Thursday, June 9, 2011

Interview With Angie Sandro--Newly Represented!

Instead of a blog spotlight this week I'd like to share an interview with paranormal-fantasy writer Angie Sandro, fresh from the query trenches and who recently landed an agent. I know Angie from Agent Query Connect. She's a fantastic critic when it comes to query letters, has an engaging writing style, and is a very nice person. If you're in the middle of the query process or about to begin, hopefully this interview will prove helpful and encouraging.

J.A.: How long have you been writing? What are your favorite genres to write?
A.S.: My sister recently reminded me of a story I wrote in the fifth grade, a ten page handwritten horror novel about the devil possessing a man in a haunted house. She said that story scared her so bad, she slept with the lights on for a week. I ended up passing the story around to my classmates and their response to it fueled my desire to write for an audience of more than just family. I kept writing, but not seriously until last year. On my birthday, I had an epiphany. Life is too short not to go for your dreams, and my dream has always been to get published. So I buckled down and focused on learning the craft of writing and finished three manuscripts in the YA genre. Every story I have ever written has horror, romance, or fantasy aspects.

J.A.: What are your favorite genres to read? What books have had the most impact on you?
A.S.: My favorite genres are horror and fantasy. I think the books that had the most impact on me personally were David Eddings’s, The Belgariad series. I read this series at the age of thirteen, and it was the first fantasy series I’d ever read. Before that, it was all Judy Blume and Sweet Valley High novels. I had no idea that fantasy could be so entertaining. I fell in love with this genre and moved on to Raymond E. Feist, Anne Mccaffrey, etc. Then I found Stephen King. I still read The Stand every time I catch the flu. I love his worlds.

J.A.: Aside from writing, what do you love to do?
A.S.: I love reading (I’m a book addict), bike riding, knitting, genealogy, and hanging with my family.

J.A.: What can you tell us about your agent and the process of signing on with her?
A.S.: Kathleen Rushall of Marsal Lyon Literary is my agent and she’s fantastic. I was reading this blog (thank you Joyce), and learned that Kathleen was accepting queries in the young adult genre. I started researching her online and found her interview with Monica B.W. on the Love YA blog, Kathleen said, “Topics of particular interest to me include reincarnation, the occult, the supernatural (not in a zombie or vampire context, more psychic, or witchy, or fey), ghosts (a scary ghost story? yes, please), and psychology.”

I thought, wow, she’s perfect! I sent her the query letter for Juju’s Child, and received a full request for the manuscript half an hour later. The next morning, she called with an offer of representation saying she “loved” the book. Her response was everything that I dreamed of finding a prospective agent.

In one day, less than 24 hours, my life changed with one phone call. This is the reason why no matter how sick and tired you are of the daily query rejects hitting your inbox—YOU CAN’T GIVE UP. Today could be the day.

J.A.: May we see your agent-winning query letter?
Dear Ms. Rushall,

When seventeen-year-old Malaise LaCroix finds a dead girl floating in the bayou, she crosses her mama by reporting the murder to the police. She’s naive enough to think the girl’s parents will be grateful, but Mama warns her otherwise. Of course, once folk start dying, Mala wishes she’d listened and left the girl for gator–bait.

Mala’s innocence becomes overshadowed by the pesky rumors that her aunt is an infamous New Orleans Hoodoo Queen and her mama can shrivel a guy's, well, man-parts. Even the boy Mala’s in love with is afraid to stray too close. Thing is, Mala thinks believing in magic is for weak-minded fools, until the dead girl starts haunting her.

The desperate spirit crushes the minds of those she influences and needs Mala’s latent psychic gift, willing or not, to expose her murderer. And once the girl’s father, Reverend Prince learns his daughter’s body has been drained of blood in what he assumes is a magical ritual, he sets out on an old-fashioned witch-hunt.

To keep from becoming the soul’s possession, or worse, being burned at the stake, Mala turns to the two guys whose own agendas don’t include helping an outcast such as herself—the cop she’s pined after since ninth grade that is investigating the murder and the ghost’s grief-crazed brother who uses Mala’s attraction to him as a weapon for revenge.

I was thrilled to see your interview on the Love YA blog, especially your request for something "witchy", and hope you'll be intrigued by JUJU'S CHILD, a 79,000 word young adult. Mala Lacroix is a  teenage,  African-American Sookie Stackhouse who gets caught up with the supernatural--ghosts instead of vampires--romance and murder. This manuscript was inspired by my rich, Louisiana Creole cultural heritage .

J.A.: How long did you query before finding your agent?
A.S.: I began querying in 2010 on another manuscript which I ended up shelving after querying 180 agents. While I was querying that book, I began writing Juju’s Child in October 2010, and started querying it in February 2011. I found my agent in May 2011. So basically, it was a year and a half of querying agents.

J.A.: What advice would you give to those who are actively querying or getting ready to query? 
A.S.: Ah, research, research, and research some more. There are many online resources like where you can get tips on everything from drafting your first manuscript, writing synopsis and query letters, and finding agents. I wrote about my take on writing query letters on Kate Evangelista’s blog Reads, Reviews, and Recommends: The Anatomy of a Query Letter.

J.A.: What have you learned from writing and querying that you didn't know before?
A.S.: When I started querying, I knew nothing. Not a clue about how challenging and thrilling this process can be. It certainly isn’t for the faint of heart. The key is to keep learning and growing. Connect with others who are going through the same process and learn from them.

J.A.: How important were your beta readers?
A.S.: I wouldn’t be where I am today without my critique partners and beta readers. We met during the Speculative Fiction Posting Marathon and Agent Query Connect last year, and after finishing the marathon we continued on together. We’ve grown so much as writers and as friends.

J.A.: And for fun: If you were to change one thing about the world tomorrow (big or small) what would it be?
A.S.: For some reason I’m having a hard time finding an answer that doesn’t sound like I’m in a beauty pageant asking for world peace or feeding the homeless. Which are things I would love to change about the world, but I think I’m going with my dream. Personally, I’d like to see more emphasis on developing our space program in the direction of eventually colonizing new worlds, seeking out new life….boldly going….Yeah, I’m a geek and proud of it.

We like geeks on this blog. Great dream. Thank you, Angie! It's great to be able to see the light at the end of the query tunnel. Best of luck to you and your agent as you move on to the next step in the publishing process.

Angie Sandro can be found at:
On Twitter: @AngieSandro

For information about Kathleen Rushall of Marsal Lyon Literary:
Guide to Literary Agents Spotlight (note, she has since changed agencies)
The Marsal Lyon Literary Agency, LLC (note, they haven't added Ms. Rushall into the agent link yet but you can find out about the agency here)


  1. Hi Joyce,
    Thank you so much for asking me for an interview. It's my first ever:) I just wanted to tell you how much I've appreciated how kind you've been to me and how much I've learned from you over the last year.
    Thank you
    Angie Sandro

    P.S. For some reason I'm having trouble signing into my google account, which is why I'm Anonymous today:)

  2. Yay, Angie! Great interview, Joyce. :)

  3. Love it! "How I got my agent" stories are so fun and encouraging :)

    And I absolutely love the voice in your query letter, Angie. It sounds amazing and I can't wait to read it when it hits stores :)

  4. Yay Angie! I'm so happy for you. Congrats on your first interview.


    PS: I can't sign in on google either.

  5. I appreciate all the congrats, and I'm glad you enjoyed the interview. I feel so blessed to have such such wonderful, supportive friends.

    Thank you all.

    Angie Sandro

  6. Hooray for my agent-sister! :) Congrats Angie! I'ts great to hear about your background and story. Great voice in that query, btw! :)

  7. Happy to have you on the blog, Angie. =)It's a small way to shout the news and show how excited I am for you.