Get Your Stiletto in the Door: Suzanne Lazear’s Experience

Please welcome Suzanne Lazear to the Chick Lit blog today. Suzanne is a former Stiletto finalist and soon-to-be-published author of Innocent Darkness, first in a young adult steampunk series called The Aether Chronicles. Hope you enjoy Suzanne’s story about her publication journey.

In 2009, your manuscript INTERFLUIT earned a full request from Agent Tamar Rydzinski of Laura Dail Literary Agency. On your website, I learned that your debut novel, INNOCENT DARKNESS will be released by Flux in August, 2012, and that your agent is Laura Bradford of the Bradford Literary Agency. How did you get from Point A to Point B?

When I placed with Interfluit in the Stiletto in 2009 I was already working on my Steampunk YA Innocent Darkness. Interfluit was my first attempt at writing YA, Innocent Darkness my second. (Though I’d written several adult manuscripts.) Tamar had given me some great feedback on Interfluit which caused me to do some major overhauls, including the ending. I sent her my revised full manuscript in early 2010 around the same time I started querying Innocent Darkness. My query process for ID was very different from Interfluit, since few agents were looking for Steampunk at that time. While I was querying agents for ID, someone in my local RWA chapter let me know that the editor from Flux was looking for Steampunk, she also let me know that Laura Bradford was also looking for Steampunk. Off went my queries. In April of 2010 the editor from Flux, Brian Farrey emailed me and let me know he was halfway though my (unsolicited) manuscript, liked it and wanted to talk. Around the same time, Laura requested the full of ID. Things when pretty quickly from there. Ultimately, Tamar rejected Interfluit, though she gave me even more good feedback about why the story didn’t quite work. But, Brian took ID to editorial review and a few days later offered me a two-book contract. A few hours later, while I was at McDonalds, of all places, I got “the call” from Laura offering me representation. This was all April of 2010. Innocent Darkness, book one in The Aether Chronicles, will be published by Flux in August of 2012. Even though Interfluit remains unsold, the Stiletto was a very valuable experience for me. One day I hope to revisit that story.

Please share a little bit about your novel.

Innocent Darkness is a YA Steampunk dark fairytale which takes place in an alternate version of Victorian California.

Sixteen-year-old Noli Braddock’s hoyden ways land her in an abusive reform school far from home. On mid-summer’s eve she wishes to be anyplace but that dreadful school. A mysterious man from the Realm of Faerie rescues her and brings her to the Otherworld, only to reveal that she must be sacrificed, otherwise, the entire Otherworld civilization will perish (description from goodreads).

Steampunk is the intersection of Victorian romanticism and modern technology. I’ve got a definition of steampunk here, on the steampunk group blog I run with several other steampunk authors.

What has changed between your first pitch for your novel and how you describe it now?

There’s not a huge difference between my original query pitch and the current Goodreads description. However, I tend to just describe it verbally as “Steampunk Faeries.” Sometimes I’ll add “It has kissing.”

What was the biggest boost you got from your Stiletto final?

I had been ready to give up on Interfluit when I entered it in the Stiletto. Not only was I ready to give up on it, I was ready to give up on writing YA entirely. It was really hard for me to learn to write YA, mostly because I kept trying to censor myself in ways that later proved unnecessary. Finaling, then placing in the Stiletto made me realize that even if Interfluit wasn’t “the manuscript” that I could write YA – and the feedback I received on all levels really helped me discover what was/wasn’t working, which I could also apply to Innocent Darkness.

As a contest finalist, what advice would you offer those of us who would like to be in your (fabulous) shoes?

Don’t give up. Keep learning, keep writing. All through querying and contesting Interfluit I not only kept revising it, but I worked on other things, like Innocent Darkness. You may not sell your first manuscript and that’s okay. Innocent Darkness was manuscript 10 (or 11, I can’t remember. The first half dozen or so were really bad. Apparently books need plots). Also, every writer has their own process and own journey—and that’s okay, too.

What’s next on your agenda?

I have some new projects I’m working on, including an Elfpunk, the sequel to Innocent Darkness, and a new YA with lots of kissing.

Thanks so much, Suzanne, for visiting the Chick Lit chapter blog.

Thanks for having me on!


Wish you were in Suzanne Lazear’s fabulous shoes? Enter the 2011 Get Your Stiletto in the Door contest for unpublished manuscripts. Deadline for electronic entries is Sept. 6.

Suzanne Lazear writes Steampunk stories for teens. Her Young Adult Steampunk dark fairytale “Innocent Darkness”, Book 1 of The Aether Chronicles, will be released from Flux in August of 2012. She always plays with swords, is never described as normal, and has been known to run with bustles. Suzanne lives in Southern California with her daughter, the hubby, a hermit crab, and two chickens, where she’s currently attempting to make a raygun to match her ball gown. Visit her blog at and her website

7 thoughts on “Get Your Stiletto in the Door: Suzanne Lazear’s Experience”

  1. I love this and am now thinking seriously about entering a contest or two. Thank you for sharing this story Suzanne.

  2. Fun stroy, Suzanne. I can’t wait to read your book, even though I am far far too old for YA. I guess you’d call what I write lady lit? (heroines over 40) Good to know that contests are solid stepping stones on the road to publication.

    best wishes,

  3. Inspiring story! And Innocent Darkness looks like something I’d definitely want to pick up. Dark fairytale, alternate Victorian California, reform school. . . those elements (even without the steampunk), sound fabulous.

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