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An Interview with Leslie Nottingham upon receiving an offer of representation.


Leslie Nottingham (DecArts on QT) has signed with agent Kathleen Rushall of Andrea Brown 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 a YA Historical Mystery - I love historic fashion.
How long have you been writing?
Since forever. But really focused and finishing manuscripts for the last six years.
How long have you been working on this book?
A little longer than a year.
Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
Of course! Setting goals, even small ones. I got stuck on ALICE about a 1/3 of the way through, so I participated in NaNoWriMo and it gave me the kick I needed to finish.
Is this your first book?
No, my fourth and the third one I've queried to agents.
Do you have any formal writing training?
I took one writing class in undergrad, but besides that, no.
Do you follow a writing "routine" or schedule?
Not really. I write whenever I can and wherever I can, but I do make it a priority.
How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
Did you have beta readers for your book?
Nope. I'm working on changing that as I do think it's helpful.
Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
I'm half and half. I have a definite idea of where I'm going and what needs to happen, but I leave it loose enough to surprise me. Several characters which I hadn't planned on sprung up in ALICE and they're some of my favorites.
How long have you been querying for this book? Other books? About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
I sent out 11 queries over two and a half weeks. I ended up with 6 full requests, 1 partial, and 3 offers of representation. I accepted representation at just under a month of looking for an agent. No one was more surprised than me. Everyone was so wonderful, from the offers to the step asides to, yes, the rejections! It was a tough decision, but I'm thrilled to be working with Kathleen Rushall at Andrea Brown Literary.

My previous manuscripts took much longer. I sent out my first manuscript over a six month time span to around 80 agents, I had one full request and one partial. My second manuscript went out for four months to around 60 agents and I had three fulls and one partial.
On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
I started with trimming it down to agents who represented YA, then I looked closer for specific interest within YA. Did they like historical fiction? Then I looked through their lists, was ALICE a good fit? What was the agent's track record?
Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
Yes, I looked through to see if they represented an author I liked or if their list had a place for ALICE. I also read tons of interviews, searched twitter for what they were looking for, and, of course, #MSWL - which is how Kathleen ended up with ALICE. She tweeted she wanted a YA Historical.
What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Don't give up! Persistence pays off.
Would you be willing to share your query with us?

Dear (Agent’s Name),

Sixteen-year-old Alice Pinkerton is in to fashion, music, dancing . . . and murder. She can't help it, it's in her blood. She is, after all, the daughter of Allan Pinkerton, the world's most famous detective and head of the Pinkerton Agency.

Recently returned to Chicago from Mrs. Gibb’s Finishing School for Fine Young Ladies, Alice is determined to be everything a lady in 1871 should be. No more slipping Pinkerton case files under her shawl for a midnight read, no more eavesdropping on her Pa’s visitors, and certainly no more accusing her brothers' friends of forgery (even if she was right). She's focused on paying calls, pouring tea, and preparing for the society event of the season, the Palmer Ball.

When her best friend's maid asks her to look into the death of her sister, Alice steps aside and turns the request over to her brother who works with their father at Pinkerton Agency. The police quickly rule Maggie O'Dowd's death a suicide and her brother agrees. But when Alice sees the body with its bruised wrists and broken fingernails, she doubts if her brother or the police even bothered to look.

Haunted by the face of Maggie O'Dowd, a face that's so similar it's like looking in a mirror, Alice finds herself drawn back to her old habits. Her best friend begs her to leave it alone. Her family would disown her if they found out. Her place in society would be lost if she were caught. But can she let a killer go free? With the Palmer Ball right around the corner and a murderer on the loose, not everything in Chicago society is what it seems.

ALICE PINKERTON is a YA Historical Mystery and is complete at 82,000 words. ALICE is best described as a 19th century Veronica Mars/Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries and would appeal to readers who enjoyed A Tyranny of Petticoats edited by Jessica Spotswood.

(Personalize here)

Kind regards,

Leslie Nottingham