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An Interview with Thomas Torre upon receiving an offer of representation.

08/04/2013

Thomas Torre (GuruLord on QT) has signed with agent Dawn Frederick of Red Sofa Literary.

Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you’ve found representation? What inspired you to write it?
The idea for COPERNICUS NERDICUS came about pretty randomly. I had been talking with friends along with my wife about names for our future children. Someone mentioned Copernicus as a name, which I laughed off and said you might as well call the kid Copernicus Nerdicus. As for the story, once I had the name, it basically fell together. I drafted together a few ideas based upon battle-bots and video games, and it all started there.
How long have you been writing?
I remember writing stories at a very young age, and I still have the very first book I created when I was five years old in kindergarten. It was something about dinosaurs, and all of them I had managed to spell horrendously wrong. It's great for a laugh though. Since then, it's something I've always dabbled it in, whether it's with books, short stories, or even comics.
How long have you been working on this book?
I started the first draft in the fall of 2012, and finished approximately three months later. After a few beta reads and numerous edits, I had my first version of my polished MS ready at the end of August.
Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
There was one or two times where I really felt like shelving the project. Sometimes I would read through it and feel like it wasn't going the route I wanted. Thankfully, I had a huge support team of fellow writers and of course my wife that pushed me along, insisting that it was a great idea that I had to finish.
Is this your first book?
I had previously written an 85,000 word YA fantasy novel, but shelved it after realizing it needed way too much revising in terms of plot and pacing. Looking back, I think of that book as a test to see if I could really sit down and finish a book. But, I've made a promise to go back to it one day. The story is too cool to not finish the way it was meant to be.
Do you have any formal writing training?
Actually, not really. I am a graduate from the School of Visual Arts with a degree in Cartooning / Illustration (yes that was my major). But it taught me a lot in terms of storytelling since I also write comics. Aside from creative writing classes I had taken in college for comic book writing and novel writing, no. A lot of it just came from constant writing and research during my own free time. I guess I owe some of my writing training to my father who was an English teacher for thirty-five years. He really knew how to rail me when I made mistakes.
Do you follow a writing "routine" or schedule?
I always try to put aside at least one hour a day to write. And that's a minimum. Most days I find myself coming home from work and putting in few hours of writing. I'll give myself a day off here and there. No need to fry my brain completely!
How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
This novel has gone through numerous edits. Too many to count. There was one MAJOR re-write that I did in the last six months that I felt really took the book in the direction I wanted it to go. I have a feeling though, unless someone tells me to stop, I'll never stop editing it.
Did you have beta readers for your book?
I had three fantastic beta readers for my book, as well as my wife who was probably the most critical of them all. Not to mention all the additional help I received from fellow writers during the writing contests I was part of the last year. I can't stress how important is to have other people read your book and point out things that you would otherwise miss. After staring at your own MS for hours on end, you need a set of fresh eyes.
Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
I always start with an outline. I need to see if my book is headed in the right direction, and that the pacing is constant throughout. However, when I write my first draft, I just go at it nonstop and see what falls on the page.
How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
I sent my first query for COPERNICUS NERDICUS in August 2012. Surprisingly, the first query I sent out, also managed to get a full request. (That is NOT normal just to let you know, and had caused me to literally fall out of my computer chair.) Too bad the rest of the query journey wasn't that easy. It's been basically almost a year of on and off querying.
About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
I've sent out around 75 queries for this book.
On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
First I was pitching to agents that looked for middle-grade and/or young adult ideas. Then I started pulling back a bit, and only querying those who were looking for ideas that matched my MS based on agent research.
Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
I always tried to tailor the opening of the query to at least show that I've done a bit of research. Whether it was mentioning a twitter message, or web interview, I tried to explain why I thought they would be interested in my MS.
What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
First off, be sure to perfect that query until it hurts to even look at it. Then be sure to do your research on every agent you're going to query. I am guilty on numerous counts of sending out queries to those agents that I thought may have only a 50% chance of interest. If you do your research, you'll get much better results with requests. And remember, it only takes one to be interested in your book. Patience is key!
Would you be willing to share your query with us?
Of course!

Dear AGENT,

Thirteen-year-old gamer, Copernicus ‘Nic’ Wilhelm, has one chance to win fifty thousand dollars and prevent his dad from losing his laboratory to the devious inventor, Geoffrey Zorn--The Digital Zone video game tournament. But when Geoffrey Zorn unveils a new virtual gaming console called EVO to be used in the finals, Nic only has a week to master a futuristic robotic fighting game.

Easy enough for Nic, that is, until the game fights back.

When EVO transforms into a short-circuiting attack robot, the term video game realism takes on a completely new meaning. With the help of his friends, Nic re-programs the rampaging robot, but that wasn’t the only problem. EVO was also installed with a brainwashing microchip by the vile criminal organization, C.O.R.E (Coalition of Rogue Engineers) in order to kidnap tournament contestants, including Nic's best friend, and transform them into pilots for an army of kid-controlled robots straight out of the game.

With the police now controlled by C.O.R.E too, Nic and his friends must pummel their way through C.O.R.E troops using everything from stink bombs to slime cannons in order to rescue the contestants and discover proof of Zorn’s involvement in the mind control plot. Meanwhile, a fleet of robotic drones is preparing to invade Nic’s hometown of Twin Valley, and ultimately the world. Nic is in a race against time to put a stop to C.O.R.E and ensure the tournament goes on, before his gamer guile and new robot’s battery, runs out.

COPERNICUS NERDICUS is a 54,000 word middle-grade adventure novel. It targets readers who are gamers at heart by bringing to life video game elements while combining the hilarious adventures of Michael Buckley's NERDS series, with the robotic action packed pages of J.V. Kade's BOT WARS

As per your submission guidelines, I have included the requested material. Regardless of your decision, I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to consider my work.