Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Three Book Deal: Interview with Author Julie Kagawa

Today’s featured author is Julie Kagawa, whose 2010 debut novel is THE IRON KING (Harlequin Teen). If you visit her website you can read her amusing bio, which includes the following, “To pay the rent, Julie worked in different bookstores over the years, but discovered the managers frowned upon her reading the books she was supposed to be shelving. So she turned to her other passion: training animals. She worked as a professional dog trainer for several years, dodging Chihuahua bites and overly enthusiastic Labradors, until her first book sold and she stopped training to write full-time. Julie now lives in Louisville, Kentucky, where the frequency of shark attacks are at an all time low. She lives with her husband, two obnoxious cats, and one Australian Shepherd who is too smart for his own good.

I love her already.

Welcome, Julie, Can you tell us how you met your agent?
I met Laurie McClean, my fabulous agent from Larson-Pomada Literary agency, at a writer's workshop in Louisville, KY. The workshop was held at Spaulding University, and after a week of classes and instruction, we would get the chance to pitch our novels to a panel of agents and editors on Saturday. The end of the week was very exciting and nerve wracking; you'd think we were preparing for the arrival of the royalty, the way everyone was talking about it. But to an unpublished writer, an editor is nearly that.

Early Friday morning, before anyone else was up, I walked into the lounge to see a woman I'd never seen before standing in the middle of the room drinking a Coke. I knew it wasn't one of the students, and all the agents and editors flying in later were staying at a hotel. So I had no idea who this person was. Maybe security let someone slip in unnoticed.

"Uh ... hello?" I said intelligently.

"Oh, good morning!" said the strange person, much more cheerful than I would be at seven in the morning. "I'm Laurie McClean."

And at that moment, all the pieces clicked in my brain. "Laurie McClean" sounded awfully familiar, as if I read it somewhere before, like on the schedule. The agents and editors were supposed to be flying in today. The director said something about an agent who was not staying in the hotel, but in the dorms with the students.

Oh crap. This was an agent! I just "Uh helloed" an agent!

And to top it off, I was taking her to lunch that afternoon.

Fortunately, Laurie is one of the nicest persons on the planet. We sat in the lounge and talked for several minutes before the rest of the students got wind that an agent was in the building and mobbed the room. I talked to her a bit more at lunch, she asked for a few pages of my novel, and a few weeks later I nearly fell out of my chair when she asked to represent me.

Can you tell us how your book deal happened?
Laurie sent my novel to Natashya Wilson at Harlequin Teen (then MIRA), who loved it enough to offer a three book contract.

What was the inspiration for your 2010 debut book and how long did it take you to write?
I always loved old, creepy faery tales, the ones that showed faeries as primal and dangerous, instead of glittery winged sprites. But when I decided to write a book about faeries, I got to thinking: what are the fey afraid of? The obvious answer, in ancient myth and in more modern stories, was iron. They can't stand the touch of iron and steel, something we are completely surrounded by now. We even have monsters that inhabit machines: gremlins, worms, viruses, ect. So, what if there were a new type of faery, born from technology and progress? How would they affect the more traditional fey? And, from that thought, the Iron Fey were born.

THE IRON KING took me a little under two months to write, thanks to Chris Baty's book, No Plot, No Problem. Chris is the founder of a little known writing workshop you may have heard of: National Novel Writing Month, better known as NaNo WriMo. I was already 40k into the story, but I was super-eager to finish, so I set my own 30 day, 50,000 word deadline, and typed like a madwoman until the story was done.

What's your publication date and where in the process are you now?
THE IRON KING will come out in February of 2010. I'm waiting on copyedits now, but last week my editor e-mailed me cover concepts; you could hear me squee-ing a mile away.

Who is your favorite character in your book?
I would have to say Ash, Queen Mab's son, just because I love dark, stoic bad boys who can wield pointy objects. But of course, a smart-ass talking cat named Grimalkin runs a very close second.

What are you working on now?
I'm working on the second book in the series, THE IRON DAUGHTER. And when that is done, onto the third and final book, THE IRON QUEEN, right now just a wee twinkle in my eye.

Do you have any words of wisdom for writers trying to get published?
Persevere. Don't let anyone tell you you're too young, or too old, or too inexperienced, or too whatever. Learn everything you can about your craft. Go to conferences, workshops, and critique groups. Read books on writing. Strive to make yourself a better writer. Accept criticism graciously; don't think your story is too special and unique for people to understand--if they don't understand it, it's usually the fault of the writer. But don't let anyone discourage you. Above all, keep trying. As someone once told me: "If you want something bad enough, you'll get it. If you didn't get it, you didn't want it bad enough."

Where can we find out more about you on the web?
My website is at
Thanks so much for the interview!

Thank you, Julie! Looking forward to THE IRON KING and its sequels!


Kay Cassidy said...

Great interview, Christy! And Julie, my fellow Tenner - what a fabulous story. Rock on with your two-month-story-writing self! :-)

And btw, I met Natashya at a conference last summer and totally adore her. She's terrific!

Suzanne Young said...

After that bio, I'm hooked!

Little Ms J said...

Love the interview, love the bio, love the story and I absolutely adore the advice.

Jennie Englund said...

Love how Julie met her agent.

The early bird catches the worm, right?

In Seattle, I'm going to hit the lobby at the crack of dawn.

Thanks, Julie and Christy!

Crystal said...

Thanks for another fantastic interview, Christy!

Anonymous said...

Holy Cow! What is up with the write a trilogy in two months deal? Julie must be super talented. (And she seems super funny- good combo!)


Anne Spollen said...

Great interview!

Even if it DOES make me feel like I'm working/writing at about the speed an elephant walks by comparison, it's good!

Anonymous said...

Oh man that IS a great agent-meeting story! Thanks for the interview, guys!