This Sunday, I woke up to some fantastic news from #PitProm #TeamFantasy member, Stuart White! He’s been acquired by the Belcastro Agency!!
Please enjoy this fantastic interview and join us in congratulating Stuart!!
Who is Stuart White?
Too old for Hogwarts, too few midi-chlorians to become a Jedi, too tall for a hobbit, too weak-stomached for GoT. Basically, I love the SFF but I’m not a main character, that’s why I write about them!
I’m a 34-year-old Scottish writer, who also teaches Biology, and loves rugby, burgers, and watching too many series on Netflix (I’m more Netflix and geek, than chill, alright?). And, of course, reading all the YA SFF!
Seriously, strike up a conversation about Star Wars or Marvel/DC and I’m all yours…
I’ve been long listed for the Spotlight First Novel prize, Flash 500 Novel prize, Yeovil Literary Prize and shortlisted for the New Voices award, runner-up in the Ink and Insights Master Novel contest and was a finalist in #PitProm 2017. I also blog along with my Scribbler friends at thescribblersonline.com.
- What inspired you to write this book?
As a biology teacher, teaching chromosomal and genital variations to youngsters struggling with identity, gender uncertainty or dysmorphia is an issue I feel strongly about. Young intersex people need to see heroes/heroines in fiction they can relate to. I also adore fantasy which explores the character of the world itself and I want to do that with Storm Rising and balance the fun fantastical elements of the genre with a powerful message, which is relatable to people in our world.
2. Which character, beside the main character, is your favorite?
That is so hard – like being asked who your favourite child or Star Wars character is – I truly love so many of them. I’d probably pick No-One. She is every shade of good and evil. Her love for Corena drives so many of her actions and I love the contrast of when we meet her, as an imprisoned, bitter assassin, with her heroics later in the book.
3. Is there a particular song or songs you listened to while writing your book?
Great question! And yes, I’ve got a few playlists I use. Some for drafting, some for editing. During drafting, when I don’t think too much, songs with lyrics are good. When I edit, I got for non-lyrical. I’ve been listening to the Tron soundtrack this summer and before that it was the Stranger Things soundtrack. Both are ace and have great tempo, too.
4. What was the most helpful bit of advice your #PitProm mentor gave you?
Too many to mention just one thing. On my 10 pages, she put over 100 comments, and probably the biggest focus was on the main character and really getting close to Corena and showing how she feels at all times. Exploring the characters mindset and going deeper and trying to pull the reader in with you. She’s ace at that and made the opening, and the letter, so much stronger.
5. What was your favorite part of your new query letter?
The opening line.
Intersex Ice-Witch Corena Storm hid in the shadows most of her life, but when her brother is executed, no amount of ice can quench the fire of revenge.
That was all Charlene. It’s what stood out to my agent when she first saw my query. Charlene really made the important elements of my story stand out in that one line.
6. If you could give an aspiring author some advice, what would it be?
I guess I’m still an aspiring author, but the one thing I’ve learned is…
Nothing matters as much as persistence.
Keep going. You’re going to get loads and loads of rejection, I’ve literally had 100’s, so try not to take it personally. Rejection is about words on a page. Not you. And if you persist and continue to write, you will improve, and if you do that, you might just find someone who believes in your writing and story.
And read, read, read. Read books like yours. Read books not like yours. Read classics and latest releases and read books about writing. And write.
And his agent, Sharon Belcastro, was kind enough to answer a few questions too!!
- What was your gut reaction to reading the author’s query letter?
Excitement to find a young adult fantasy with an intriguing premise and interesting diverse protagonist.
2. Is there a particular phrase which caught your attention from the first pages or query?
Yes, the fabulously intriguing hook that starts the query letter: “Intersex Ice-Witch Corena Storm hid in the shadows most of her life, but when her brother is executed, no amount of ice can quench the fire of revenge.” We love a good revenge story and in this case Stuart made it crystal clear exactly what the story was about in one crisp sentence.
3. What are you currently reading?
Body Parts by Jessica Kapp