Monday, March 30, 2015

Querying Author Interview: Rachel Stevenson

Happy Monday, all! Today's querying author is:

Rachel Stevenson

Twitter: @whatshewrote

How long have you been writing?
Ever since I could write, I wrote in chapter form. I started with crayons in composition books and on stapled construction paper, and finished my first "full-length" chapter book at around age 8. It was about the Winter Olympics and was around 10k words long. I still have it :D

What inspired the project you’re currently querying?
I actually don't know. I had a picture in my head of an angry girl loaded down with katanas and a sad past, walking wilderness with a sibling. This picture eventually blossomed into the complex YA historical fantasy The Red and the Scarlet is now, set in 1811 on a fictional continent. But different elements of the story were inspired by historical events such as the Comet of 1811, the Luddite Revolt, the Battle of Borodino, the recent Japan tsunami, the Trail of Tears... just to name a few things.

What’s your elevator pitch for the project you’re currently querying?
I'm trying to polish it more, but currently it is this: 
Les Mis meets Mulan: In 1811, 18-year-old mercenary Fyr seeks revenge on a controversial politician. If he arrests her, or steals her heart, her desperate warnings of supernatural invasion will be silenced, and the last of her people will vanish.

What are you working on in the meantime to keep yourself from checking your email every three seconds?
Well, I used to be really bad about email checking, but that was when I was querying a different project. Now that I've shifted my focus, I've gotten a little less antsy, but I'm working on three different WIPs at once, and they are all rather attention demanding :D

What are three books that have shaped you as a writer?
Can I name five? :D War and Peace, 100 Cupboards, The Dark is Rising, Johnny Tremain, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

Are you a plotter or a pantser or an all-of-the-above-er? What is your writing process?
Plotter, totally. But a flexible plotter. I come up with an idea, I write down the characters (having fully-developed characters is very important to me), I jot down a series of plot sequence ideas, and later a synopsis.  I always limit the amount of WIPs I work on at one time, and even then I focus on one in particular. I handwrite the first draft, type the second, and then edit that document to bits until I am satisfied :D And all along, I draw concept art and act out some of the scenes.

What advice would you give to a writer about to take the plunge into querying?
1. Expect rejection, but remember it's a subjective business. I was rejected once simply because my book was in 3rd instead of 1st person! 
2. Do. Your. Research. It will save you and the agent a lot of time and trouble. 
3. Keep your rejection letters. They make good motivation and will help you keep track of who to query next!

How do you take your caffeine?
I actually don't, LOL. Caffeine and I do not mix. But I do enjoy decaf lattes, Earl Grey tea, and chocolate milk.

Thanks so much for taking part, Rachel! Best of luck with The Red and the Scarlet—it sounds amazing!

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