Thursday, April 26, 2012

Interview with Krista Van Dolzer ... and Winners!

My dear friend and critique partner of two years, Krista Van Dolzer, signed with Super Agent Kate Testerman (a.k.a. Daphne Unfeasible) a few weeks ago. I am over-the-moon excited for her!! To celebrate, I thought it would be fun to do a little interview and pick her brain about writing and what it's like being newly agented.
Welcome Krista! I know it's early in the author-agent relationship, but what are the top three things you've come to appreciate about your agent?
I appreciate how enthusiastic Kate is, both in general and about my manuscript. I'm an exclamation-point person (online, anyway), and Kate is, too, so that works out well. As for my manuscript, Kate offered representation a few hours before leaving for the Bologna Book Fair because she couldn't stand waiting, and I loved that. It actually factored into my decision to sign with her.
I also appreciate how patient she is, especially with me. I'm kind of a worrywart, so I e-mail her more than I probably should. But she's never been anything but kind and enthusiastic in her responses. I never feel like I'm bugging her.
Finally, I appreciate her tenacity. As another of her clients told me, she's committed to having success with every one of us, so she's not afraid to submit a manuscript as many times as it takes. 
Can you tell us a little about your current novel? Tell us about genre and subject, but also a nutshell version of what the querying process was like for you this time around.
THE REGENERATED MAN AND ME, whom I affectionately call Steve, is an MG historical with a dash of science fiction. I was lying in bed one night, just on the verge of sleep, when a first line came to me: "Mama said it was plum foolishness to keep my cousin's dog tags like that, with his blood still stuck between the ridges of his name." I wondered what kind of story would start with that kind of line, and Steve was born.
Steve is the fourth manuscript I've queried, but to be honest, I thought my third manuscript was going to be the One. When it didn't land an agent, I was devastated, heartbroken. I started querying Steve in this weird in-between place, with absolutely no expectations as to how it would turn out. Happily, the first query I sent turned into an offer (although it did take a few months).
Have you always written Middle Grade? Do you see yourself continuing to write in this genre?
Steve is the first truly MG manuscript I've tackled; my previous novels were YA. Eventually, I want to build a career like Shannon Hale's or Lauren Oliver's, in which I bounce back and forth between YA and MG, but for the time being, I plan to stay in this category, just for continuity's sake.
(Oooh, I'd love to bounce back and forth between YA and MG, too!)
What's it like being on submission?
Exhilarating, terrifying, surreal. Mostly surreal. I've been on submission for less than two weeks, so I guess I can't say for sure:) I can say that I'm still having a hard time believing that real-life editors are reading my manuscript. And after spending so long in the query trenches, I'm still trying to figure out how to relinquish control of the process. Thank goodness for Kate's patience:)
Do you have a favorite author who inspires you in your writing?
You know, I've never really thought about it. I certainly have authors whose books and writing I admire. I love Lauren Oliver's work and how effortlessly she writes both YA and MG. I just finished Maggie Stiefvater's THE SCORPIO RACES, and the soul-deep realness of the relationship between Puck and Sean thoroughly engaged me. And then there are those authors--A.J. Paquette, Ally Condie, a bunch of others whose names I can't think of right now--whose prose just makes me sigh. I wish I could put words together half as beautifully as they do.

Thank you, Krista, and congratulations again! And if you aren't already following Krista's blog (or Kate's for that matter), you really need to. Besides blogging fantastically, Krista holds Agent Inbox contests regularly, which are golden opportunities for aspiring writers.

And, very quickly, I want to announce the fabulous winners of my little celebration critique contest:

Full Manuscript Critique: Andrea Berthot 

Ten-page Critique: Suzi

Ten-page Critique: Julie DeGuia

Congratulations, winners! And thank you to everyone who entered. I wish I had time to give a critique to every one of you!  

Happy Writing!


  1. OMG! I can't believe I won the full ms critique! Thank you so much for this opportunity!!! And wonderful interview with Krista too - I follow her blog as well and she is so inspiring! Thank you, thank you, thank you again!

    Andrea Berthot

  2. Wow, so very cool. Thank you.

    For Krista, just in case she checks comments. I didn't realize she was on submission already that seems super fast. Did Kate suggest many changes with the ms, or was it pretty much ready to go?

  3. This is such a lovely thing for you to do, Amy. I've seen people offer free critique before and there's always a load of grateful writers eager to take them up on the offer. I always feel pressed for time these days, with my own critique group, prepping my MS with my editor, and I'm in the mist of judging a writing contest. But I do hope to do free critique too, it's a good way to pass it forward.

  4. Congrats to the winners!
    And congrats to Kate! I'll cross my fingers for a quick sale (because i'd love to read that book!)

  5. Love hearing about writer success stories! It is very motivating! And obviously I am an exclamation point kind of person too. LOL! It has been noted by many people. And I'm very excited to have you read my first 10 pages! Thanks for the opportunity.

  6. Thanks for having me, Amy! And congratulations to Andrea, Suzi, and Julie. You three are lucky ladies. Amy's feedback is invaluable.

    (And Suzi, both Kate and the other offering agent thought Steve was in really good shape. I spent a week going over the manuscript one last time, but then we were ready to go!)

  7. Congrats winners!

    Thanks for the interview, enjoyed it.

  8. So, should the contest winners email you our work? I figured so, but wanted to check first - and to find out when you would like it. Thanks so much again!

  9. Kritsa - thanks for clarifying the revising you did, or didn't do I guess. After hearing (this past weekend at the Western WA SCBWI conference) that some authors will rewrite each line 20 times or that an agent asked to have an entire character added, it is nice to hear that major revision isn't always necessary!

  10. Yes, please Andrea! You can email me at a2sonnichsen (at) gmail (dot) com. Sorry, I should have put that in the post!

    Thank you!! And congrats again!

  11. Great interview!

    Krista, your book sounds fantastic--love the opening line. I'll keep my fingers crossed for a quick sale!

  12. Yay winners! You are some lucky ducks - Amy is an awesome critter.
    Thanks for the interview, ladies. Fingers crossed for you, Krista. I'm in the same place - nail biting followed by absolute denial that it's happening. Sometimes I think denial is better. :)

  13. I would love to write YA and MG as well (with an occasional PB thrown in). Hey! A girl can dream, right?

  14. This is really great. And how amazing that Krista is ALREADY on submission after only 2 weeks with her agent. Um, didn't she have revisions? (cough, cough).

  15. Congrats to the winners AND to Krista.

    Thanks for the interview! I stumbled across Krista's blog and twitter a few weeks ago through a fellow bloggy friend and she seems awesome. :)

  16. Congrats winners and I'm still SO happy for Krista! What a great interview! :)

  17. have an interesting space, a great pleasure to read you.
    if you like the poetry I invite you to my space.
    happy day.
    a greeting.

  18. How exciting for Krista and Kate!! Congratulations all around and to you winners too. :)
    Catherine Denton


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