In an interview for Writers’ Forum #195 Jan 2018, Kathryn Evans told me how a good agent supports you through the ups and downs.
She followed her agent, Sophie Hicks from Ed Victor Ltd when she set up her own agency, the Sophie Hicks Agency. Kathryn revealed Sophie was amazing at picking her up when she’s down and always fighting her corner.
Kathryn originally sent her a picture book, which she turned down. So she tried again with a YA novel called Skin. Sophie rang her to have a chat and when she offered to represent her, she was stunned . However, that book just didn’t sell – who knows why, sometimes things just aren’t quite right for the market or the moment. Kathryn wrote a couple of other things too – one of them Sophie wasn’t keen on and the other, Kathryn panicked about and asked her to withdraw as she had lost my nerve.
For a while Kathryn stopped writing. She told me she went to see Sophie about it and she was brilliant, she basically said she honestly believed they’d get there, she backed her 100%, which inspired her to set to work with an idea I’d had. That idea was the beginnings of More of Me.
Kathryn explained she wrote the first draft of More of Me quite fast. It is about a girl who replicates herself once a year and the version that is left behind is stuck at that age forever. She has to hand over her life to the new Teva – best friend, boyfriend and all her plans for the future. It makes for some interesting dynamics at home! She had a scruffy first draft within eight months of coming up with the idea. She revealed as part of her writing process she uses Scrivener to sort her first draft.
“Scrivener allows me to see what’s in each chapter and where it comes, at a glance. I have a header line and a brief synopsis for each chapter so I know what comes where – it makes it so easy to physically switch scenes around. Also you can flag up issues by making notes as you go ‘more of x here’ or ‘go back and change x to fit with this’.”Kathryn Evans
Kathryn told me she probably does four or five full edits before she sends the manuscript to Sophie. A pass for structure – is the pace right, is the tension right, has each chapter got a hook, is every scene driving the action forward. Then a pass for character and another for relationships and finally, one to see if she is really dealing with the heart of her story. She explained that in More of Me, it was ultimately about identity.
Whilst her agent submitted More of Me she got on with a new book. Kathryn explained it is the only way and important if you are intending to build up a career from your writing.
“More of Me sold really quickly. It had taken so long, years and years, I could hardly believe it. I ran out to find my husband then and cried all over him. He probably though the dog had died or something. It was an amazing mix of joy and relief and validation.”Kathryn Evans
Kathryn proclaims having an agent who has faith in you, helps overcome any nagging doubts. Her advice to authors who have been taken on by an agent but are still waiting to be discovered is to be professional – trust your agent to get on with their job – selling your work – while you get on with yours – writing the best books you can.
“My writing really came together when I let myself be me. When you start out you’re trying lots of styles, it’s hard to find your own voice. I realised my own voice was exactly that – my own. The sum total of all I’d read and all I wanted to write about. I wrote it out as an equation for a blog post:
(Hardy5 + Bronte3) x (Asimov2 + Wyndham2) x Orwell5 + (King2/Rennison6) = Evans
And that’s me, my style: Contemporary thrillers with strong relationships, a sci-fi twist and a spoonful of horror.”Kathryn Evans
You need to find your own voice by being yourself.
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You can buy copies of Kathryn Evans’ books, More of me and Beauty Sleep from your local bookshop, or online at uk.bookshop.org, an organisation with a mission to financially support local, independent bookshops.