So let's welcome Dahlia Adler and Andrea Somberg!!! *cues everyone to throw their heart-shaped confetti* (Cause, you know, we love them!)
Once again, they were both sweet enough to take the time for an interview, so YES, we get to hear from both author and agent! I love this! Okay, here we go....
Let's start with Dahlia! Then stalk her on Twitter, her blog, and of course, go read her awesome entry for BEHIND THE SCENES from "The Writers Voice"!
C: First things first, what is your sweet of choice?
D: What isn't my sweet of choice? I probably crave Gushers more than any other one specific candy, but I'm a chocolate girl, a chips girl, an ice cream girl... if it has sugar, you can't really go wrong.
C: How long have you been writing?
D: I think I started when I was about eight, so that makes... oh God, twenty years.
C: How long did it take you to write BEHIND THE SCENES?
D: BEHIND THE SCENES was a NaNoWriMo book so the first 50k took me the month of November, and I'd say the whole first draft was done in about 6-7 weeks. I revised on and off for months after that, right up until The Writer's Voice contest.
C: How many did you query with this novel?
D: BEHIND THE SCENES was actually brand-spanking-new for the contest, so I hadn't done any querying prior to entering. As a result of the contest, I got to send two partials, and on top of that I think I sent out maybe five queries.
C: What made you decide to enter the contest?
D: I'd done a lot of revisions to BTS after some extensive comments from a beta and after that, I really stepped away from it for a while. Then I saw mention of the contest on Twitter and thought "That! That is going to be the kick in my butt to finish this thing once and for all!" So it was a combination of incentive to finish and, of course, wanting some expert advice. Query writing is not a skill I pride myself on.
C: What is your favorite part of the writing process?
D: I love that time when a book is first coming together in your head, and you just have this obsessive need to write down idea after idea as they come into your head, whether it's the perfect name for a character or a way you're going to tie two scenes together. I love anything that indulges my obsessive nature. My desk at home is covered in post-its and notebooks with ideas scrawled all over them. I think I was in bed at 3 AM when the query for BTS came to me. I crawled out of bed, typed it out on an iPad, e-mailed it to myself, and went to sleep.
C: What is your least favorite part of the writing process?
D: I'm not great at writing those scenes that need to be there but aren't fun, per se. I don't let myself write out of order anymore because I can't trust myself to fill in the gaps. When you're writing forward, you kind of know that if you really don't want to write the next scene, there's probably something wrong with that scene, but when you're skipping around, it's more like, "Well, I already got to write the kiss, so why would I want to deal with the stupid tension that was keeping them apart??" I have to practice responsible writing with myself, and it kills me when there's a scene in the future I'm absolutely dying to write.
C: If you could only pick up three things from the grocery store, what would they be?
D: Cap'n Crunch, milk, and Ben & Jerry's Coffee Heath Bar Crunch
C: What advice do you have for other writers?
D: The most important advice I hammer into my own head now is "Always write forward." It was a great lesson from NaNoWriMo. If you stop to revise every time something's not perfect, you're never going to get anywhere. Just write forward, let yourself write a flawed first draft, maybe scribble down some notes on what you want to make sure to fix, and don't make those corrections until your first draft is done.
C: What did you do to celebrate your offer?
D: I suffer from "Wait, did that really happen?" syndrome, so I refused to tell absolutely anyone but my husband for a week, until I'd spoken with all the other agents, excitedly confirmed to Andrea that I couldn't wait to work with her, and actually signed a contract. The day I signed the contract was my ten-year high school reunion; getting to tell people there that I had an agent was celebration enough! But yeah, I should probably buy myself something pretty...
C: Tell us a little about your success story:
D: Andrea was literally the first agent I'd sent material to, thanks to the contest, and I couldn't believe it when she came back to me for a full after less than a day. When I saw another e-mail from her maybe ten days later, my face just fell - I was sure that meant it was going to be a "thanks, but no thanks" e-mail. Obviously - and thankfully! - it was not, and the next day we talked on the phone, and she was just so much fun. I loved talking to her, I loved how much she loved my manuscript and the characters in it, but as the conversation was obviously nearing its end, I couldn't help but notice that she had not actually said the words "offer of representation." I ended up stumbling like a fourteen-year-old boy at his first dance trying to ask if this was an offer, and when I finally got the words out, she just laughed and said, "I thought that was obvious!" It probably should've been, but who ever believes it when dreams actually come true, anyway?
Okay, so Dahlia and I must be the same person because I LOVED all her answers. LOL
Now let's hear from Andrea! Of course, she's one of those agents everyone thinks is amazing so hop on over and check out her Twitter and website!
C: First things first, what is your sweet of choice?
A: Brownies. After many taste tests I've determined that Betty Crocker chewy fudge are the best
C: At what point during a MS can you usually tell you are going to offer?
A: I usually have a strong sense within the first fifty pages, but I don't know for sure until about 3/4s of the way through. Writing a novel is so difficult - oftentimes an author starts off strong but loses control of the story half way through. Sometimes this is fixable with revisions - sometimes it isn't.
C: How can you tell?
A: At the beginning it's mostly about voice and character development - as the story progresses, though, the author needs to be able to pull everything together into a compelling cohesive whole.
C: What is the first thing you will do after finishing a MS you are going to offer on?
A: While reading the manuscript I am automatically thinking about how I would position it, and what editors would be the best fit. I then give the author a call to offer representation, and to see if they have any questions about me, the agency, the industry, and my vision for the project and their career.
C: Do you ever offer on a MS that you had to take time to decide on first? Or is it typically a fast and easy love?
A: Usually it's a fast and easy love but there is the occasional project that I think has potential but needs more work. These I'll tend to deliberate more on.
C: Do YOU like to do anything to celebrate before/after MAKING "The Call"?
A: Ha! No, but maybe I'll start.
C: Do you have any advice for a writer who just received "The Call"?
A: Don't rush into anything. Make sure the agent is a good fit for you, your project, and your career.
C: What kind of things can you forgive in a MS when considering offering? What things must already be in good shape?
A: Story structure can sometimes be fixed - the quality of prose and narrative voice are much harder.
C: If you could only grab three things from the grocery store, what would they be?
A: Olives, water crackers, and creamcheese. I love creamcheese - I'll sometimes eat it with a spoon.
C: What made you request the full on BEHIND THE SCENES?
A: I loved the narrative voice, and the protagonist. I was intrigued, and wanted to read more
C: What made you offer on BEHIND THE SCENES?
A: There was so much I loved about the manuscript. The characters are great and the dialogue is smart, witty, and highly entertaining. I also loved the premise and how the story developed. It's satisfying, without being predictable.
C: What is the most common reason you will NOT upgrade a partial to a full?
A: The narrative voice didn't draw me in
C: What is your biggest advice for writers seeking agents?
A: Don't take rejection personally - this is a highly subjective business, and it is a business. When I pass on a project it's because I don't know how to sell it to a publisher - not because I think you're a horrible writer.
C: What is your favorite part of being a literary agent?
A: I love books and I love working with other people who love books
C: Anything specific you are seeking right now?
A: Anything with great characters and a strong narrative voice - but nothing specific!
C: Now please tell us something super weird about yourself. :)
A: Besides eating cream cheese with a spoon? Hmmm... Okay, when I was younger I had this odd habit - whenever someone would say something to me I would 'type' out the words by moving my jaw (it's hard to explain without a visual). But, needless to say, it wasn't pretty. It probably cost me a few dates. On the bright side, I'm now a fantastic typist.
Haha! I loved that last one! Although, all this food talk is making me hungry! Brownies and Ben and Jerry's? Yes, please!!!
THANK YOU Dahlia and Andrea for letting me interview you and being awesome! I'm so happy to see BEHIND THE SCENES moving forward!
Thanks for reading everyone! Now go have a great Friday the 13th!