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An Interview with Tierney Fowler upon receiving an offer of representation.

04/28/2013

Tierney Fowler (thatgirlyoulove on QT) has signed with agent Jennifer Mishler of Literary Counsel.

Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you’ve found representation? What inspired you to write it?
I started writing Lifestyles of the Rich and Infamous while in high school. I had always been fascinated by celebrity culture--specifically about our obsession with tabloids. You'd think that the people who seem to have it all--looks, money, fame--would have these perfect lives, but instead you watch starlets spiral downward before crashing spectacularly. I wanted to write a book that explored the effects a meteoric rise to fame could have on a girl's family, friends, and love life.
How long have you been writing?
I wrote my first book while in the first grade. It was an illustrated, sweeping saga about my adventures with Squanto the Indian (of Thanksgiving fame). Squanto and I did things like shoot guns, be chased by wolves, and run through the forest. After the accolades began rolling in (thanks, Mom!), I knew my career as an author was meant to be.
How long have you been working on this book?
So, I actually started writing this when I was fifteen. Now I'm in my mid-twenties. This book was finished in high school, then finished again in college, and then finished again last year. It was like every time I learned something new about writing, I had to rewrite the entire thing. I think most writers can agree--I don't think you ever sit back from your manuscript and say, "It is finished." You're always going to find things you want to fix. The trick is learning when you can sit back and say, "It's good enough."
Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
I had a pretty quick turnaround from when I started querying between signing with Jennifer. I've just recently realized how lucky I was to have such an easy querying process, so I'm definitely very thankful to have been spared a lot of the stress that comes with multiple rejections over years and years. For me, my "giving up" comes more with just getting older. I wrote a lot in college, but now that I work full-time, I don't have the same creative energy. You get to this place where you really want to write, but you just don't have the time. I'd stopped thinking about being a writer until one morning at brunch when my Dad quoted Sister Act 2 to me. I'll bungle the quote, but it basically was that if you wake up in the morning thinking about being a writer, then you should be a writer. I would fall asleep at night thinking about my characters and their stories, so I became a writer.
Is this your first book?
Yup! I now have a few other works in progress.
Do you have any formal writing training?
I graduated from George Mason University with a degree in English. I intended to teach elementary school after college, but ended up loving all my creative writing and fiction workshops way too much! GMU has an amazing MFA program, and as an undergrad, I was lucky enough to take some great classes with some of the best MFA professors.
Do you follow a writing "routine" or schedule?
No. I feel guilty all the time about it. I just recently started to use Twitter, and all my writer friends talk about how many words they've written each day. I'm just like..."I wrote 40k words in two days....three months ago." I have a hard time focusing enough to sit down and write consistently. It's more like the stories build up in my head until I get to the point where I have to go knock out half a book so that I can feel better. But, I know it's something I need to work on--especially now that I'm looking at two multiple book publishing deals!
Did you have beta readers for your book?
Sort of. Very early versions of Lifestyles was posted on FictionPress, where at one point I had literally 1000s of reviews. I didn't get a ton of grammatical or stylistic help there, but it helped me learn what regular people wanted to read. They would point out places where they'd wished this had happened instead, or where a character sounded fake.

In later versions, I had some writer friends read over the first few chapters before I started querying, but for the most part, I'm anal enough about editing that I handled it on my own.

Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
This specific book was written "from the hip", but that was because I knew the plot backwards and forwards from my zillion times rewriting it. Going forward, I outline all my books. I always know what I'm working towards, and it helps me keep moving on when I feel stuck at a hard scene.
How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
I started querying for Lifestyles in August of 2012. I accepted representation in November of 2012.
About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
About thirty. I sat down one weekend and just sent out a mass of emails.
On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
Like three of the agents I picked because they represented my favorite authors. The other 27? I picked...based off....their names. I know, I know. I'm basically the girl who fills out her March Madness bracket based off team colors. But, to my credit, I looked at the website of every agent to see if I liked them before actually querying them.
Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
I did! Before I queried each agent, I would Google their name. I'd read their bio and any reviews I could find. For the majority of agents, I kept it really professional, but when I could find personal information about them (favorite books, movies, etc), I'd try to work it into my letter. I told one agent my best Hugglepuff jokes, and while she still rejected me, I got more than a form rejection.
What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Do your homework. Yes, I had a frivolous way of initially picking their names, but then I did a lot of research on them. Some agents are incredibly specific in how they want the queries formatted or what information they need. Remember, you are not special. You don't get to break the rules and do whatever you want. I know it stinks to be so formulaic and formal, but it's what they want. The query letter that eventually got my contract was actually formatted way differently than my other queries...because that's how they asked for it. Yes, some people have these wacky queries that get a lot of attention, but 98% of agents want the information in a clear, concise way. Also, most agents are on Twitter, and they're always posting about their pet peeves. It's like free advice!
Would you be willing to share your query with us?

Dear Ms. Mishler,

I graduated with a degree in Creative Writing from George Mason University, and had multiple creative non-fiction pieces published in the campus magazine, newspaper, and website. In addition to being an aspiring actress, I currently write and curate a style blog, and recently shot a reality television pilot about shopping.

Lifestyles of the Rich and Infamous is a 73,000 word young adult novel which will appeal to fans of Cecily Von Ziegesar’s Gossip Girl series, Zoey Dean’s The A-List series, and Rachel Cohn’s Gingerbread.

Nicole “Nyx” Carrington loves two things in life: red lipstick and AJ Abbott—the hottest brooding bassist at Robinson High. Luckily for her, AJ’s back on the market, and his band is looking for a new singer. When Nyx finds herself both in the band and in his arms, she figures life can’t get any more perfect.

When a chance encounter with a record executive sends their band on a whirlwind trip to Manhattan, Nyx’s perfect life suddenly gets complicated. See, her absentee father turns out to be a pretty nice guy (for a billionaire), and her half-brother is Jeremy is daily tabloid fodder. Then there's Tristan Halifax, a totally gorgeous, totally arrogant model, who won't take no for an answer.

Nyx is quickly propelled into the limelight with her rags-to-riches story and drama filled love triangle. Sure, being famous has its perks, but juggling high school, friendships, and boyfriends is a lot harder when America is stalking her every move.

The first three chapters are attached. Thank you so much for your time and consideration.