ve found representation? What inspired you to write it?
YOU KILLED ADAM GORDON is a YA thriller about a girl named Joy who murders her sister's rapist and gets blackmailed by an anonymous somebody who saw her do it. This past summer, I decided I wanted to write something fast, dark, and different from what I'd written before, so I sat down in a cafe and didn't leave until it was dark and I had an idea I was enthusiastic about.
How long have you been writing?
The first (long) thing I wrote was a Neopets fanfiction in fourth grade. They put it on the website and I was pretty sure that meant I was famous. I've been trying to live up to that ever since.
How long have you been working on this book?
I got the idea in July, plotted it sometime in September, wrote the draft in October and revised for the first half of November.
Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
About every other five seconds I wondered if I could really pull it off. The writing community is the best thing for that. Writing is a scary world, and seeing everybody else holding on is inspirational. Also, if I gave up writing I have absolutely no idea what I would do with myself.
Is this your first book?
My second! My first was terrible, and I only sent out about four queries for it, because I noticed it was terrible. My second book was its opposite in almost every way. I've also written parts of drafts for other books.
Do you have any formal writing training?
I'm a Creative Writing major at Goucher College. The best training, though, is editing the work of your peers and getting your terrible first book out of the way, which you don't need a degree for.
Do you follow a writing "routine" or schedule?
Overall, I get the idea, let it sit, spend a day plotting the whole thing out and then write the draft in about a month. When I'm drafting, I write 2-3k on weekdays and 5-6k on weekend days.
How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
I did one round of revisions before I queried.
Did you have beta readers for your book?
Yes! I had four betas - one I found on AW, and three were from an awesome critique group I'm part of called the LitBitches. One of those has been my writing mentor since we both wrote giant Pokemon fanfictions as tweens (are you sensing a pattern in the fanfiction yet?) and she alpha-read a few chapters as well.
Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
Outline! I take a day, tape sheets of paper all over my wall and write down what happens in bullet-point format. If I don't, I get hopelessly lost halfway through the draft.
How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
I sent out my first query for this book on November 16th. I'd been planning on querying earlier, but I didn't want to add to the workload of agents recovering from Hurricane Sandy in New York. I ended up with six offers and had about twenty agents speed-reading the manuscript over the holidays, so I guess I added to their Christmas workload instead - my bad! Last year I sent only four queries out for my first book.
About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
76.
On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
One agent I queried because I'd worked with her in the past as an intern for her agency. For the majority of the rest, the writing mentor person I mentioned (hi Michelle!) had almost three years more experience in querying than I did, and she helped me pick them out.
Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
The only query I tailored was the one to the agent I'd already worked with. After reading queries as an intern, I didn't want to waste anyone's time by talking about myself when I knew it was the story they'd be interested in, if anything.
What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Keep an eye on what's selling. Don't write something you wouldn't enjoy writing, but if you have two ideas and you know one of them fits the market better, go with that one. You might be a die-hard fantasy writer (like I was) and fall totally in love with contemporaries after giving one a chance (like I did).
Would you be willing to share your query with us? (If willing, please include a sample of your query letter)
Of course!

Dear Agent,

Sixteen-year-old Joy killed Adam Gordon with two hundred milligrams of potassium cyanide.

Joy is sick with guilt, but Adam deserved it. He was homecoming king, lacrosse star, and the animal who raped Joy’s twin. When her sister faded into depression, Joy stalked Adam. Waiting. Hating. No one saw her slip the poison into his drink.

Except anonymous blackmailer Red. Red wants to expose the secrets behind the kind faces in Joy’s cozy hometown. Unless Joy obeys him, he’ll expose hers too. To avoid prison, Joy papers her school with photos of her principal in bed with a student and plants a businessman’s sex tape at a CEO meeting. She begins to share Red’s thirst for justice.

But the building truth torments her—Adam’s death didn’t fix her sister. She finds distraction, surprisingly, in Adam’s brother, who offers a ray of normality. Even Joy’s guilt can’t drown her attraction to him. He dulls the pain of being a killer.

Until Red orders her to tell him she killed his brother. Until Red frames her friend as the murderer. She races to unearth Red’s identity before he forces her to make an impossible choice: confess, or watch a classmate rot behind bars for her crime.

YOU KILLED ADAM GORDON is a YA/Thriller complete at 64,000 words. Thank you for your time.