Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Caroline Trussell Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 5/20/2024
  • Jenna Satterthwaite Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 6/10/2024
  • Bethany Weaver Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 6/26/2024

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 A NEED SO BEAUTIFUL. The winner is:


Congrats! E-mail me your address so I can send you your book.

Today I’m so excited to interview Tessa Gratton about her debut book, BLOOD MAGIC. I loved the unique and dark magical system Tessa created in her book.

And on July 18th, I got to meet Tessa at her book signing with Maggie Stiefvater in Novi, Michigan. That was such an awesome experience and a highlight of my summer.

Here’s a description of BLOOD MAGIC from Goodreads:

It starts off simply.

Draw a circle ... place a dead leaf in the center ... sprinkle some salt ... recite a little Latin ... add a drop of blood ...

Maybe that last part isn't exactly simple. Yet somehow it feels right to Silla Kennicott. And nothing in her life has felt remotely right since her parents' horrific deaths. She's willing to do anything to uncover the truth about her family—even try a few spells from the mysterious book that arrived on her doorstep ... and spill some blood.

The book isn't the only recent arrival in Silla's life. There's Nick Pardee, the new guy next door who may have seen Silla casting a spell. She's not sure what he saw and is afraid to find out. But as they spend more time together, Silla realizes this may not be Nick's first encounter with Blood Magic. Brought together by a combination of fate and chemistry, Silla and Nick can't deny their attraction. And they can't ignore the dark presence lurking nearby—waiting to reclaim the book and all its power.

Tessa Gratton's intoxicating first novel will keep pulses racing, minds reeling, and pages turning right up to the very last drop of blood.

Welcome Tessa. Thanks so much for joining us.

1. Your biography at the back of your book says that you wanted to be a paleontologist or wizard since you were seven. And that you were born in Japan and traveled a lot as a kid. I wish being a wizard was a profession too. How has your childhood and your love of fantasy influenced your writing?

The traveling was the biggest influence, I think – partly because moving around forced me to turn books into my best friends. I needed them, and even as an adult remember to strongly what it was like to yearn for a good story or amazing characters to keep my company. But on the writing level itself, traveling gave me the gift of experience and adventure – maneuvering in countries with different languages and cultures teaches you to understand people on all kinds of levels. It taught me especially to be curious about people and to empathize.

2. I turned to books for a different reason—I was incredibly shy. I bet you learned a ton about people from all your travels. I found the magical system based on blood to be very unique and kind of dark. What made you decide to base your magical system on this and is it influenced by any magical systems you researched?

Magic needs to have consequences, and I wanted my magic to be fixed to something hard. Blood is an important part of so many real-world mythologies and magical systems, that it was a natural place to start. Everybody has blood, but you have to make tough choices to access it.

3. Both Silla and Nicholas live in non traditional family situations and have parents with dark pasts. How did you decide to develop this and its relation to the main plot?

The magic is tied to blood, and besides eternal life, the thing blood symbolizes most in our culture is family ties. I wanted the story and the magic to be about family, about family history, and how power/ambition can follow kids from their parents.

4. You wrote the story from three POV characters—Silla, Nicholas, and Josephine—and all have distinctive voices. Did you have any challenges doing this and what advice do you have for authors wanting to try this?

It was tough sometimes to keep everything balanced, but in general I think multiple POVs is easier than a single POV, because you have more options. I worked hardest on making the voices sound separate during revisions – even up through the final round of copy editing. I recommend being sure you know how your characters would talk, and choose specific rules when you start out for how they’ll do things differently. Those can be fine-tuned as you go, but if you know that Silla uses lots of metaphors and Nick talks in shorter sentences, that can be a good place to start.

5. That’s really good advice to focus on making the voices sound different and to go beyond the words they might frequently use to the manner of how they talk. I read that you did not outline until after you wrote your first draft. Can you tell us how you outline and why that works for you?

I use outlines as a way to rearrange the pieces that I’ve already written – when drafting I need to be free to explore crazy other options, but revision is when everything gets tightened up and organized. I prefer notecards and character arc outlines.

6. You’re critique partners with Maggie Stiefvater and Brenna Yovanoff. Tell us a bit about how that came about and some advice on how you help each others as critique partners that we should follow in our own critique groups.

Well, really we just met on the internet and started working together! It takes a lot of trial and error to find your perfect CP match. I tried in person groups, online groups, and critiqued for about 20 people before hooking up with Maggie. She introduced me to Brenna, and the rest is history! Don’t settle, either – and be honest all the time.

7. So cool how the Internet can lead to friends. You watched Maggie’s success once SHIVER came out (an awesome series BTW) and Brenna debut. How did their experiences influence your own marketing plan and tell us a bit about what you’ve done to market your book?

I don’t do a lot of marketing myself – not beyond my web presence. I’ve got my website, and I blog because I love it. I had bookmarks designed, but those are for me to give out when I go to conferences or libraries or bookstores, not for any big marketing plans.

8. Your agent is Laura Rennert. Tell us a bit about your road to publication.

I’ve been writing since I was a kid, but took it seriously starting in high school. I broke up with it in college, but then after leaving grad school started writing again with the intention of making it my career. I wrote a book, queried about 5 agents, and after they all rejected my book, I wrote a new book, queried 5 more agents. They rejected that book, too, so I wrote a third book and that was the proto-Blood Magic. I only queried Laura that time, and she loved it, and signed me up! My philosophy was that if I wasn’t getting the agents I wanted, then my book wasn’t ready.

9. That’s so awesome how you kept going onto a new project. What are you working on now? Can you tell us anything about your secret project that I’ve read you’re working on?

I can’t! Sorry! It’s all top secret for a while longer. What I can tell you is that there’s a companion novel to Blood Magic coming out next spring called THE BLOOD KEEPER. It takes place 5 years later, with new heroes, but most of the characters from Blood Magic will show up, as well as some of the more mysterious ones like Nick’s mom Donna and the Deacon.

That's okay. Can't wait for the companion novel. Thanks Tessa for all your great advice. Good luck with your books!

Thanks for having me!

You can find Tessa at her website, blog, and Merry Sisters of Fate.

I’m giving away one signed copy of BLOOD MAGIC. 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 September 10th. I’ll announce the winner on September 12th. International entries are welcome.

And don’t forget you have until midnight on September 3rd to win a copy of THE GATHERING by Kelley Armstrong here. I’ll announce the winner on September 5th.

On September 12th, I’ll be interviewing P.J. Hoover and giving away a copy of her new YA book SOLSTICE.

Enjoy your last week of summer and see you next week!


Matthew MacNish said...

What an interesting twist on magic, this sounds like a great story. Awesome interview, thanks Natalie and Tessa!

Oh, and congrats Vivien.

S.A. Larsenッ said...

Great to meet you, Tessa! I like how you honed in on the family ties aspect of blood and whirled that around your plot. The cover of the book is fab, BTW! Great interview! Thanks, Natalie.

Val said...

I love the cover of this book. Thanks for the interview.


The Happy Booker said...

Wonderful interview. I love the way the author explained her decision on the magic system in Blood Magic. It sounds absolutely amazing and I love the cover. I think this book would look quite nice on my shelf! Thanks for the opportunity to win a signed copy!

Donna @ The Happy Booker
ahappybooker at gmail dot com

whispering words said...

Thank you for the interview, love hearing from authors about how their books came to be. Also thanks for the giveaway!


Kristin Lenz said...

The story does sound intoxicating! How did I miss that Tessa and Maggie were in Novi for a signing - so close to me! Thanks for the interview.

ArtemisG said...

The book has very interesting story and an amazing cover!
Thank you for the giveaway.

artgiote at gmail dot com

A. K. Fotinos-Hoyer said...

Thank you for the interview :)

Bidisha said...

i love the idea of magic being related to the blood. it's all just so exciting. such a great interview, too! a fellow wizard :D

loved this.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks for the great interview Tessa. It was even more special because I got to meet you.

Theresa Milstein said...

Good interview!

I own the book, so I won't enter. I look forward to reading it.

jpetroroy said...

Great interview! Can't wait to read this.

Llehn said...

I love Tessa. Oooo ... I'm number 13. Is this a sign? Brrr ...


Nicole Zoltack said...

I've heard so many good things about this book. Love the cover. Great interview!

Barbara Watson said...

Sounds like an intriguing read! Thank you for the interview, Natalie and Tessa! Your point, Tessa, about not getting the agents you wanted meaning your book wasn't ready - that is so helpful for me as I prepare my book for querying.

Leslie and Elizabeth said...

This looks cool!~Elizabeth

Toni Moxley said...

Your book sounds amazing - best of luck in the future!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I love the cover--gorgeous! I've been dying to read this one for what feels like forever. Thanks, ladies! :-)

Sophia Chang said...

Geez you guys have the BEST giveaways!!!

Vivien said...

Another great giveaway!
GFC follower

deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

Ruth Schiffmann said...

Congratulations on the win, Vivien!

Thanks, Natalie for this great review. Enchanting cover!

Angela Brown said...

Tessa and Natalie, this interview rocked. Thanks so much for sharing some helpful tips and great advice... especially at the crit partners.

Elana Johnson said...

Great interview! I love Tessa and BLOOD MAGIC. Such a great book.

Ishta Mercurio said...

I loved meeting Tessa when she and Maggie were in Toronto for Maggie's FOREVER tour - she is so nice and honest about writing and the process.

Thanks for the interview and the giveaway! (I didn't have a copy for her to sign - the bookstore had sold out. Boo for me. But, good for Tessa!)

I love your agent-search philosophy, Tessa: if you're not getting bites from your top tier agent picks, then your book isn't ready. So, so right.

Samantha Jean said...

I have got to win this book! Nick shares my married last name and I've NEVER read a book with a character sharing my last name - maiden, married, or make-believe! Also, I love books dealing with magic and this one sounds like it won't disappoint.

I think it's so cool that Tessa is a CP for other writer's who've already 'made' it. So exciting for your friends and wicked cool that she's joined her peers now. Also, way to go on not giving up! I often feel so overwhelmed that quiting looks more and more appealing. Tessa has inspired me to not quit...at least, not yet! Thanks for the inspiring interview and I hope I win!

mr.boardgame AT yahoo DOT com

Jill the OWL said...

Great interview! I got to meet her at KitLit Con last fall and how she came across in the interview is exactly how she is!

themgowl at gmail dot com

Linda said...

This is an awesome interview! I really want to read this book.

Chen Yan Chang said...

The cover is so amazing! I love that once Tessa couldn't get the agent she wanted for her book, she writes a new book, and then a new book!

GFC: cyc

jadedlittlegirlx AT gmail DOT com

Jessy said...

That's so cool your critique partners and you became such good friends.

I can't wait to read Blood Magic, I've been trying to get my hands on a copy for a while.

Martha Ramirez said...

What a beautiful cover and interesting premise!

How cool that Maggies and Brenna are ur cps.It really is amazing who we connect with. Good for you!

Thank you Casey and Tessa for a great interview. I enjoyed reading.

donnas said...

Great interview. Looking forward to reading this.

bacchus76 at myself dot com

Taffy said...

Great interview. Three POVs? Interesting!

justJoan said...

Awesome interview! This is also an awesome book. I've already read it, but I'd love to win a signed copy. =D

Christina Farley said...

Great interview! I love the cover and the title.

Paula said...

Great interview. Interesting tips on writing from different POVs, too. AND I'm so excited to find someone else who writes the draft first and then outlines. YAY. Maybe I'm doing something right after all.

Look forward to reading the book.

Glamorous Newlywed said...

Intriguing story concept, especially with the different POV's! Can't wait to read it!