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An Interview with Tracy E. Banghart upon receiving an offer of representation.

Tracy E. Banghart (trbanghart on QT) has signed with agent Wendy Schmalz of Wendy Schmalz Agency.

Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you’ve found representation? What inspired you to write it?
It's a young adult thriller with romantic and paranormal elements. I was inspired to write it by a cool, blustery night in September, when the wind smelled like fall and Halloween felt just around the corner. In that moment, I imagined a girl meeting a mysterious stranger in a graveyard at night while playing a youth group game - and that's where I started writing.
How long have you been writing?
Pretty much since I could, really. My first story was "The Dog, Cat and Bird" - I was five. I pursued a career in publishing so I could be in the industry (and actually get paid), but after a lay-off decided to pursue my real love - writing - full time.
How long have you been working on this book?
It was actually a NaNoWriMo novel...the idea came to me last September and I spent two months researching and thinking about the characters, then wrote the first draft in November. I took a few weeks off, then started revising, revising, revising.
Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
When I got my first partial rejection, I just about gave up. Not on writing, just on the book. I thought, "oh, it's never going to be good, I'll just start working on the next book" and then, after a day or two of wallowing, I read through the feedback from the agent again, and realized he'd given me a very valuable tool to use to make the book better. Just when I started substantially revising the first half of the book, I received a partial and my first full request. Which definitely kicked the revision into high gear!
Is this your first book?
It's the first book I've queried. I self-published a novella as part of my graduate thesis, and wrote a "practice novel" that I didn't pursue further.
Do you have any formal writing training?
In elementary and high school, I went to writing camp through John's Hopkins' CTY program. And I took lots of creative writing classes in college. That was about it. I do have a history in proofreading/editing though.
Do you follow a writing "routine" or schedule?
I really should, as I'm a terrible procrastinator! I have found that the nanowrimo model really works for me - I don't write everyday, but developing an idea and then scheduling four or five weeks to write intensively seems to work for me.
How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
A ton. I have at least 6 drafts on my computer, but those are just the major rewrites. I've done little stuff each day for probably the last two months.
Did you have beta readers for your book?
My husband and one of my good friends read it and cheered me on while I was writing it, and several friends read it when the second draft was complete.
Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
I didn't outline, but I took notes on each of the major characters, and I had an idea in mind of the climax when I began writing. I knew where I wanted to go.
How long have you been querying for this book?
I began querying this book in late January. I took a few weeks off in mid-Feb to revise the first few chapters, and then sent out more queries. I still haven't heard from about 20 agents, who I queried just before receiving my offer.
About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
About 60.
On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
I did a lot of research through querytracker, blogs, twitter, etc.
Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
If I could make a personal comment, I did. But I didn't force it. Many agents got a generic letter (personally addressed to them of course) because I couldn't find a whole lot of information about them.
What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Be professional. If you present yourself as a professional author, it's more likely you'll be treated as one. Follow submission guidelines, be polite, and do your homework. And don't forget that ultimately your agent will work for you. If you get an offer, be sure to take a few days to think about it, email the folks who are reading your fulls, give yourself the best chance possible to choose an agent you will get along with. There's a lot of trust involved in the agent-author relationship - you want to feel comfortable putting your work in your agent's hands.
Would you be willing to share your query with us?
Sorry - would love to, but it reveals the book's twist. ;-)