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An Interview with Virginia E Hust upon receiving an offer of representation.

11/08/2016

Virginia E Hust (VEHust on QT) has signed with agent Lucy Cleland of Kneerim & Williams.

Can you tell us a little bit about the book for which you’ve found representation? What inspired you to write it?
Night Blooming is a Young adult retelling centering around Aladdin and 1001 Arabian Nights. As a child I loved when my mother would read Arabian nights to me. The complexity and really almost science fiction like elements in some of the stories made me wonder about the culture that could create something so beautiful and innovative hundreds of years before the first robot was invented. I also loved the female characters depicted in Arabian nights, they cast women in a different light from the Disney stories and traditional European fairy tales that we read.
How long have you been writing?
Um forever? I would write short stories and poems as a young child. My mother even has a poem I wrote in Pre-K. As for writing with the intent to publish? About Four years.
How long have you been working on this book?
About ten months. it was a frenzied first draft that ended with 100,000+words and happened over the course of five weeks. Then I edited for two months before taking it out to the query trenches.
Was there ever a time you felt like giving up, and what helped you to stay on course?
There were a lot of moments that I wanted to give up and I'm sure there are going to be more but my husband is super supportive and he's always able to pull me out of my funk. Also I love writing, so most of the time I know if I just keep at it I'm going to get better.
Is this your first book?
No, it's somewhere around my tenth but most of them will NEVER see the light of day.
Do you have any formal writing training?
I'm working on my creative writing degree so that's been a ton of help, other than college I've not taken any other classes, but that's really enough - trust me.
Do you follow a writing "routine" or schedule?
I do! I didn't used to and couldn't figure out why I wasn't getting anything done. Now I write every morning while my son sleeps and in the afternoon during his nap. I also take an hour before bed to do some editing.
How many times did you re-write/edit your book?
Uh, a lot? I think for rewrites it was only once really, because most of the plot stayed the same through the edits. But I edited so much in little bursts that what I ended with is almost unrecognizable.
Did you have beta readers for your book?
I did! Three of them in fact. One friend from college, a beta I met on a writing board and my husband. Weirdly I think my husband was the harshest, but he only reads fantasy and he's very picky, he made the book so much better.
Did you outline your book, or do you write from the hip?
I wrote this one from the hip which is so not like me and then I went back and did mounds of research and added in details, facts and fictions from the cultures and the original Arabian nights text.
How long have you been querying for this book? Other books?
This book about six or seven months, less if you don't count the time I took out to do a major re-haul of the plot. Over all about fifteen months as I tried to query a YA scifi before this one but I just didn't have the right voice for it.
About how many query letters did you send out for this book?
Too many? I'm kind of the person that freaks out and sends out bunches of queries to stave off depression. but I think like 130? like I said a lot. of that I got thirty-five full requests and seven offers of rep. Most of the queries that got rejected were from before the major rewrite and most of the requests were from after.

I took Lucy's offer because she was the person most excited about the Arabian Knights angle and Kamala in general.
On what criteria did you select the agents you queried?
I looked for people who were interested in YA and fantasy which as it turns out is a lot of them.
Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?
If I had something specific to say I did but otherwise I just made sue their name was spelled right.
What advice would you give other writers seeking agents?
Don't give up? Love your books but let other people be critics and really hear them. You need that devotion to your words but you also need dissent and somewhere in the middle you'll find what works for the story.
Would you be willing to share your query with us?
Yes! It's the third query I used for this book and it got a ton of interest.

Dear awesome agent of awesomeness,

I'd like to send you Night Blooming, a 76,000 word Young Adult Fantasy Retelling about Kamala, a Princess and inventor on a quest to save her kingdom from a sorceress who wants to use it's people in a horrific blood ritual. Mixing the fantastical fairy tale world with gritty politics and a not-always-so-nice heroine, Night Blooming is a retelling in the vein of Reign of Shadows and a Court of Thorns and Roses.

Seventeen-year-old Kamala’s a daughter of the desert, an ace mechanic and she's not bad behind the helm of a skyship. No one seems to think that matters though because she's a capital P Princess. Her country wants her to marry, and soon. Stuck between a rock and a kingdom, Kamala has to choose the least objectionable prince. Handsome and kind, Ali of Calcesh is heads and shoulders above the pack. Even if he’s actually a street rat named Aladdin

When her kingdom’s captured by a Red sorceress hell bent on using its inhabitants as sacrifices, Kamala has to run. With Aladdin’s help she escapes the palace on a kind-of-stolen skyship. But Aladdin drops the world out from under her feet. He’s a destruction sorcerer that was sent to help Kamala hone her powers. Powers she didn’t even know she had.

Hurdling into a world she barely knew was possible, Kamala’s faced with a hard truth, she’s the product of an illegal union between a Lunar and a Red. A battle’s raging inside her. The Red’s hot anger and Lunar’s emotionless chill swirl into a writhing pool of deadly power. With the clock ticking in JinJin and her conflicting powers pulling her apart, Kamala will have to push past the Red blood lust to save her subjects from becoming a disposable power source.