Congratulations to William Brashears, who signed with Lori Galvin from Aevitas Creative Management for his crime fiction manuscript, SLUMLORD.
1. Tell me about your writing journey. Did you query books before the one you signed with your agent? How many books/how many years, etc?
I’ve been writing for about ten years. I first got interested in writing after taking screenwriting and film courses in community college. I fell in love with film and wrote scripts. I eventually started getting short stories published in the school magazine. I wrote my first novel manuscript at twenty-two. That was the first time I ever researched how the publishing industry works. I’ve queried two novels, a middle grade book, and a horror novella to agents in the past.
2. Was there anything you’d point to as a turning point or turning points where you really leveled up your writing?
I think finding out what my taste was as a consumer of art helped me write more authentically. Finding out what themes really resonate with me has given me something to aim for with my characters. Friendship. Loyalty. Sacrifice. Huge themes for me. Also being more open to feedback than I was when I was younger helps a lot. Unless it was praise, I wasn’t really interested in feedback on my work. That led to me sending out a lot of stories that weren’t ready.
3. How did you find the agent who eventually offered?
I found Manuscript Wishlist several years ago. It can be an overwhelming amount of information but I think it’s a great tool.
4. Tell me about the call. How did you know this agent was the right fit for you?
The call with my agent was great. I was a bit nervous. She was familiar with the area my story takes place in and she liked the voice. I definitely took to advantage of the opportunity to ask her about what being an agent is like. Most importantly I think she understood the tone of the story much like you did during your edits.
5. You don’t just write novel-length fiction. You’ve also had some success with short stories. Tell me about that!
I’ve tried just about everything. I written feature-length screenplays, TV pilots, novels, comic scripts and short stories. At least I can say I’ve experienced years of rejection in multiple storytelling mediums. Short stories are something I’ve done consistently. They give me a sense of accomplishment. Submittable is a good resource for finding contest, literary magazines and anthologies with open submissions. I even found a comic publisher called Ahoy Comics, that published short prose in the back matter of every issue.
A few years ago, I was all in on breaking into comics. I wrote a series. I commissioned art. It didn’t work out. At the time I had the seed of an idea for the current novel I’m working on but no desire to sit down and write it. Instead, I wrote a short story that was personal to me. It was the summer of 2020 and a really difficult year. I didn’t think I had anything worth saying about the state of the world, but I still had something to say.
I sent it out in the fall, and I got the acceptance email from The Reservoir Road Literary Review in the winter. The story came out February 2021 and then BOOM! Ahoy Comics bought one of my stories after rejecting me like eight times. So short stories keep me motivated. I honestly don’t think I would have tried to tackle another novel manuscript without these victories.
6. What’s your top tip for other querying writers?
Everyone is different but what works for me is listening to podcasts about writing. There’s a few that I like. I’m a Writer But. The Shit No One Tells You About Writing. Queries, Qualms and Quirks. These podcasts help me with keeping a realistic perspective on things and they also can be really inspiring.
William Brashears lives in New Hampshire. His short fiction has been published by The Reservoir Road Literary Review and Ahoy Comics. He is represented by Lori Galvin of Aevitas Creative Management.