Sign In

An Interview with Pat Esden upon receiving an offer of representation.


Pat Esden (Shadowqueen on QT) has signed with agent Pooja Menon of Kimberley Cameron & Associates.

Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you’ve found representation? What inspired you to write it?
Johnny Depp and our shared love for the old TV series Dark Shadows inspired me to write my story. When I heard he was working with Tim Burton on a remake of the show, it struck me that having fun and creating something you’ve always wanted to try was important to me as well. However, I didn’t have the desire to create a campy remake of Dark Shadows. I wanted to write a gothic novel which had an atmosphere reminiscent of the show and also to the romantic suspense novels from the same time period—but with an updated flare and sizzle to make it appealing to the modern teen reader.
How long have you been writing?
I didn’t start writing with the intention of being published until 2004. I began by writing short stories, then moved on to novel length.
How long have you been working on this book?
The idea came to me in April of 2011. I began writing it in late November, finished the first draft on March 4th, 2012 and began querying in August.
Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
I never felt like giving up. However, I queried five manuscripts before MOONHILL and after recieving tons of ‘good’ rejections, I was definitely feeling frustrated.

After querying MOONHILL for about two months, I had requested material out with eight agents. I expected a long wait, so I decided to enter some contests not only to approach new agents but also to keep my mind occupied.

Do you have any formal writing training?
I attended an online creative writing class for several years, took other shorter-term online writing classes and attended Orson Scott Card’s Boot Camp.
Do you follow a writing "routine" or schedule?
I write for several hours each night--some nights I’m productive, others not so much. As long as I keep moving forward, I’m happy. I’m a slow and steady kind of writer.
How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
I did six revisions before querying and there will be at least one more before MOONHILL goes out on submission.
Did you have beta readers for your book?
I have a small herd of critique partners and readers. Hmmm . . . I’m guessing a little, but I had three people who read the entire story between different rounds of revision and probably another four who read the first fifty pages at various stages.
Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
I used a cork board and index cards to create a flexible outline.
On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
I queried agents who had requested from me in the past. And agents those who represented YA fantasy and stated they liked gothic stories.
Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
In the past, I’d spent a lot of time figuring out how to tailor queries. This time, I didn’t go into my reason in any depth.
What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Know what kind of agent and agency you’re looking for. Do you want a hands-on agent or not? Are you looking for a career or to sell a single book? And watch for new agents at topnotch agencies. They truly are golden opportunities. And enter contests.
Would you be willing to share your query with us?
The agent I signed with never saw my query. She picked me out of the Hook, Line and Sinker contest after seeing a fifty-nine word pitch, a sentence from further into the novel and the first 250 words. In less than twenty-four hours, I went from request to an offer of representation via email.

Here’s the query which netted me requests from ten other agents:

Seventeen-year-old Anie Freemont never believed the stories her papa told about their ancestral home, Moonhill. Mystical rings which eat souls, genies in jars . . . she figured the frightening tales were simply another of her antique dealing Papa’s eccentricities. That is, until Papa’s diagnosed with dementia and she’s forced to take him back to Moonhill and the estranged family they’d fled when she was three-years-old.

All Anie wants is to help Papa get better, so they can leave as fast as possible. But from the moment they arrive, she’s isolated from him. She notices disturbing things too, including human-shaped shadows in Moonhill’s gallery and a witch’s pentagram under her bed. When Papa turns violent and she discovers he’s not seeing a doctor, Anie begins to suspect the root of his illness lies with the decade old mystery surrounding her mother’s death in Moonhill’s graveyard.

But to separate truth from tale, Anie will have to use every devious skill she learned while picking and selling antiques with Papa to outwit an evil that’s closer to her heart and more powerful than she imagines—and a family who prefer to keep her in the dark.

Complete at 70,000-words, MOONHILL is a YA gothic with an atmosphere reminiscent of classics by Phyllis Whitney, Mary Stewart and Victoria Holt, and will appeal to readers who enjoyed the con artist main character in Holly Black’s WHITE CAT.