Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Bethany Weaver Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 6/26/2024
  • Rebecca Williamson Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 7/8/2024
  • Sheila Fernley Agent Spotlight Interview, Critique Giveaway, and One-Hour Zoom Call on 7/29/2024
  • Erica McGrath Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 8/12/2024

Agent Spotlight & Agent Spotlight Updates

  • Agent Spotlights & Interviews have been updated through the letter "K" as of 3/28/2024 and many have been reviewed by the agents. Look for more information as I find the time to update more agent spotlights.


First, I’m going to announce the winner of THE HOT LIST by Hillary Homzie. The winner is:


And the winner of the ARC of POSSESSION by Elana Johnson is:


Congrats! E-mail me your addresses so that I can have your books mailed to you.

One of the things I love about the Internet and blogging is that you can meet amazing authors all over the world. Today I’m interviewing Karen Mahoney, who is from England. Her debut YA novel THE IRON WITCH came out February 8, 2011.

Here's a blurb of the story from Goodreads:

Freak. That's what her classmates call seventeen-year-old Donna Underwood. When she was seven, a horrific fey attack killed her father and drove her mother mad. Donna's own nearly fatal injuries from the assault were fixed by magic—the iron tattoos branding her hands and arms. The child of alchemists, Donna feels cursed by the magical heritage that destroyed her parents and any chance she had for a normal life. The only thing that keeps her sane and grounded is her relationship with her best friend, Navin Sharma.

When the darkest outcasts of Faerie—the vicious wood elves—abduct Navin, Donna finally has to accept her role in the centuries old war between the humans and the fey. Assisted by Xan, a gorgeous half-fey dropout with secrets of his own, Donna races to save her friend—even if it means betraying everything her parents and the alchemist community fought to the death to protect.

Hi Karen. Thanks so much for joining us.

1. Tell us a little about yourself and your book. How long did it take you to write it?

Hello! *waves* Very nice to be here. Okay, so writing THE IRON WITCH was interesting, because it actually started out as my project for an ‘unofficial’ NaNoWriMo. Instead of signing up and doing it all officially, and instead of aiming to write 50,000 words in a month, me and two of my writing friends decided to try 30,000 words in the month. We cheered each other on and, as things turned out… I ended up hitting 50K in 30 days, anyway. I’ve never written that much so quickly before, and I think it was because this book was just ready to come out. Of course, it wasn’t finished then – I continued writing into December and finished the first draft just before Christmas. I then spent months revising! But that first draft was fast. I’d been thinking about the story since the previous May, and I’d been doing research and making notes, so it’s not like it just came out of nowhere.

2. Wow! I’m amazed you wrote the first draft so quickly. And what a great idea to do a unofficial NaNoWriMo. Can you talk about the making of THE IRON WITCH that you discuss at the end of your book? I found it fascinating.

I was lucky to get the chance to write that article – sort of like an ‘afterword’ to the book. Flux had some space left over once they’d typeset the book, so I had a good few pages to play with. We were going to do an interview, but then I had the idea to write a piece about ‘The Making of The Iron Witch’ and sort of tell more about the folklore and research I did before writing the book. I am fascinated by the Handless Maiden tales, and those combined with my interest in alchemy combined to help me come up with Donna’s iron tattoos and the wider world that she’s a part of.

3. I loved the iron tattoos. It was such a unique magical talent. (And okay guys, if you can’t already tell, I really loved this book.) You live in London, but chose to create the world of Ironbridge in the United States. What made you decide to do that? Did you do any special research to create your world?

Honestly, I never even thought about setting THE IRON WITCH in the UK. That sounds strange, considering it’s my home (and has been my whole life), but I’ve always loved the US and it makes sense for me to write stories set there. I’m particularly fond of New England—specifically Boston—so I created my own city (more like a large town), Ironbridge, and set it in Massachusetts. It’s a mash-up of everything I love about Boston and London; Ironbridge Common is a badly disguised Boston Common! :) There’s a small town in England called Ironbridge—which is where I got the name from—and it has an actual iron bridge which is a real landmark. It’s a very historical place, and I liked the idea of creating my own, bigger version and transporting it across the Atlantic.

4. Your agent is Miriam Kriss at Irene Goodman Literary Agency. What made you decide to go with an agent in the United States rather than in Britain?

I think because, at the time I was querying agents (2008), there was still more interest in the US market for urban fantasy than in the UK. That has changed now—and surprisingly quickly!—but even just 3 years ago the US seemed like a better home for my work. I particularly wanted an agent who loves urban/contemporary fantasy (for both adults and young adults), and Miriam Kriss seemed like the perfect fit.

5. I’ve read lots of good reviews and buzz about THE IRON WITCH on blogs. How did you market your book in the United States? Did you find any challenges to doing that since you don’t live here?

Thanks to the wonders of the internet, it’s really no trouble at all. I’ve done online promo—interviews and guest blog posts, for example—but I have always been very active online. I started blogging at the beginning of 2007, so I think that helped build a bit of an audience before the book came out. I particularly love Twitter (I’m @kazmahoney), and really enjoy chatting with people there. Also, I’d already had two short stories published in popular anthologies (THE ETERNAL KISS and KISS ME DEADLY), and although they’re unrelated to THE IRON WITCH that probably gave me a bit more leverage.

6. I know THE IRON WITCH is part of a trilogy. Is there anything you’ve learned about writing a trilogy that you share with us aspiring authors? When is THE WOOD QUEEN coming out?

Well, writing a trilogy is obviously a first for me, too! ;) Not forgetting the fact that we initially sold only two books, and the third book sale came later after it became clear that THE IRON WITCH would do pretty well. Still, in my mind it was always going to be a trilogy, simply because I love them so much. I’d say the biggest thing I’ve learned so far is to make sure that the middle book doesn’t suffer from just being there to set-up everything to come in Book 3. THE STONE DEMON won’t be out until 2013, and I need to remember to focus all my attention on THE WOOD QUEEN and make sure this book is fully satisfying in itself—while also setting some things up for the finale. It’s a tricky balancing act, but if you keep it in mind that will probably help you.

Thanks Karen. I can’t wait to read THE WOOD QUEEN, which comes out in February 2012. You can visit Karen at her blog and her website.

I have a fabulous giveaway today. I’m giving away one copy of THE IRON WITCH. Sob, sob, because I really don’t want to give it up. But I will. And Karen generously offered to send the person a signed bookplate for my book and also give away a signed copy of her book. So you have TWO chances to win a signed copy of the book. All you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment by midnight on April 30th. I’ll announce the winner on May 2nd. International entries are welcome.

I hope you’ll come back on May 2nd when I interview Janice Hardy about her books THE SHIFTER and BLUE FIRE

And don’t forget the WriteOnCon live query event with Jessica Sinsheimer at the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency tonight at 8:00 pm EST/5:00 pm Pacific time. I’ll be there and hope you will be too.


Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks Karen for joining us. I'm so excited to share about your book.

Kristin Lenz said...

I'm intrigued! And interested in the research and folklore behind the story. Thanks for sharing.

Judit said...

Oh, I'd love to have a chance to read The Iron Witch!
Thank you for the interview and for the giveaway. Fingers crossed! :)

Paula said...

Great interview.

I LOVE the cover and enjoyed learning how Karen created her "town."

Look forward to reading all three.

Bidisha said...

What a fine interview! I'd love the chance to win The Iron Witch. Been seeing it around blogosphere, and this interview has me sold.
The fact that it's about alchemy..can it get better? I was totally obsessed with alchemy once!

Thank you for being so kind about the giveaway :)

S.A. Larsenッ said...

Fantastic interview, Karen! The book is on my TBR list. Would love to win! Thanks Natalie and Casey!

Lindsay Cummings author said...

thanks!! i love love love this cover.

americangirlie1991 AT yahoo DOT com

Casey McCormick said...

Great interview Natalie and Karen.

This book sounds so awesome!! I've had my eye on it, and now I want it even more.

Congrats Karen!

bfav said...

Great interview, great cover. Fingers crossed.

Laura Pauling said...

This really was a terrific interview! And now I can't wait to read it since you two both have so much enthusiasm for it! :)

Lori M. Lee said...

Wonderful interview and thanks so much, Natalie, for giving up your signed copy. I've heard great things about this book!

Karen Mahoney said...

Thanks again to Natalie for having me! It was truly a pleasure - one of my favourite interview. :)

If anybody has questions at all, I'd be happy to answer here in comments over the next couple of days.


Karen Mahoney said...

Oh, and sorry to mess up your comments - thanks to Casey too! I should've said that before.

Hope everyone had a lovely Easter weekend...


KatieC said...

Great interview! Sounds very interesting, and I can't wait to read all 3!


Sarah said...

This looks fantastic -- just exactly the type of book I love.

Vivien said...

I love the cover for this book. I really want to understand the meaning behind it. Thanks for the awesome giveaway!!
GFC follower

deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

Katharina Gerlach said...

Great interview, plus it is one of those books I'd love to win.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks Karen for stopping by and commenting. And thanks to everyone who entered the contest so far.

Pam Harris said...

Sounds like such a cool series. Thanks for the contest. :)

Christina Farley said...

What an interesting interview about your journey as a writer. I'm impressed how quick you wrote the book!

Stephsco said...

I enjoyed reading this. I'm currently editing a draft I wrote from NaNoWriMo. I'm not sure if anything will ever come of it, but it's been a fabulous experience to have a full-length novel draft that is at least on its way to be a cohesive piece. I've heard many good things about your book. Best wishes!

Bethany C Morrow said...

Can't wait to read this!

The Writer Librarian said...

This book looks like a great read. And great artwork on the cover. I saw it on sale at Barnes and Noble and was immediately intrigued.

Michael G-G said...

You guys are doing awesome interviews and running amazing contests. I loved hearing about The Iron Witch, and am looking forward to your interview with Janice Hardy!

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Congratulations on the trilogy, Karen. I love the cover of The Iron Witch!

Great interview. :)

Victoria Dixon said...

Okay, I usually avoid stuff written in the U.S., but since I've been to both Boston and Ironbridge (the real one), I have to read this book! It sounds fascinating. Thanks for the review, Natalie!

donnas said...

Great interview. Ive been looking forward to reading this one, sounds great. So glad to hear there will be more. Thanks for the chance to read it.

Im a follower

bacchus76 at myself dot com

Sharli said...

I'd love to read this! Sounds like an awesome book :D
I never really thought about that balance authors have to keep between book 2 and 3 of a trilogy but now that she mentions it, it sounds harder than I thought.

Thanks for the interview and giveaway!

Myrna Foster said...

I hadn't heard of Karen or The Iron Witch, so thanks for the interview. It sounds interesting.

And I'm looking forward to next week's interview. There are few beginnings that have captured my interest the way The Shifter's did.

leeron94 said...

Wow... I'm not usually interested in these kinds of books, but this one sounds like I'd actually really enjoy it. Great interview!

Kiki Hamilton said...

I love this interview, Karen and Natalie. The Iron Witch is in my teetering TBR pile and I must get to it - it totally sounds like my kind of story!!!

And I love that you set it in the US. It's sort of the reverse of me setting mine in London. ;-)

Donea Lee said...

I was drawn to the title alone - and of course the interview makes me want to read more! Congrats to Karen on the success of your book. And thanks, Natalie, for the interview and opportunity to win a copy. I want!! :)

Renae said...

Great interview ladies! I love, love, love this book. A definate must read!

Lisa Potts said...

I've heard a lot of great buzz about this one and you did such a great interview!

Thanks for the chance to win.

whispering words said...

such a beautiful cover and a great interview! this book is deff going on the wish list!

Mysteriousrose said...

Great blog and great interview. Thank you for sharing. I would love a chance to read The Iron Witch.

I'm an old GFC follower (Mysteriousrose)



Karen Mahoney said...

Thanks once again to everyone who commented. :) Some of you are curious about the cover, and there's a great piece about how it came about here on Melissa Walker's blog: