Thursday, January 5, 2012

Query Trackers Making Tracks, #14

Today is installment number fourteen of my "first Friday of the month" series on successful authors from QueryTracker. Some of my guests have agents, others have found success in less conventional ways. But one thing they all have in common is the utilization of the QueryTracker website to help make their tracks in the publishing world.

Today I'm extra excited because my guest is Claire Merle from the beautiful city of love: Paris, France.

You heard right! My interview is going international, yo! (◕‿-) Actually, I've had one other author from London way back in the beginning phases of this interview series. Just goes to show how far reaching QueryTracker is and proves that a truly amazing idea backed by inspiring and enthusiastic people has no bounds.

Claire's book has already sold to Faber and Faber and is coming out in the UK June 2012! You can pre-order it right now from UK amazon, waterstones, and WHSmith.)

AGH: Welcome Claire! Could you give us a quick summary of the book which snagged your agent?

CM: THE GLIMPSE: In a near future society is segregated according to whether people are genetically disposed to mental illness. 17-year-old Ana has been living the privileged life of a Pure due to an error in her DNA test. When the authorities find out, she faces banishment from her safe Community, a fate only thwarted by the fact that she has already been promised to Pure-boy Jasper Taurell. Jasper is from a rich and influential family and despite Ana’s condition, wants to be with her. The authorities grant Ana a tentative reprieve. If she is joined to Jasper before her 18th birthday, she may stay in the Community until her illness manifests. But if Jasper changes his mind, she will be cast out among the Crazies. As Ana’s joining ceremony and her birthday loom closer, she dares to hope she will be saved from the horror of the City and live a ‘normal’ life. But then Jasper disappears.

AGH: Before you signed with your agent, how many books had you tried to query?

CM: I’d written and queried one book prior to The Glimpse.

AGH: What were the responses to those queries (stat-wise: fulls, partials, etc.)?

CM: I queried my first book long before I found QT and I knew very little about the process. I didn’t really keep stats or anything. I probably queried around thirty agents. From those I received 2 full requests and a phone call, but didn’t land an agent.

AGH: What genre(s) do you write?

CM: Young adult. Within that genre, I’m particularly drawn to sci-fi, fantasy and stories with a paranormal twist.

AGH: What inspired your very first book idea?

CM: I wrote my first full-length screenplay when I was thirteen and though it wasn’t a book, I’d say it was my first real effort to tell a ‘big’ story: Two best friends awake a malignant spirit that gives them the power to speak mentally to each other, but also leaves them running for their lives. I guess I’ve always been drawn to danger, adventure, the paranormal and psychological.

AGH: How do you come up with titles?

CM: Usually, when I start a project the title just seems to come at the same time as the ideas. Though sometimes I rework the title once I’ve finished a first draft and know more about my story.

AGH: What books / authors have most influenced your own style and concepts?

CM: Personally, I’m not sure I can be objective enough about my own writing style to give you any sort of definitive answer to that. I think an author’s style and concepts probably come as much from who they are, what they believe, what sort of questions they’re asking, and the experiences that have shaped the way they see the world, as anything else. Though I’m imagine along the way I’ve also picked up techniques and absorbed various elements from the stories that have had the greatest impact on me.

Some of those books include,

Favourite books pre-teens: ‘The Faraway Tree’ by Enid Blyton, ‘Ballet Shoes’ by Noel Streatfeild, ‘The Hounds of the Morrigan’ by Pat O’Shea.

Favourite books as a teenager: ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ by Margaret Atwood, ‘Rebecca’ by Daphne du Maurier, ‘Pride and Prejudice’ Jane Austen.

Recent favs include: ‘The Sky is Everywhere’ by Jandy Nelson, ‘Fingersmith’ by Sarah Waters, ‘Hunger Games’ by Suzanne Collins, ‘The Gift’ by Alison Croggon. (Better known as The Naming in the US.)

AGH: How did you find QueryTracker, and how did it help you in your effort to get inside the publishing doors?

CM: I think I found Query Tracker through googling for agent information. QTs amazing forum helped me work and rework my query, get feedback on my first chapter, and introduced me to many wonderful writers – two of whom critiqued my whole manuscript before I sent it out. That sort of help is priceless.

AGH: Do you have any current news to announce?

CM: Yes, some very exciting news! Next week, Faber are launching online Open Auditions for a series of fictional video diaries that will be a prequel to The Glimpse. The videos will centre around a character from the book – 16-year-old Tamsin Strike – and anyone in the UK from 13 upwards will be eligible to audition. The videos will be shot by an award-winning British director in the Spring. So if you want to be the first to know when The Glimpse facebook page launches (sometime during the second week in Jan) with all the hows, whens, and wheres about auditioning, follow my author facebook page where I’ll be giving you the links and the most up-to-date info. I'll also be running an international giveaway for anyone who is kind enough to help spread the word.

Here's the linkage:

**Five for fun**

AGH: In your opinion, what was the best thing before sliced bread?

CM: Hey, I live in Paris where they have baguettes and fresh, chunky loaves which I prefer to sliced bread, so I’m not convinced about the whole sliced bread thing!

AGH: Which would you rather do: carry an umbrella or sing in the rain?

CM: I’ve never been one for carrying an umbrella. Way too practical. I’d go for singing in the rain.

AGH: What’s your favorite breakfast?

CM: Coffee with whatever story I’m working on.

AGH: Are you Team Dog or Team Cat?

CM: Grew up with a cat, which I adored. But I think I’d like to try Team Dog now.

AGH: When would you go to if you had a time machine, and why?

CM: 150 years into the future. Wow! I’d love to see that!! And then I’d write a book about it.

Thanks so much for having me on your blog!


And thank you so much for coming, Claire! Two things, your premise sounds INCREDIBLE, and WOW on the promo-videos! If anyone out there knows a teen girl who's been looking to break into acting, this would be an excellent start! And if you're on twitter, please tweet Claire up so we can pass on the word!

Also, you can find Claire at these online haunts:


Thanks everyone for stopping by. Have a happy and safe weekend, and see you next week!


  1. Great to hear a success story. "The Glimpse" has me intrigued, and I love the idea of the video diaries!

  2. Awesome interview! I can't wait to read The Glimpse.

  3. Thanks - these making tracks blogs are just awesome. They keep me focused on the goal.

  4. Thanks for the interest and support guys!

  5. I'd read it, and not just because it could count as research for a story idea I have rolling around (with all the others). I love the dystopians where you could actually see it happening. We already have a pretty big stigma attached to mental illness, so given a big enough push, I can imagine a society where people who could suffer from a mental illness are forced out. Now the book just needs to get published in the UK so I can get my hands on it! Thanks for sharing, Anita.

  6. I love that you're following QT success stories of ALL kinds. Great interview. Thank you, Claire and Anita.

  7. CD~ Thanks for coming by! I know, it's amazing that a publisher will go to those lengths. They have great faith in this book!

    Lisa~ Nice to meet you! It's a wonderful premise, right?

    Jane~ I'm so glad you like these interviews! I love meeting new authors and hearing about their journeys.

    Claire~ Thank you again for coming by. I love your collection of fave books!

    Sophia~ Hello my Goblin Market girl! Oooh, now I want to hear about your story idea. Hee. Can't wait till you get it written out so you can tell us about it! Thanks for stopping in!

    Bethany~ Aw, thanks! It's a lot of fun meeting fellow QTers on different paths.

  8. Sophia -- It's coming out in the UK in June! (And you can already pre-order it from plenty of UK places like amazon, waterstones and WHSmith.)

    Bethany -- Big wave! Great to 'see' you here!

  9. Anita- Well the idea has to wait in line, and it's one that scares me (in a good way, I guess) so it might be a while before I feel ready to write it. Thanks for the encouragement, though!

    Claire- So glad I came back to check the comments. Off to find your book now!

  10. Sophia~ I have a book idea like that. It's one that I can't let myself write until I think I've grown enough as a writer. And I'm not quite there yet. So I FEEL you. :)

    Claire~ I'm so sorry! I should've had that about your book coming out in the interview intro. It has been ammended, and you're up all weekend, (still tweeting you up) so hopefully you'll get more hits!

  11. Claire, you've stolen my heart!! You are an absolute delight and your book sounds amazing! And the trailers...WHAT?!!?? No jealousy here--hee.

    I agree, a nice, crispy baguette is better than a slice of any bread!

  12. LOL! Rookstar, I knew you'd be impressed with this lady and her amazing story idea!

    Thanks for stopping by!

  13. THANK YOU, Bethany! I actually have a film background, (BA Hons in Film Studies and 8 years working in the British Film Industry) so these videos are totally 'my thing' -- really excited about them! I also desperately wanted to become an actress when I was 16 and I love the fact that this project will give someone of that age a chance to have an experience like this!

  14. A special shout out to the hostess of this blog--I love your new photo. So pretty...

  15. Wow! :) I love your interview. I hope to be a success story from QT. I found that site a few months ago and wish I'd found it before I started querying. No one tells you the most fundamental part of writing is having critique partners that can see past all your doubts and nerves and assess your work with fresh eyes.
    Love your blog. New follower ;)


  16. Hey again, Jade! Congrats on finding QT! It's the best thing that ever happened to my writing, other than my query partners. If/when you get your agent or publishing deal, let me know and I'd love to have you over for an interview. :)

    Thank you for the follow, too! I look forward to hanging out w/you in blogland.