DID YOU HEAR THE NEWS??? Because I feel like I’ve been screaming/yelling/crying/fangirling about it for days!!!!!! Well, if ya haven’t heard yet, guess what… MY BEAUTIFUL AND MAGICAL AND LOVELY AND AMAZING AND TALENTED CP Janella signed with her agent!!!! The amazing Thao Le!!!!!!!
(Sorry for all the shouting, but I’m super excited and also, I’ve been watching Parks and Recreation like a maniac and seemed to have imbibed some of Leslie Knope’s energy–and perhaps also some of Craig’s…)
Seriously guys, Janella is such an amazing person who has been nothing but friendly and supportive since I met her (and is also super hilarious–bonus!) She was one of my very first writing buddies EVER and I’m so lucky and grateful that we met and that she lets me read her work! She works crazy hard on her holy-crow-so-amazing books and I’m so happy for her because it is 1000000010% deserved!!! I’m just so incredibly amazed that I can call her my friend!
Anyways, read it about how she got her agent here in this amazing post Janella wrote!!!! But onwards!!! Since Janella is soooooo amazing and such, I thought it would be super cool if we did a little interview with her and guess what?? SHE SAID YES!!!! Haaaaaa, I’ve rambled quite enough, so let’s get to the real good stuff!!
1. Soooo, Janella, tell us a little bit about yourself and what you write!!! 😀
Oh boy, you hit me with the hard one first. Okay, basics then: I recently graduated from Emerson College with a B.A. in Writing, Literature, and Publishing, I’m deeply in love with the color red, and I’m a Massachusetts native (which means I most definitely run on Dunkin). YA books pretty much saved me when I was in junior high and throughout high school. When my love for writing grew, I just knew without hesitation that those were the books I wanted to write. YA was always it for me when it came to my publishing studies and my writing pursuits. More specifically, most of my stories and ideas are geared toward the speculative side, because I just can’t resist throwing in elements of magic and impossibility into my writing. I also have a few ideas in other genres simmering in the back of my head that I hope to write one day! We’ll see (:
2. When did you start writing? (Rumor has it you started out writing some fan fiction?? *raises eyebrows*)
The rumors are true! I feel like I’ve always been imagining and coming up with stories all my life, but writing truly became my obsession when fanfiction entered my life. Harry Potter fanfiction, to be exact—and a tribute to my other love, Veronica Mars, as well. I was always a Marauders Era kind of girl, which meant that Jily was my leading OTP, and also that I had the power to make Peter Pettigrew just conveniently disappear from the page…
I was around 12 years old when I started writing and posting, and to receive reviews and encouragement (as well as the occasional life-hating troll remarks) always kept me writing more and coming up with new stories. Aside from fanfiction, I was also heavily reading YA at the time, so most of my earlier attempts at original novels just read as very familiar to what was already out there, and thus, were rightfully abandoned. But I owe so much to fanfiction because of how it really began my writing journey—and I also owe a lot to those failed projects as well because while they fizzled out, they helped me challenge myself to find my own voice and branch out my own original ideas away from what was already out there.
3. What’s your daily writing routine like?
Because I’m still in the midst of job-hunting (fondly known as the Tenth Circle of Hell), I’m fortunate enough to have a lot of time devoted to writing right now. The schedule varies, but I usually spend most of the morning writing and coffee-guzzling, take a non-writerly break in the middle, and then return to writing later in the afternoon and until evening. But even when I’m not in front of my computer or notes, I’m constantly daydreaming and brainstorming until it feels like I’m never ever fully away from my writing.
4. How many books did you write before you got an agent?
I’ve completed just one other book before writing “the book” that got me my agent.
5. What was the hardest part about querying?
For me personally, it’s how little control you have in the process—and I know this applies to every step in trying to get published. But with querying, it can be especially soul-sucking at times. Although the writer has the control over when it comes to the act of sending the queries and how to react from the responses, there is no control over the whens or the whys. Sometimes, you’ll find yourself having a bad day…and then getting two rejections in a row can make it even worse. Some people may love your story, but just not love it enough. It can instill a lot of doubt in yourself when there are so many things you can’t control, but you just have to keep chugging along despite the obstacles. Hope for the best, but also be prepared for the bad because it’s all part of the package that is the journey to publication.
6. How did you know you found the right agent?
I’ve always been a huge fan of Thao! No exaggeration. Even back in the early stages of my publishing research, Thao was constantly at the top of my list, and I always seemed to gravitate toward her when it came to narrowing down which agents I felt I could really vibe well with. Her social media presence and personality are stellar, her clients are wonderful, and every time I glanced at her MSWL, I was always floored that the sort of stories she was looking for corresponded with the ones I dreamed of/already had plans for writing. I thought I’d blown it when I queried her with my first novel and was later rejected—but when I queried her with my second novel, thinking it a better fit, I was shocked that she showed interest in seeing it. I feel like I knew all along I would’ve loved to work with her, but I didn’t really know just how much until we finally had The Call. Her approach, vision, and editorial notes for my story all told me that we would make a great match, and I feel so lucky to have her with me now on my writing journey.
7. How did you celebrate signing with an agent?
Lots of crying and trying to convince myself that it all wasn’t some hysterical dream my brain had cooked up. Then later, when I finally composed myself and was convinced that everything that had just happened was real, I celebrated with wine, chicken nuggets, and kdramas.
8. What’s your advice for writers out there slogging it in the query trenches?
For querying writers, start a new project! This really saved my sanity when I was going mad from all the lows and the waiting. You really just need something to keep your imagination up and running, and to distract you from checking your inbox a million times a day. There is no better cure for this than throwing yourself into another story and feeling that writer’s high again. And hey, when you do get that call from the agent and he/she asks if you have any other projects in your arsenal, you can tell them all about the fabulous new manuscript already in the works 😉
But my biggest piece of advice for any writer—querying or not—is to hang in there and always write for yourself. Don’t write against a clock, don’t write to get an agent, don’t write for the hope of becoming super rich and famous. Ambition is a fantastic quality to have and can really keep you afloat in this sort of industry—but when you start to approach writing as just a means to an end, then that’s a red flag. I went into the query trenches accepting that this book may not be The Book. It’s not a fun thought, but it’s realistic. And in the end, what mattered most to me was that I truly loved writing it, and had given it everything I had because it meant so much to me. You may not always get exactly what you want in return when you enter those trenches, but it’s okay. We all fail—before, after, and during—but there are also rewards to those downs if you’re willing to see them. Just love your manuscripts and your writing selflessly, and you’ll always find the strength to try again and keep getting back up.
EEEEEE!!!! Everyone give a big round of applause to Janella for these lovely (and freakin’ inspiring) answers!!!! Thank you so much, Juju Bear for answering these questions for me!!!!!! YOU’RE THE BEST!!!!!
Thanks for reading everyone and putting up with my incessant rambling and one too many exclamation points!!! NOW EVERYONE GO CONGRATULATE JANELLA!!!!!! ❤