2020 Graduate Alyssa Roat Signs Contract for YA Fantasy Trilogy

An estranged uncle, a mysterious mansion, and Arthurian legend—together they lead to a world of magic and bloodthirsty wizards who want teenage Brinnie dead.

I started writing the first book in the Wraithwood Trilogy, Wraithwood, as a high school junior. My intent was to write a cute standalone children’s book to take a break from more epic high fantasy writing, and maybe actually finish a manuscript for once. That plan quickly deteriorated as I ended up with a monster of a manuscript and a plan for a 3-book upper middle grade/young adult crossover series with a complex world, magic, and a whole lot of alternate history.

Alyssa Roat (2020) signs her three-book contract.

The smart thing to do is to write book one and then write further books if the first is contracted so you don’t waste your time. Apparently I am not smart, because once I finished Wraithwood during my senior year of high school, I quickly wrote the sequels Mordizan and Castelon my freshman year in college.

Another smart thing to do is wait until you have a big platform and are out of college with marketing experience to try to publish a book. But my agent Hope Bolinger begged me to let her represent Wraithwood my junior year, and I gave in.

Yet another smart thing to do? Actually fit neatly into either the MG or YA box, which I didn’t. I really felt stupid as Wraithwood spent a year and a half out on submission and garnered seventeen rejections. There was only one contract offer made, but it was from a tiny press, so I turned it down.

I hit a low when a publisher I really thought might be the one sent a not-so-nice rejection. I got depressed and asked Hope to pull the book from submissions, but that sneaky, wonderful woman submitted it to a brand-new publisher, INtense Publications, without my knowledge. So I was confused when she called me one December morning and told me in her smirking Hope-is-happy-about-a-big-surprise-but-is-trying-to-be-subtle voice to check my email.

INtense appreciated all the unique quirks that made other pubs balk—enough, in fact, to offer a
3-book deal.

I didn’t really do anything the smart way, but the professional writers at Taylor supported me, encouraged me, and offered feedback all the way through. TU alum Hope Bolinger opened doors for me as an agent, and Professor Taylor helped me hone my craft, especially in editing, which helped a lot when I had to cut 13,000 words from Wraithwood.

So, in the end, I guess I did do one thing the smart way: I became a Taylor University pro-write.

Alyssa Roat is a YA author (Dear Hero Sept. 1, 2020, Wraithwood Nov. 7, 2020), a literary agent with Cyle Young Literary Elite, the publicity manager for Mountain Brook Ink and Mountain Brook Fire, an editor with Sherpa Editing Services, and a freelance writer. She’s also a proud 2020 graduate of Taylor University’s professional writing program.

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