I’m excited to feature author/agent Ammi-Joan Paquette’s latest releases: PARADOX, a post-apocalyptic story with a twist, and RULES FOR GHOSTING, a middle-grade ghost mystery.

Ana only knows her name because of the tag she finds pinned to her jumpsuit. Waking in the featureless compartment of a rocket ship, she opens the hatch to discover that she has landed on a barren alien world. Instructions in her pocket tell her to observe and to survive, no doubt with help from the wicked-looking knives she carries on her belt. But to what purpose?

Meeting up with three other teens–one boy seems strangely familiar–Ana treks across the inhospitable landscape, occasionally encountering odd twists of light that carry glimpses of people back on Earth. They’re working on some sort of problem, and the situation is critical. What is the connection between Ana’s mission on this planet and the crisis back on Earth, and how is she supposed to figure out the answer when she can’t remember anything?

Twelve-year-old Dahlia has always lived at Silverton Manor-having spent fifty years as its resident ghost. When Oliver Day and his family show up as house-sitters the day Mrs. Tibbs, a Liberator sent by the Spectral Investigative Council, arrives to teach Dahlia the proper rules for ghosting, Dahlia can’t wait to make new friends. But the unscrupulous ghost hunter, Rank Wiley, and the crooked town councilman, Jock Rutabartle, plan to rid Silverton Manor of its ghosts and sell it to the highest bidder. With her home and friendships at stake Dahlia may have to break the rules of ghosting as quickly as she learns them to solve the mystery of her death and save the manor. Equal parts charming and eerie, this ghostly caper hits all the right notes for the middle-grade audience.

Your website states that you are an agent as well as an author. What led to this, and what advice do you have for people balancing more than one career?

I think most of us balance a variety of careers or “hats” as I like to call them—whether as with a day job, full-time or otherwise, as a parent, or even in the ever-consuming task of promoting one’s book(s) as they are released. For my part, I was an author first and foremost, and came into agenting in early 2009. This was a career that I had long desired to get involved with, and I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time to be able to make that desire a reality. For me it’s been the perfect complement to my writing career—I remain immersed in the world of books, but without having to exercise that creative side of my nature all the time. What could be better?
Sounds like a nice variety! I love the premise of PARADOX. Where did the idea come from, and what do you want readers to take away from the story when they’re finished?

In this case, the character came first—the flash of an image of a girl waking up in a rocket, on an alien planet, with no memory of who she was or why she was there. This was the starting point for me, and everything from that point on became a process of uncovering the mystery of Ana’s past, and what exactly she was sent to that planet to do. As far as takeaway value—first and foremost I hope they will find this a fast-paced, exciting read. But beyond this, I think there are a lot of big questions about facing fears head-on and how far you would go to rid yourself of the past… how this would shape your life and, ultimately, would you be better off for it in the end?

Fascinating that Ana revealed herself as you wrote her–and I love the themes you explored.You write both picture books and novels. How does the writing and editing process differ between these two types of projects?
The great thing about picture books is their ability to fit into the smaller cracks of time, which are certainly more readily available in my everyday work life. A picture book is certainly not any easier to write than a novel, but it doesn’t have as much need for great swaths of uninterrupted time in the way a novel does. A picture book text can simmer in the background of a writer’s consciousness until that perfect word, line, or plot twists suddenly pops out of the seeming blue. With that said, I greatly enjoy working on both shorter and longer projects—again, it gives balance to my writing self, providing what creative outlet I feel is needed at any particular given time.
Excellent view on picture book writing–and one I hadn’t yet heard. You have another book, RULES FOR GHOSTING, that came out this month. What sort of promotion is involved when multiple books release back-to-back?

There are pros and cons, I suppose. The worry in having several releases close together is that of overwhelming friends and acquaintances, of coming on too strong with the “look at my book!” The advantage, though, is being able to combine promotional efforts—having an event geared toward more than one book, etc. Also, for those of us who are weaker on the promotional side, having several books out at once is a definite motivator, moving book promotion from a “nice thing to do” to a genuine necessity!

Great tips–especially for those who might be nervous about promoting their work. When looking at submissions as an agent, what kinds of manuscripts would you like to see more of? What kinds of manuscripts are you tired of seeing?

Well, unfortunately the Erin Murphy Literary Agency has a closed submissions policy. But you can find a list of conferences I will be attending up ahead on the agency website, as I welcome submissions from attendees of events at which I’ve spoken. As far as tired manuscripts, my answer to this question is always the firm conviction that every author should write to his or her own passion. Forget trends. Forget what’s overdone. Forget what’s selling. Find the story that is lodged immovably within your own soul, the story only you can tell. That’s what you should be writing.
Excellent, and reassuring, advice! Thanks so much for a wonderful interview.
To purchase PARADOX or RULES FOR GHOSTING for yourself, click on the links below:


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