Sign In

An Interview with Suzette Saxton upon receiving an offer of representation.

Suzette Saxton (SuzetteSaxton on QT) has signed with agent Brendan Deneen of .

Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you’ve found representation? What inspired you to write it?
SECRET SISTERS is the story of a very ordinary girl who finds herself in extraordinary circumstances which lead her to question every aspect of who she believes she is. My inspiration for this story came from a newspaper article regarding a kidnapping; it made me think of a unique agnle I wanted to pursue.
How long have you been writing?
Six years. My sister Bethany Wiggins and I made a pact to finish a novel within a year. We each completed two! We went on to find agents within six weeks of each other.
How long have you been working on this book?
I wrote the first draft in 2005. Then I spent a lot of time critiquing the manuscripts of fellow writers, which gave me the experience I needed to go back and fix up my own story. I revised it about once a year until 2009 when it finally felt finished. At that point I knew it was ready to query.
Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
Absolutely! What kept me going was this wonderful, tight-knit group of writers I met on the QueryTracker forum. We went on to co-author the QueryTracker Blog, and we also critique each other’s books. Signing up for membership on has changed my life for the better in so many ways. (Thanks, Pat!)
Is this your first book?
No, it’s my third. I still have hopes of dusting off my second book because I love its premise so much. My first book died with my old computer – and good riddance! I now think of it as my “practice novel” because that is basically all it was good for. I’ve written a total of five novels, plus a bunch of chapter books and even a few picture books.
Do you have any formal writing training?
Nope, just a lifelong love of reading.
Do you follow a writing "routine" or schedule?
Now that my children are (almost!) all in school, I am finally able to have a routine I aspire toward. I blogged about it here.
How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
I revised about four or so times over the years, and then once more based on some intensive feedback from a very sweet agent friend of mine. I then completed a set of light revisions based on feedback from the agent I signed with.
Did you have beta readers for your book?
Of course! Many of them, including those in my target middle grade age range.
Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
I usually have a rough idea of where my book is going… but any time I try to make an outline the plot ends up deviating wildly.
How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
I queried my second book on and off for several months last year until I realized it needed to go back into the shop for a series of tune-ups. I queried only a handful of very specifically selected agents for this book starting in July. Then, every two weeks or so, I would send out queries in batches of ten.
About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
Sixty. And I ended up signing with the very first agent I queried!
On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
I crafted a list of my ultimate top ten favorite agents based on their tastes, reputations, sales, etc. Brendan Deneen was #1 on the list. I feel extremely lucky to have signed with my dream agent.
Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
Yes. I began my queries with something that let the agent know I’d taken time to research them. “I like the new look of your website” or “I’ve learned a lot from your blog.”
What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Blogging is important, and so is having your own website. You would be surprised by how many agents google you based on your query alone. So always strive to be your best self – especially online where it’s recorded forever.
Would you be willing to share your query with us?

Dear Agent,

[Something specific about the agent here.] I am seeking representation for SECRET SISTERS, my 39,000 word contemporary middle grade novel.

Eleven-year-old Hallie Finch never believed the late-night noises coming from behind her bedroom wall were cockroaches. Now she knows a girl named Senna is imprisoned in the motel room next door... but no one believes her. Especially not her workaholic, southern-fried Momma, who leaves Hallie alone every night to waitress at the Cha Cha Resort.

Before she can think of freeing Senna, Hallie must deal with her own crap:

A friendboy she wishes was a boyfriend.

A father who’s not her real father.

A chance at winning a million bucks on TV’s Talented America.

Then Hallie learns the motel in which she lives is scheduled for demolition tomorrow at dawn. With Senna still trapped inside it, Hallie must choose between winning the million, which would set things right with Momma, and saving her secret friend. But Senna has secrets of her own, secrets that Hallie might not be able to deal with.

I’m an author of the QueryTracker Blog for aspiring authors. My short story, The Bone Setter, appeared in Mindflights Magazine’s online e-zine and in their Issue 3 print anthology. If you would like to consider SECRET SISTERS, I’d be happy to forward the complete manuscript to you.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Suzette Saxton