Teenage love, loss and--oh, yeah--Werewolves. Monsters are everywhere and what if the most frightening isn't a werewolf at all? Jessica's life seemed tragic enough since the loss of her mother, but meeting Pietr turns her world upside down again. The newest member of Junction High, Pietr has secrets to hide--secrets including dramatic changes he is undergoing that will surely end his life early.
Saoirse Redgrave’s cell phone novel 13 to Life: A Werewolf’s Tale was picked up by St. Martin’s Press in a 3 book deal after taking first place in the 2008 Textnovel contest. 13 to Life: A Werewolf’s Tale was written as a cell phone novel in 5 short weeks. As her road to publication is fascinating, Saoirse was kind enough to tell us how it all came about.
In a press release I read that you had chosen Textnovel as your exclusive literary agent. Can you share how they acted as your agent and was it through them that St. Martin's became interested or was it through your own effort?
Ah. This was around the time I started blinking rapidly in life due to shock and surprise. ;-) Along with the original cash prize of $1,000 I also was given the option of having Textnovel's founder, Stan Soper, as my agent. Stan's a Yale man with a degree in contract law and he was just starting towards becoming an agent. We had a very frank phone call (just my style) and he assured me the cash prize was still mine whether I wanted representation or not. For the previous year I'd been hearing a very dear friend of mine complaining about the difficulty of attracting an agent. I didn't want to go through the headache she was having and (having read the contract Stan offered) figured: Huh. What the heck? A grand and another voice to support my attempts at getting published. The contract was adjusted at my request (Stan being tremendously reasonable) and we started getting together all those nightmarish things you're told you need (query, outline, summary...). Then Stan called me and said (before our queries were out) that St. Martin's was curious (having seen a press release Stan had done for the contest and little else). After a little dance of joy, we approached SMP. They wanted to see a full manuscript. HA!
You know that cell phone novels are amazingly brief--closer to screen plays in some ways, I think. I had been doggedly (hey, it's a werewolf story ;-) working on fleshing out 13 to Life. It was little more than a story skeleton that won, in retrospect. But I did NOT have a full ready. I asked Stan to buy me some time--I didn't want SMP's interest to wane, but I wanted to be ready. Stan got me 3 weeks, I think, and I worked my butt off (though writing for long periods of time seems to put a butt right back in its place ;-). Stan asked me if I had any questions for SMP and I said to my husband "Is now the time to ask if they're for real and do they know I'm a nobody or should we wait?" "Wait," he assured me (he probably sneaked in some line about me not being a nobody to him, but, whatever. ;-)
Meanwhile we were contacted by the first of several Hollywood producers and another BIG publisher expressed curiosity, too. When I wasn't writing (or dosing up on coffee and trying to catch a few winks) I researched the two publishers and the producer. And Stan juggled for me, keeping in touch with people, keeping my name out there (well, Saoirse's name). Finally, I shoved the manuscript past a few betas (including an awesome bookstore owner named Annette Fitzgerald who printed the whole manuscript--then about 350 pages, double-spaced--and had it bound so she could chew through it). In one day. A few minor things were tweaked and we sent it to SMP and the other publisher. [The other publisher's contact was on vacation and her second said that although they really liked the project, they thought it might be too young for their YA target audience (in retrospect, I doubt they really read it through). But. At the same moment (like, all this was literally happening right on top of the other--talk about a wild ride) SMP had asked about getting me under contract. Stan and I were on the phone again and Stan said (essentially) that he knew this story could go to more books and did I feel the same way? Why, yes, I did. My hubby and I had been chatting about how far I thought this could run as a series. I had notes and outlines (some tighter than the others). Stan asked, "How many books?" I told him I thought maybe four or five with potential spin-offs but could easily guarantee three. And shazam! A three book deal in the works and a Hollywood producer asking us if he could shop us to Disney (which we had to say not now since we were working on the contract).
Contracting was the scariest part for me. I read through it. The hubby read through it. Pal Deborah Blake (an author through Lllewellyn) read through it and Stan combed through it and brought in an additional publishing lawyer. We made suggestions, we got some changes, and feeling pretty darn good about stuff, signatures were placed on appropriate lines.
So, long story short, SMP contacted us partly due to a press release, but Stan was instrumental in sealing the deal. ;-)
More with Saoirse Redgrave...