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An Interview with Sandra Proudman upon receiving an offer of representation.

12/15/2018

Sandra Proudman (sproudman on QT) has signed with agent Hannah Fergesen of KT Literary.

Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you’ve found representation? What inspired you to write it?
GHOSTS OF THE VOID tells the story of 18-year-old Suzanna, who, against all odds, has to fulfill a dangerous gig inside of virtual reality world in order to save her sister who has been kidnapped.

I love science fiction, especially SF set in the future, which GHOSTS is, so I think I just wanted to write a story that combined everything I love about SF.

How long have you been writing?
I have been writing with the goal of publication since 2011.
How long have you been working on this book?
It's hard to give an exact number because it's gone through two complete rewrites so far! So it feels like a much longer time than what it comes down to in months. I would say a little over a year between all the rewrites.
Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
Of course! I'm not an overnight success story. I've been writing since 2011, querying since I think maybe 2013 or 2014. So there have definitely been times where I wondered if it made sense to continue. Progressively hearing more and more back from agents definitely helped motivate me. As well as a desire to have more Latinx books out in the world for young readers and my inability to stop writing.
Is this your first book?
GHOSTS OF THE VOID is my fourth book!
Do you have any formal writing training?
I minored in creative writing, but I wouldn't say I have a ton of formal writing training. I learned a lot by listening to audiobooks and reading a ton. I also listen to podcasts on craft.
Do you follow a writing "routine" or schedule?
I write whenever I can. I have a full-time job, too, so I sneak in writing time in the morning or at lunch or after work and on the weekends. When I'm drafting, I usually write 1,000 words a day.
How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
This book has gone through two major re-writes. Several rounds of editing. And I'm working on revisions before going on the submission.
Did you have beta readers for your book?
Definitely! My manuscript wouldn't be what it is without them. I so appreciate their help! I love my CPs!
Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
I am a total pantser! I would say, though, I think about my book a lot and problem solve before hitting the keyboard.
How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
I queried my first book for about 2 years. My second for about 1. I never really officially queried my third, which I was still revising when I started querying GHOSTS OF THE VOID, which I'd say I've been querying for a little under a year on and off.
About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
I queried 33 agents as a whole with this manuscript (though half with the prior version).
On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
It was a mix of querying agents who liked my pitch during Twitter contests and agents I admired (as long as they represented YA SF), as well as agents who I had queried before and had encouraged me to submit to them again.
Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
I did for some and for others I didn't. My rule of thumb was not to force a tidbit about why I was querying an agent if there really wasn't anything major to say or it just sounded forced. But for agents that had read a full of mine before, I made sure to add that in. For agents I admired for a very specific reason (like supporting Latinx authors), I made sure to let them know.
What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Do not give up! Always be writing a new manuscript! Be nice! I got my agent really by forming an ongoing querying relationship off of an R&R. A no on one project doesn't mean a no on all of your future work most of the time.
Would you be willing to share your query with us?
Sure! Please find it pasted below!

Dear Hannah,

I am excited to share with you my R&R for GHOSTS OF THE VOID, a sci-fi YA that is now complete at 75k words.

In the year 3023, a virtual reality world known as the Void has been in lock-down mode for a thousand years. Unbeknownst to the millions of Residents trapped inside, they repeat the year 2023 in an eternal loop. Without a safe way to disconnect them from the Void, Residents have been placed in cryosleep chambers by the U.S. government. Only a handful of hackers can enter the Void and come back. The most famous of these, the Ghosts of the Void, are savvy enough to make a profit by doing odd-jobs inside for those interested in exploiting the virtual past.

18-year-old Suzanna Jiménez, the leader of the Ghosts, escapes the real world by spending more time within the Void than outside of it. She is known for a being a ruthless leader, who values the lives of her crew above all else.

However, when she discovers that her sister, who has been missing for months, is now being held hostage by Harold Valentine, the same man who killed their parents, her loyalty to the Ghosts is put to the test. She is blackmailed by a government representative to help shut down the Void. A job that upon fulfillment comes with the safe return of her sister—and a one-billion-dollar payday. Enough money to get them both out of harm’s way. Now, Suzanna must decide if getting her sister back is worth risking the lives of her crew; if she’s really going to kidnap the daughter of the Void’s creator to get the job done; and if she and her team are good enough to hack through the virtual world before getting wiped out by its deadly security protocols.

If the Ghosts manage to pull off their hardest job to date, they’ll succeed in freeing the millions of people stuck inside of the Void. Or they may destroy the home and family they’ve created in 3023.

GHOSTS OF THE VOID is the first part in a planned duology. It is told through an #OwnVoices, Latinx POV. And will appeal to readers of Want, Warcross, and The Children of Eden—fans of futuristic tales, complicated love stories, and virtual reality.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Sandra Proudman