New Client Alert — Callie Rowland
- By: Jenissa Graham | Date: Jun 19 2023
What you Write:
When I got on the call with Jenissa, I felt immediately understood, and throughout the call she showed me examples of how her editorial and submission processes work. That combination of connection and transparency made me feel absolutely safe—and I already feel a sense of community with my agent siblings!
Tell us a bit about your writing process. Where do you write, and how often?
Most days, my writing process involves opening my WIP document, staring at it hunched over my desk, and terrifying myself that I’m ruining my posture. After checking my posture in the mirror, I type a sentence then delete it, then I repeat this process a few times. I sigh. I go watch a YouTube video (usually of someone baking a cake). I stare at the document some more and pull at my hair and worry my hair is going to fall out. Finally, when I get so angry at myself that I can’t waste any more time, I narrow my eyes and say, “Callie, if you don’t do it, it won’t get done, so you might as well do it now.” Then, at long last, I start typing and disappear into the work.
Where can readers find you on the web and social media?
For vintage fashion, reading updates, and occasional screeching into the void, you can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @_callierowland. For more professional updates, you can visit my website and blog callierowland.com.
Do you have any writing rituals? (e.g. burning a candle if you’re having trouble getting started at the computer or writing longhand first if you’re feeling uninspired.)
When it’s warm enough, I like to write outside; feeling the breeze and hearing the birds quiets my mind. If my Anxiety is really flaring, convincing me that I’ve already peaked and it’s all downhill from here, I grab one of my writing notebooks and start writing with a good old fashioned pen. This helps me get lost in whatever I’m writing, which is maybe because the act of physically writing each letter demands more attention than typing, and therefore it forces me to be more present.
What do you love about writing Fantasy Fiction?
I love Fiction because real life is uncontrollable. Bad things happen, and it’s often impossible to see the light at the end of the tunnel until you are already out of the tunnel, surrounded by light and looking back at the darkness. I’m a plotter, so when I write Fiction, I’m able to give the bad things a reason right out of the gate. When I explore the reasons for the bad things in my stories, it helps me remember—even in the midst of my life’s tunnels—that the bad things will end, and when I look back at them, they will (hopefully) make just as much sense as those in my stories.
Why did you choose the genre you’ve chosen?
I’ve already covered why I choose Fiction, and I’m sorry to say that my reason for choosing Fantasy is a lot less meaningful. I choose Fantasy because it’s…fun. As a kid, I wanted so badly for every flower, insect, and shadow to be a fairy in disguise. When I write Fantasy, I can make all of that true and more. It doesn’t matter how weird something is; if I can imagine it, I can put it on the page.
What is the hardest part about writing Fantasy Fiction?
I’m very detail oriented, so I tend to get caught up in the minutiae of world building. Like, I’ll be drafting a chapter and spend twenty minutes agonizing over what each type of candy in some shop should be called before I realize that I need to focus on drafting the plot, then I can go back and finalize the names. Names tend to change a few times during my writing process anyway, so I am consistently baffled as to why I keep doing this to myself. Ah, to be a writer.
Do you get inspiration from any TV shows or movies? If so, which ones?
The book I got signed with is a direct result of—spoiler alert—Loki’s death at the beginning of Avengers: Infinity War. I mean, what was that? Unacceptable behavior. If the tragic villain is going to suffer—and possibly die—we can do them a whole lot more justice. What started as me avenging Loki’s death ended up being a book about perception, trauma, and the danger of shoving someone into a mold they were never shaped to fit. Everyone is a hero and a villain; the story changes depending on who’s telling it.
If money were no object, what would be your dream writing location?
Okay, this is hyper-specific, but my dream is to live in a small European village with cobblestone streets, lots of flowers, and a surrounding moor that fogs in the morning. In this village, I live in the apartment above a local bookstore with my pet cat, where I spend my days writing and baking with the bay windows open to the breeze. Of course there are flower boxes on the windowsills and Wisteria climbing the weathered stone facade. I do lots of book signings in the local bookstore because it is my favorite place with my favorite people, and I never need a vacation, because come on, why would I?
Do you belong to any writing organizations?
Alas, I am not yet cool enough for that.
What was the most important question you asked when interviewing agents?
“Where do you see this book?” My book is a Literary Fantasy—basically, it’s a family saga set in a fantasy world. It’s niche, so I knew I needed an agent who really got what I was trying to do. When I asked Jenissa this question on our call, the first editor she mentioned was my top choice editor at my top choice publisher. Knowing we’re on exactly the same page made me feel confident in not just working with her for this book, but also working with her throughout my career. That’s what I think the call should be: not just a discussion of the manuscript at hand, but also a discussion of you, the writer, and how you envision your career.
How did you know your book was ready to submit?
So, fun story—I didn’t. About two weeks before I planned to start querying, I downloaded Twitter. I had never even heard of pitch events, but it just so happened that the day I downloaded the app, SFFpit was a few days away. My query was ready, and my book just needed one more line edit, so I decided to participate. I didn’t expect anything, but I actually did really well, so a few days later I sent off my first pitch like query. A few days later that query turned into a full. It was my 21st birthday, and I cancelled my plans, stayed up all night doing my line edit, and sent off the full the next morning. That full—and quite a few after it—was rejected, but the line edit was finished, and I knew reading my book during the hellfire of querying would make me hate it, so I didn’t touch it. And now, nine months later, I’ve found the perfect advocate, and I can’t wait to get to work.