Interview with Debut Author Hilary Wagner

Hilary Wagner is the debut author of NIGHTSHADE CITY, a middle grade fantasy novel about a unique colony of rats, coming October 2010 by Holiday House Books. She is represented by fantastic agent, Marietta Zacker of Nancy Gallt.

Since this blog is about offering inspiration to writers and artists, my first question for you is, do you have a favorite quote? If so, why is it your favorite?

I don’t have a quote, but I’ve always tried to tell other writers,
“It only takes one yes. You could query 200 agents and after 199 rejections, the 200th agent could say yes—same goes for publishers.”
By the time the Nancy Gallt Agency offered me representation I had banked about 175 rejections. Had I not landed an agent at that time, I’d have most certainly passed the 200 mark and kept on querying from there! Like I said, it only takes one yes! It can and does happen!

If you could pick one character that you’ve created that you feel you relate to the most, which one would it be and why?
It would have to be one of Nightshade’s heroes, Juniper. He’s confident, protective, and strong and always has a mischievous twinkle in his eye. Overall the kind of person (well, rat in this case) I would want to be associated with. Someone I’d want in my family. I wish he were real so we could talk and he could give me his sage advice when I needed it!

Who has had the biggest influence on you in your writing career? What have they done to encourage you?
I started writing on my own—in secret. My husband didn’t even know I was writing until I was halfway through Nightshade City and finally spilled the beans and asked him to read it. He said his first thought was, what do I tell her if it stinks? Needless to say, he didn’t think that! Since then, Eric has been my rock. He’s read every manuscript I’ve ever written and gives me great insight, not to mention he talks me off the ledge when I get nervous or worried about anything that has to do with my pending release.

If you could be any super hero, who would it be?
First choice: I would love to be a female version of Thor! I love the history behind Thor. He’s a Greek God, pretty cool! I love the outfit and it would be awesome to carry around that menacing hammer! Second choice (but only for one day): SpongeBob SquarePants, though he doesn’t really qualify as a super hero! I would love to have a pet snail and have always wanted to try a Krabby Patty!

What did you want to be growing up? Now that you’re an author did this come as a surprise?
I hold a Bachelors in Painting. I’ve shown my work in major cities for years. I always thought that was my path. I wrote throughout my youth and once I picked it up again I couldn’t stop if you paid me! It means everything. I have a few unfinished paintings I started back when I began writing Nightshade City. I have a strange feeling they will remain happily unfinished.

If you could pick one word to describe yourself, what would it be?
Determined!
What’s the best piece of advice you can give aspiring writers?
NEVER purposefully write for a trend. I think writers do themselves a serious disservice by doing so. By the time your manuscript is finished and ready to be submitted to an agent or editor that trend you wrote for will be out on its ear or on its way there, but say for example you love vampires and are compelled to write about them, then you should—just make those vampires so unique and extraordinary no one in their right mind could say no! Passion is everything and when you’re forcing yourself to write about something popular, hoping you’ll get noticed by an agent or editor, chances are the magic just won’t be there. I had a passion for rats. I wrote about them. I got published. I was told by several agents that my novel would be a hard sell to editors because of the genre, it took me thirteen months to land an agent (who rocks by the way) and she sold Nightshade City in less than eight weeks. I think that’s a pretty happy ending!

And a VERY happy ending indeed!  Thank you Hilary and we can not wait to read about these awesome rats, especially after watching your great trailer .  If you would like to find out more about Hilary Wagner you can visit her very poplar blog or her website here.

9 comments

  1. Great article. I didn't know you painted, Hilary. And how could anyone doubt that people would love your rats? I LOVED the Secret of Nimh as a kid, and still do.

  2. Wow Hilary that is a HUGE compliment =D Thank you, thank you a million times over. I'm going to buy like 10 of your books and pass them out at my sons school, love you much:) XO

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