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.


Today I’m so excited to be interviewing Beth Revis. Her book, ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, was released in January 2011 and was on the New York Bestseller List. I don’t usually read science fiction, but I was immediately sucked into the story. One of the amazing things is that Beth has created such a fascinating world on a space ship.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.
Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone-one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship-tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.
Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.

Hi Beth. Thanks so much for joining us.

1. Tell us a little about yourself and your book.

I’m just an everyday kind of person, nothing really interesting about me  I live in rural North Carolina with my husband and my dog, a big black Lab named Sirius. My book, ACROSS THE UNIVERSE is a murder mystery set in space, telling the story of Amy, a girl from Earth, who is cryogenically frozen to be with her parents on an interstellar mission. When she wakes up fifty years early in a foiled murder attempt, though, she has to figure out who unplugged her…before whoever it is unplugs her parents.

2. I’ve read that you had many other books in your drawer and were contemplating quitting writing if this book didn’t sell. How did you get the idea for this story and did you have any idea that this was the one that would get you your agent and sell?

I have ten trunk novels—nearly all of which I tried to get published. I was very frustrated by the time I finished writing ACROSS THE UNIVERSE. I just didn’t understand why I’d been writing for so long and writing so much and nothing had been published yet. But when I finished ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, I did feel that there was something special about this manuscript. Writing it was like magic—it flowed, and I reveled in the language as well as the story. I knew it was the best thing I’d ever written and that if it didn’t sell, I had no business writing.

3. We should all remember Beth’s experiences and have faith that it’ll happen for us too. You have an incredibly detailed map of the ship on the inside of the book cover. When did you design the ship in relation to your first draft? What challenges did you face in creating your world on a ship?

Somewhere around the first hundred pages of the book or so, I got out a legal notepad (my preferred brainstorming method) and drew a VERY rough sketch of the ship—it was seriously just a circle with some notes on it. After I signed with Razorbill, my publisher asked for the sketch and took it to a whole new level with the blueprint design!

4. That’s so awesome. You tell your story from Amy’s and Elder’s points of view. How did you develop their characters? Is there any of you in either of them? Did you find it more challenging because they literally come from completely different worlds?

I didn’t find it more challenging to write from such different points of view—I loved it! It was so much fun!! But even though they are so different, there is a little bit of me in each of them. Amy’s need for her parents and fear of waking up without them were pulled from my own fear of moving away to college far away from my family when I was still pretty young (I was 17). Elder’s desire to prove that he was worthy as a leader of the ship and fears that he wasn’t good enough definitely stemmed from my own desires to be published and fear that my writing wasn’t good enough.

5. You’ve already written the second book in the series. Did you have it planned out when you wrote ACROSS THE UNIVERSE? What did you learn about writing a series from writing this one? Do you have any advice for us aspiring authors trying to create a trilogy?

I just finished the second book, A MILLION SUNS, but I’ve not even touched the third book of the trilogy yet…the only thing I’ve written on it is the title!

ACROSS THE UNIVERSE started as a standalone novel. I didn’t change the ending—I always wrote it with a somewhat ambiguous ending, leaving it open to the reader to decide what happened to Amy and Elder. But in talking with my agent, I figured out a way to extend the story in a way that would fit a trilogy.

Writing the second book was very difficult because it wasn’t a part of my original plan. But I do believe that, as with any writing, you’re just developing a logical “what happened next.” Stay true to the characters, and you can write any number of books.

6. That’s great advice. Now let’s move on the business aspect of writing. Can you tell us about your road to publication and any struggles along the way?

Well, there were the ten trunk novels that never got published! I feel like an expert on queries—I’ve written them for nearly all the ten trunk novels and have the hundreds of rejections to prove it.

Some of my struggles include:
(a) get my writing up to snuff—I don’t think my writing was bad, per se, but I do know that my writing improved with time.
(b) Writing something marketable—I don’t think you should dictate how and what you write from the market, but there are two of my trunk novels that I can look at now and realize they will never sell merely because there is no market for them.

I think the best thing to do as a writer—or, at least, the best thing for me to do to overcome these struggles—was to find good, trustworthy critique partners.

7. What have you learned about what works and what doesn’t work marketing-wise from the release of ACROSS THE UNIVERSE? Do you have any tips on what debut authors should definitely do to market our book when it’s released?

Heh. In my last answer I said to write something marketable. But you know what I learned from ACROSS THE UNIVERSE? Don’t worry too much about the market. I thought it was going to be a huge struggle to sell it—it was sci fi, and there wasn’t sci fi in the YA market at the time. When I was querying, I went to my local bookstore and library and asked them for YA sci fi—the only thing I got was ENDER’S GAME and THE HOST—that was the extent of the selection. I was terrified when I started querying that no one would want the book because it was set in space…and in some cases, I was right. I got a couple of rejections that flatly said “space sci fi doesn’t sell in YA.” But then I got acceptances, too.

So, the short answer: if your book is good enough, you don’t have to worry about the market.

As for what debut authors can do to market their titles: the number one thing for any author to remember is that they are a writer first, not a marketer. I do think that a writer should have a website—they should be able to control the information on their own books online. It should be professional looking and easy to read and find information on. Do you need a blog, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, or anything else? No. If you enjoy them and want to connect to your readers—sure, go ahead. But it’s not necessary.

8. It’s good to know that the website is essential and you can do the other social marketing as you feel comfortable. What are you working on now?

I’m working on the final edits to A MILLION SUNS, the sequel to AtU, and then I’m turning to the last novel in the trilogy. I’m also just now playing around with a new idea for a book that I rather like…

9. When will the next two books in your series be released?

They should each be released the following year. So: A MILLION SUNS will be out early 2012, and the third and last book out 2013.

Thanks so much Beth for all your advice. And good luck. You can visit Beth at her website and her blog. I’ve been following her blog for a long time and really recommend it.

I’m giving away one copy of ACROSS THE UNIVERSE. And Beth agreed to send the winner a signed bookplate. 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 June 4thth. I’ll announce the winner on June 6th. International entries are welcome.

Don’t forget on June 6th, I’ll be having a BIG debut party for Elana Johnson. Her book POSSESSION comes out on June 7th. There will a BIG giveaway! Please come back and make it special for Elana. She’s such an awesome person who has helped so many of us on our road to publication. Let’s show her how much we appreciate it by supporting her on her special day.

And hope to see you next Monday.


Ann Finkelstein said...

Great to see you here, Beth. Thanks for the inspiring interview.

Liz Reinhardt said...

Fantastic interview!

Beth - I just finished your book a few days ago and LOVED it! I absolutely fell in love with the realistic feeling of claustrophobia that defined the book (in a physical and emotional sense)that made it feel like you were sharing the characters' experiences; I've read some space books that don't really have that feeling of being in the infinite, but being confined, and I think that's a really vital idea that planet-bound humans can get into! Setting felt like a whole other character to me. Really well done, Beth! Can't wait for the sequel...

S.A. Larsenッ said...

Fangtabulous interview, Natalie!! Beth is wonderful. So happy for her successes. :)

Jennifer Shirk said...

Loved hearing more about Beth's writing journey! Great interview!

~Enamored Soul~ said...

Thank you SO much for the amazing interview, and I loved reading about Beth's journey to where she is now. I absolutely adore her, and love interacting with her on her blog and Twitter - she so extremely sweet.

Also, thank you SO very much for the giveaway - I've been pining away to read her book!

GFC Follower: ~Enamored Soul~
Email: Enamoredsoul(at)gmail(dot)com

Christine Sarmel said...

Loved the interview! I'll be watching for the sequel.

Jemi Fraser said...

Great interview!! I can't wait for the 2nd and 3rd books in this story. I love that the original blue print is a circle with a few notes :)

Can't believe I hadn't found your blog before! It's wonderful - off to peek around a bit :)

Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks so much Beth for letting me interview you.

Ann, Elizabeth, Jennifer, Sheri, Enamored Soul, and Christine--I'm so glad you enjoyed the interview.

whispering words said...

Fab interview natalie, this book is def going on the wish list. Also thankyou for the giveaway!


Maria said...

Fabulous interview! It's always really nice to see the process an author went through in writing their book. Thank you for the thoughtful responses!

Bidisha said...

Such a cool interview. I really loved how you questioned her about the nuances of getting published. Awesome answers, too!

I'm not into sci-fi as well, but after I read the first chapter online..well, that book's on my wishlist.

Love the cover, too.


And thanks for being so kind with the giveaway.

Kristen Wixted said...

This is an inspiring story of a story. Thanks !

Nicole Zoltack said...

Awesome interview! I've heard such great things about this book!

Paula said...

REALLY great interview. So inspirational and I've read her first chapter online--SO good, and scary, and goood (er, I said that already). Anyway, I look forward to reading the the whole series!!!

Bethany Hudson said...

I'm in the process of querying my latest novel (also the first in a trilogy), and I so needed this right now. Thanks, Beth! I've got Across the Universe on hold at my local library right now to continue the inspiration fest :-)

Kristine Asselin said...

Loved this book! I really enjoy reading about the hopes and fears of authors who have "made it" -- definitely gives me hope! Good luck to Beth as the second and third books come out!

Kathryn Packer Roberts said...

I couldn't pass up this giveaway. I have been wanting to read this book for such a long time!

kprwrite at hotmail dot com

Carmella Van Vleet said...

I've been hearing about this book. Thanks for the shot to win a copy!

Diane said...

Love the cover so much and I am a follower! Great giveaway :O)

Casey McCormick said...

Fantastic interview!! I love Beth an AtU. Never get tired of hearing about her road to publication.

Thanks girls!

Bethany C Morrow said...

Huhzah for allowing international entries! :D I would LOVE a copy of Beth's book!

Ana Lucía said...

Great interview! Thank you thank you for making it international, fingers crossed I win. I've heard this book is amazing but I can't find it in my country.

I'm a GFC follower.


Cheyenne said...

Thanks for the giveaway!

Chey @ The Chey Show

Miss Jessica said...

I adore this book! Would love to win a copy!

Vivien said...

What a fabulous interview. She really did share a lot.

deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

KatieC said...

So inspiring! Great interview, and can't wait to read it : )

Mandy IReadIndie said...

awesome interview!!
twimom101 @ yahoo .com

Di said...

Great interview. Now I have a new series to add to my wishlist.

Janae's Book Obsession said...

Great interview! Yet another book to add to my list! :)

lindseybousfield said...

I'm a follower! :)


J said...

Thanks for the interview! Nice to know that obsession with all outlets of social media is not a prerequisite! :)

Angie said...

Been wanting to read this! Fabulous interview. I'm an old follower.


Anonymous said...

Great interview! It's nice to hear that Beth was successful with this book. Perseverance brings good things :) Thanks for the giveaway :) I'm a follower.


Chey said...

Thank you so much! I NEED to read this book. It just sounds too incredible not to. I feel like I'm missing out! haha.


Sonia said...

Thanks for the fantastic interview and giveaway! I've been wanting to read Beth's novel for a while now so it would be great to win a copy :)

GFC Follower under The Story Queen.


Anonymous said...

Great interview! I didn't know Across the Universe was meant to be a standalone. I'm glad it isn't with all the great things I've heard about it. Beautiful cover!

Thanks for the chance :-)


Jenna Cooper said...

Awesome interview! I've heard great things about Across the Universe.

Anonymous said...

Great interview! I'd love a copy of your book, Beth!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I ADORE Beth Revis and I LOVED her book!!! Great, great interview. *waves to you both* :-)

Mandie Baxter said...

Awesome interview! Beautiful book cover.

Unknown said...

Thank you for the fabulous interview! I listened to the audiobook of Across the Universe and LOVE this book. I'm intend to get it for my classroom library.

I second your recommendation of following Beth's blog.

April X said...

Thanks for the giveaway :) I've been dying to read this book since it came out (in like January lol).


LisaFicTalk said...

That wad really insightful and inspiring. Beth kept up with
Her writing even after so many rejections.
And with AtU it was HER time to shine.

I'd love to win! And thanks for making international
Readers eligible too!



Miriam Forster said...

Yay for awesome interviews! I've read the book and would LOVE to own it. :)

Val said...

Oooo I really want this book!


Unknown said...

Nice interview. I'm so happy that YA Sci-fi is embraced by the YA community. Now I just have to write an awesome Sci-fi novel. :) Thanks Beth and Casey!

Christina Farley said...

Lots of great stuff here girls. Can't wait for Book #2!

Unknown said...

Nice interview. This book has been on my TBR for a while. Thanks for the giveaway!

Carolina M. Valdez Schneider said...

As always, Beth is full of great advice and information. Such an inspiration.

Michelle said...

Great interview and thanks for the giveaway! :)

Susan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Susan said...

Awesome interview :D thanks for the giveaway!!! I thought this book was beyond brilliant, and I seriously cannot wait for the sequel ^_^



Suzie F. said...

Your story gives me hope, Beth!

I just finished Across the Universe around 2 weeks ago and loved it. And I'm so glad to hear that this is a series!

Michael G-G said...

Wonderful interview with Beth, Natalie. Her persistence in continuing to write (ten trunk novels!) is an inspiration to me.

Christy said...

I've heard so many good things about your book Beth. I am excited to read it.

Kristin Lenz said...

Across the Universe was recommended by two people in the comments on my blog. I'm looking forward to reading it. A huge congrats to you for your persistence!

Lisa Nowak said...

Great interview. I love reading stories about how hard work finally pays off.

Ishta Mercurio said...

Thanks for the inspiring, informative interview, Beth! It was really nice of you to share some of your tips and encourage us other writers.

And thanks also for the giveaway!

KM Nalle said...

I loved this interview. Inspiring and informative! Thanks to you both. I'm looking forward to reading the book.

Carolyn said...

Love this interview!

Regina said...

Beth is such a lovely person. Loved the interview and can't wait to read this book!


Faith E. Hough said...

THis book has such an amazing premise--and I've been seeing it everywhere! I'm happy that such a lovely person as Beth can have this success. :)

Dayse D. said...

I loved Across The Universe! It's one of those books that you want to read over and over again, that's why it would be sweeeet if I got one :)

Ghenet Myrthil said...

Great interview! Beth's road to success is really inspiring. I'm excited to read her book!

kathrynjankowski said...

Beth's story is so inspiring!

Thanks for the contest.

aloveforbooks said...

Thanks for the interview! I'm so excited for her books! Hope I win.

Thanks for the giveaway!

GFC follower: aloveforbooks
email: aloveforbooks at gmail dot com