Let’s back-up to October 2007. I wasn’t in a good place in my life. At all. My 3-year relationship had come to an end, the day job wasn’t going so well and I’d moved house 3 times in 6 months. I was tired and ill and I hadn’t written in a couple of months. And then two of my online friends and I decided to do our own mini-version of the NaNo writing challenge, where we’d aim for writing 30,000 words in a month: 1,000 words a day, I thought, would surely be manageable.
And I just got sucked into the story and carried away by my own characters, something that had never truly happened to me before. As I wrote, one of my cats slept beside me every day, recovering from having a back leg amputated after an accident – we honestly didn’t know if he would make it through. Each day I laid down more and more words, and each day my cat looked brighter and his strange post-op behaviour became less disturbing. During that first month, I know it sounds stupid but I honestly believe we were healing together.
I ended up writing far more – and far more quickly – than I ever imagined I could, and THE IRON WITCH was complete in early December. I let it rest before revising and getting critiques and revising again. And then in January I began querying agents in the US – I knew that YA urban fantasy had more of a market over there and I was determined to find an audience for my work, and for this book in particular. I didn’t know if I was good enough to get an agent yet, but something told me I might be onto something with this project so I persevered through the rejections and close calls.
There were a lot of rejections, but there were also a lot of requests for my full manuscript. As my hopes grew, I revised again – and then again – and I waited and hoped some more. Then I began writing another book, something new to take my mind off the continual rollercoaster.
I’d first queried Miriam back in January – she was one of the very first agents I wanted thanks to her reputation as an advocate for urban fantasy. The fact that she represents some of the best authors in the genre (Lilith Saintcrow, Vicki Pettersson, and Rachel Vincent to name just few) certainly didn’t hurt. By March I still hadn’t heard anything, but another agent sent a very kind rejection with the magic words: “I think you should query Miriam Kriss. You can use my name as a referral.” Here was my opportunity to ‘status query’ whether or not my original email had been received, and just hours after I wrote to Miriam she replied requesting the full manuscript of THE IRON WITCH.
Three more months later – where there were yet more close calls with some wonderful agents – Miriam offered representation. I screamed the house down when I read the email requesting a phone conversation. I couldn’t believe it – honestly couldn’t believe that this thing I had wanted to do since I was 12 years old was coming just a little bit closer. I have so much to look forward to in terms of improving the manuscript before submissions to publishers, while getting on with my next projects. I am dedicated to becoming a better writer, supporting other writers, talking about urban fantasy and one day seeing my words in print.
Oh, and my cat – the one who is currently running around the garden on three legs – is doing absolutely fine.
Contest: Anyone who comments over here on My Favourite Books telling me what their favourite urban fantasy book is (either adult or YA), will have their name entered into a ‘hat’ and a winner selected at random will receive a copy of Lilith Saintcrow’s latest offering – the just-released NIGHT SHIFT, first in the Jill Kismet series. I’m reading it right now and it ROCKS! You have until the end of the day Wednesday 9th July to comment. I’ll ship to any country.Cheers, Karen.
To keep up to date with Karen and her writing, feel free to visit her over at her LJ site.