I had the great pleasure of interviewing Gennifer Albin – Super-Mom, writer extraordinaire and fellow Apocalypsie – about her thrilling debut novel, CREWEL.
Congratulations on your amazing book deal for Crewel! Can you tell us about the story?
Thanks! Crewel centers around sixteen year-old Adelice Lewys, a young woman who has the ability to weave the fabric of existence. But unlike most girls her age, she isn’t interested in having a life of power and privilege, so she tries to run and sets in motion a life-changing chain of events that thrusts her into the inner circles of power and challenges her to decide who she wants to become. And there’s boys. And kissing.
Your journey to publication is a truly inspiring story. Can you give us a summary of the events leading up to signing the three-book deal?
I started to write a book last summer and abandoned it when the prologue for Crewel popped into my head. I wrote it down, emailed it to a friend, and told my husband that I thought I’d found the “one.” Then two days later I fried my laptop with a whole glass of water and gave up on the book. When November rolled around I heard about NaNoWriMo, I thought I’d give it a try, so I went to the library for three hours a night with my flash drive and worked on public computers. By the end of the month I had my first draft. I reworked it several times and was ready to query at the end of April. I decided to attend a WriteOnCon live query workshop to get feedback before I sent out my materials. The agent liked it, asked for more, and offered representation within the week. By the next week, I had seven offers of rep, including one from Mollie Glick at Foundry Literary+Media. I signed with Mollie and we did a couple weeks of revisions, went on submission Memorial Day weekend, and then to auction the following Thursday. Five houses bid, I barely slept, and then FSG came in with an amazing offer and beautiful marketing plan and won my heart and the book. It was a pretty incredible 5 weeks!
You won the pitch contest at Pitchapalooza. What makes a good pitch?
I think an in-person pitch needs a combination of plot, flavor, and poise. You need to be able to convey a high-tension, compelling plot that has an original feel, or flavor, in under a minute with as much stage presence, if you will, as possible. Also live pitches are a great place to use comps (or comparative titles) like Ender’s Game for girls or Frankenstein meets Gossip Girl.
What are your tips for writing an attention grabbing query letter?
Write a basic, standard query first and then play around with it. There are no rules for a query other than it should make the agent want to read the book. Don’t get all gimmicky or cutesy – it’s a turn-off, but don’t feel committed to following some form letter because a website tells you it’s the “right” way. As long as you are professional and you include the necessary information, you can play around with the synopsis of your story. Also try to stick to the first 30-50 pages of story rather than trying to condense your whole novel into two paragraphs. Your beginning is where you hook your reader, use it to hook an agent.
Can you tell us a little more about the sequels to Crewel?
Wouldn’t you like to know. Actually, I am ridiculously secretive about storylines. My poor husband can’t even read my synopsis for book two, because I don’t want to spoil anything. I can say the stakes get higher, the romance gets steamier, and no one is quite what they seemed to be!
If you were a Spinster, would you use your powers for good or evil?
That’s hard, because Spinsters can do some pretty amazing things, but since I get so bent out of shape over the injustices of the world, I’d have to say good. But maybe I’d be wicked occasionally.
What was the inspiration behind Crewel?
I’ve always been fascinated by the painting Embroidering the Earth’s Mantle by Remedios Varo, which shows a group of girls embroidering the reality of Earth. I started playing with that idea and the idea of the fabric of life and created a world where women could actually do that.
What’s your top tip for all aspiring authors?
Stop feeling guilty for writing. It seems like everyone thinks writing is selfish because it takes time away from work or family or friends or housework. Yes, it may take some time to reprioritize your life but writing is about self-fulfillment first, and that’s okay!
Find more about Genn and her novel CREWEL here: