Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Two names you need to know: Jamie Harrington and Sketch McGee

If there is one piece of advice I would give a fellow aspiring writer just starting out, it's to find a critique partner you trust, who is brutally honest with you on both what works and doesn't work in your story, and who you think can write brilliantly (because trust me, you need to love their work because you will be reading it A LOT). That being said, I found two. And trust me I know how blessed I am to have them. So how could I not make a fuss over the fact that one of my critique partners and incredibly talented friend, Jamie Harrington, scored an agent?

You know all those qualities I mentioned above that a good writing buddy should have? Well, Jamie's got all that and more. She's a rock star. Seriously. Since she signed with a fabulous agent it's pretty obvious Jamie is a top notch writer and story teller, but she can also edit the pants of anything you send her and like her main character, Sketch, she does it with lightening speed. As you can see she's a pretty handy person to know when it comes to writing, but Jamie's also one of the funniest, optimistic and most supportive people I know. She's brought me back from my dark and twisty place more than once and with her comment bubbles and suggestions to hack away up to an entire chapter at times, has made my own work way, way, way better.

Now, without further ado, I give you the woman herself...

Okay, so let's just get right to it. In two sentences, describe your book.

Sketch is about a sixteen year old super villain that can change the future with her drawings. Her nemesis is a super cute hero who turns out to be more fun than any adversary really should be.

You ended up with multiple offers of representation, but ultimately went with Victoria Horn from Liza Dawson Associates. How do you even make that kind of decision?

Well, that was kind of a crazy week. One agent made an offer, and then I had to email all the other agents that had my manuscript. When it was all said and done, I ended up with five offers, and just had to go with my gut. I clicked pretty much instantly with Victoria, and was really impressed with her agency. But, and most importantly--I liked what she had to say about my book and my career. She's very business minded and I'm all artsy. She's the sturdy peanut butter that holds the sandwich together while I'm the fruity jam that makes it all tasty. (Ohmigosh when she reads this I am in t-rouble!)

When you were writing Sketch, did you think it was THE book?

Now, that's a toughie, because when you're in the middle of writing a book, you love it more than anything else you've ever written. But, I knew there was something about Sketch. The whole premise of the book is so dang cool that my only worry was being a strong enough writer to do the characters justice. I actually did a ton of super hero/villain research (read: watched loads of movies and read piles of comics) to make sure I got the whole world building and origins thing. In the end, though--I think the voice of the characters is what makes the story so smackin' awesome.

You're about to start submitting the story to publishers. What's going through your head?

We're waiting until after the holidays to send the story out, because we're hoping they are kind of over the Christmas rush and all hunkered down for the winter looking for amazing books then, but I am a huge ball of emotions. Part of me is the most excited person in the world, I can't believe that actual editors of actual publishing houses are going to be thinking about MY book. That's just insane. Then there's this whole other part of me that is super scared. What if everyone hates it? What if they think my ideas silly and my writing trite? That could totally happen. Man, this writing thing's a tough gig.

And, of course we all want to read the query that scored you the agent. Would you mind sharing it?

Of course not! I think a well written query is the writer's best tool. We need to remember that it's our first contact with an agent. It's our two minute opportunity to make an awesome impression, so make it amazing. Here's mine:

Dear Secret Agent (Wo)Man,

(This is where I personalized the query in some way. If I twittered or talked them in the comments of their blog or just whatever. I tried to remind them that we'd had contact in some way, and that I was all cheerful and adorable.)

Compared to super speed and mind reading, sixteen-year-old Sketch McGee’s ability to draw the future makes her a pretty lame villain in a family of super-bads. It’s all she can do to make it through a day of high school, much less mastermind evil plans. But, everything changes when the new guy, Chase Fairway, steals her heart—which is quickly broken when she discovers he’s the obnoxious new do-gooder in town flying around mucking up her family’s life of crime.

Drawing the future turns out to be a little bit cooler when she learns she can also shape it however she wants. Goodbye do-gooder, hello perfect bad-boy boyfriend Chase. Life is great, until she figures out he’s a whole different kind of bad guy. Not bank-robbing, diamond-stealing evil like her family, but murderous psychopath evil. Suddenly her drawings of a man standing over her dad’s lifeless body make perfect, horrifying sense. Chase plans to kill her dad.

Governed by her emotions and struggling to control her powers, she has to find a way to erase her mistakes and create a new future without Chase as her boyfriend, or watch her father’s death—in real life.

SKETCH, a YA Superhero complete at 60,000 words, is available upon request. Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you.

A big thank you to Jamie for doing this interview and for just plain being awesome. I think it's safe to say that we can expect to hear about Sketch finding a home with one of the big publishers before spring. If you'd like to know more about Jamie and Sketch visit her blog and be sure to check out a great interview with Jamie our other amazing critique buddy, Sara Tribble, did on her blog here. Keep your eye on Sara too because I have a good feeling she'll be landing an agent next.


Anonymous said...

Sounds really cool! Good luck with your novel.

ElanaJ said...

Congrats again to Jamie!

MeganRebekah said...

You are very lucky to have such an awesome crit partner!
I've been following the progress of Sketch McGee since I first saw Jamie mention it on Absolute Write. I'm not at all surprised she landed five offers. And I won't be surprised if the book goes to auction!

~Jamie said...

Thanks guys! You're all the bomb-diggity :)

Nova said...

Jamie I think this is absolutely amazing! I'm so happy for you. Although I only got to read a few chapters of "Sketch" I instantly fell in love with the original plot line and characters. Congrats!