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An Interview with Michelle Fogle upon receiving an offer of representation.

Michelle Fogle (Barnowl on QT) has signed with agent Marlene Stringer of Stringer Literary 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 historical fiction set in 15th century Spain against the backdrop of the Inquisition. I’ve always been fascinated with what it would be like to live in another time. I was particularly interested in exploring how young people discover an internal moral compass; when institutions fail us and those we turn to for moral guidance are corrupt.
How long have you been writing?
Since childhood, really. As a career aspiration, during 8th grade.
How long have you been working on this book?
I did the first draft many years ago and left it on a shelf. In earnest, about two years.
Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
There were many times I lost momentum. Getting rejections is really hard, especially since you have to endure lots of them. What kept me going was: firstly, having other writers point out the strengths of the work. It’s really important to have a writer’s group for support. Secondly, I believe the story needs to be told. There are few other novels like it.
Is this your first book?
Do you have any formal writing training?
Yes. I’ve taken lots of workshops and seminars; not all of them helpful.
Do you follow a writing "routine" or schedule?
I try to write every day. I’m fairly obsessive about what I’m working on, so when I’m not pressing pen to paper or editing on the computer, I’m researching.
How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
Three drafts. Some sections 5-6 times.
Did you have beta readers for your book?
Yes. I ran most chapters through my read and critique group.
Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
I used index cards in storyboard fashion for plot structure. But it ends up looking different as I flesh out the characters and scenes.
How long have you been querying for this book?
Three months.
About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
Around 20 in batches of five.
On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
I wanted someone who represents historical fiction. I researched their preferences.
Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
A little. I had a general letter, but then I visited their websites and tried to cast my letter to appeal to what they stated they were looking for.
What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
If you have a good story and you’re good at your craft, you’ll find someone. Don’t give up. Be mentally tough; prepared to take a lot of rejections.