Romance Novelist Shiloh Walker Answers Questions

Advice on Writing Paranormal & Fantasy, E-Books, & Getting an Agent

Mar 31, 2009 Jennifer Jensen
"The Missing" by Shiloh Walker - Berkley Trade

Romance novelist Shiloh Walker answered questions about her writing life in an interview with Suite101 writer Jennifer Jensen. Here, she shares thoughts on finding and getting a literary agent, choosing e-book or print publication for her work, and some of the challenges of writing fantasy and paranormal romances.
About Shiloh Walker

Shiloh Walker is a best-selling author of fantasy and paranormal romance novels. She has 32 print books published, most recently Fragile, a romantic suspense novel. Her 50th e-book, My Lady, will be released in April from Samhain. (Some books are available in both formats.)
Is a Literary Agent Necessary?

It depends on where you plan on submitting to. Some publishers pretty much require an agent. E-book publishers are different, but regardless of whether you sign with an agent, make sure a lawyer reviews any contract before you sign. Signing without somebody looking it over is a chancy thing.
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What Were You Looking for in a Literary Agent? How Did You Find Yours?

I wanted somebody to help push me higher, and to push me to push higher. Somebody that was honest and upfront.
I hooked up with Irene Goodman last in 2008. Basically, I talked with friends, did some searching around and found the agents I wanted to query. Irene and I pretty much hit off from the start, although I did talk to a few more before I signed with her. It's always a good idea to talk to more than one person, I think.
How Can a New Writer Find the Right Literary Agent?

One of the first things I'd suggest is hanging around industry blogs -- a lot of agents do that. Or visit blogs and you can get a feel for them. Plus, you can also learn if there are certain agents you might want to avoid. Once you figure out who you think you like, make sure you read their submission requests - ignoring them is a fast way to end up with a rejection.
Read on

E-Book or Print Publication?

The length/complexity of the book is the number one deciding factor. My contracts with my mainstream publishers specify that they have first right options [on] any books over a certain length with my erotic romances, my paranormal romances and my romantic suspense stories.
But regardless of the contractual obligations, if I know a book is going to be more time consuming and more in-depth, I'm going to try and get in with New York. If the story isn't right for my current contracts, then I'll put aside until I have time to pursue it more.
Currently, I'm only writing novellas or shorter stories for my e-pubs.
Challenges of Writing Fantasy/Paranormal Novels.

Fantasy and paranormal aren't all that different to me - they both require world building and that world building should have some basis in logic: it should make sense, even though vamps and werewolves and dragons are fictional creatures. When I write, I try to make their worlds make sense. The 'rules' of my worlds are something that come together as I write and making sure I establish those rules for the readers as well can be challenging. Plus, trying to write fantasy or paranormal in a way that non-fantasy/non-paranormal readers would possibly enjoy the story as well.
Do You Start with a Character or a Plot? Why?

Characters. I'm lousy at plotting and it's a struggle for me. The characters drive the story. So for me, the characters are better. But that's not going to be the same answer for other writers.
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