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An Interview with Sean Easley upon receiving an offer of representation.


Sean Easley (seaneasley on QT) has signed with agent Erin Young of Dystel Goderich & Bourret LLC.

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 a MG fantasy about a boy who joins the staff of a magic hotel—whose doors usher its guests all over the world—in search of the dad he never met.

This book was your classic, “I had a crazy dream” story. I dreamed my wife and I moved into this hotel that was a mishmash of places all over the world, and I combined it with a dream I had years ago about a creepy man who owned a mansion, and all of the sudden it started coming together.

How long have you been writing?
Since third grade, but I started seeking publication in earnest about 4 years ago. I queried two manuscripts before the one that got me representation.
How long have you been working on this book?
From inception to query was about seven months. From agent offer to purchase by S&S was another year.
Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
I’ve heard it said that perseverance is one of the most important qualities in the publishing business, so when I decided this was something I was good at and something I wanted, I wouldn’t let myself give up. As writers, we’re always improving. The only reason I’d give up is if I wasn’t improving.
Is this your first book?
This is the third book I sought publication on, but probably my sixth overall.
Do you have any formal writing training?
I studied composition some in my undergraduate training.
Do you follow a writing "routine" or schedule?
My wife works a 9-5, and I am now able to write 9-5 as well. I find the most important tactic for succeeding in this job is consistency, so I’d recommend that anyone who takes publishing seriously jump in to being as consistent as they can be.
How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
Too many to count, honestly. When I start a book, I word vomit around 100k words and then set myself to the task of rewriting those words over and over again. It’s a mess.
Did you have beta readers for your book?
Yes! My advance readers were so helpful. I actually partnered with a MG librarian friend to have a group of kids in my target demographic read and offer feedback, which was so helpful.
Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
I like to think I outline from the hip. My first draft is nothing like what my final will be. I tend to scribble out a messy first draft the way some people outline, and then use that draft as the framework for what will be a more fleshed-out, decent copy.
How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
My query time for this book was very short, but it was at the end of about a year and a half of querying other books. My time querying those other two books played into my success this time in a big way (the agent who took me on had read another of my manuscripts, which I’m sure helped).
About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
15, but then again, I’d sent out hundreds of queries for other books previously.
On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
I looked at what they were looking for, and only sent queries to those I really thought would enjoy the book.
Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
I only tailored to agents I had previously met or who had looked at previous manuscripts. I once had an agent tell me that “tailoring queries” really meant just sending it to agents who are looking for your kind of book, and that there’s not a lot of “I read you are interested in…” needed. In fact, I know some actively dislike that kind of tailoring.
What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Send your absolute best. Don’t just send when you think it’s good enough. Send when it’s as close to perfect as you can possibly get it. And be willing to change any and everything to make it the best it can be.
Would you be willing to share your query with us?

HALF-WAY HOTEL is a contemporary MG fantasy adventure along the lines of SPIRITED AWAY meets THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL, by way of THE BOUNDLESS.

Twelve-year-old Dáo’s Chinese name means luck, upside-down. It’s a curse that has ruined everything for him and his wheelchair-bound sister, starting from the moment they were born, when their world-traveling dad mysteriously vanished. But when a slick-haired boy shows up in a suit and coattails talking about a magical hotel with doors that lead all over the world, Dáo sees his chance to find out where his dad went and bring him home.

Once inside, Dáo makes a deal with the Hotel’s creepy concierge to join the staff, and soon finds himself facing off against militant maids and sabotage from the Hotel’s enemies. As he builds alliances with the Hotel’s international staff, he uncovers a people-stealing plot far more sinister and threatening than anything his bad luck has brought before. Dáo’s willing to pay any price to find his father, but when his bargains put those he cares about in danger, including his sister, he must fix his mistakes or risk losing his family for good.

HALF-WAY HOTEL is complete at 77,000 words. I served thirteen years as a teen pastor and counselor, am a member of DFW Writer’s Workshop and the Writer’s League of Texas, and speak regularly at local school libraries.