Dallie Ago is the author of Theia Mania and editor of Bushwick Nightz. Her work has appeared in PANK, Luna Luna Magazine, At Large Magazine, Bushwick Daily, BUST, xoJane, and more. Her writing and art have been profiled in Bedford+Bowery, Gothamist, and Hyperallergic, among others. She currently lives in London.
In this post, Ago explores what it means as a writer to spend time on a project you're really passionate about, how writers can hook an audience by being honest in their work, and more!
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Name: Dallie Ago
Literary agent: Natalie Kimber (The Rights Factory)
Book title: Lesser Journeys
Release date: August 2020
Genre: Women’s Up-market Fiction
Previous titles: Bushwick Nightz (editor) and Theia Mania (author)
Elevator pitch for the book: After witnessing the muse for her novels become a father with another woman, Dallie Ago, a published author and high-powered Architectural Engineer, attempts to conclude if her life is best lived becoming a mother, or living a story as dramatic as those in her books.
What prompted you to write this book?
When I was six, I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes which made me aware of my impermanence. I know that sounds bleak, but it’s not. The awareness granted me this desire to take chances and explore, as well as question the legacies we decide to live behind, and how they may be formed by society.
After moving to London, I was traveling a lot for work as well, intersecting with different cultures. I decided to tie these experiences together into a work of fiction that explores our motives as humans.
How long did it take to go from idea to publication?
When I was traveling, I started by taking notes on things I saw and conversations I had with strangers. Once I had a lot of the smaller scenes and vignettes plotted out, I began to fill in the gaps. I was writing between 10-20 hours a week. The overall manuscript took less than four months, but the editing took nearly a year. Everything changed once I hired Jennifer Obidike to help with developmental edits. She highlighted where I overwrote and helped me streamline the plot. I think we did three rounds!
Were there any surprises or learning moments in the publishing process for this title?
I’m currently represented by an agency based in Toronto that’s been great about sharing the publishing process with me. The more I discussed what sorts of offers and timelines were standard with my agent, the more discouraged I became with leaving the fate of my book in someone else’s hands. COVID hit, and all the risk-taking I had become accustomed to as a chronically ill person compounded. I decided to not only own my life, but help open doors for others, and co-founded a press with two other women (Camille Johnston, who co-founded a cyber-security organization, and Jennifer Obidike—who I loved so much as the editor of the book). Definitely not the traditional route, but it worked for me.
Were there any surprises in the writing process for this book?
The biggest surprise was when I finished writing Lesser Journeys and was confident it could see commercial success due to its accessibility, humor, and pace, but accepted that may never have it. The reality made me ask, even if this Lesser Journeys never hit bookshelves, did I waste my time? I was surprised that the answer was no. I had fun doing it, and I learned about myself in the process. No matter what happens, I’ll never regret the effort put into this book.
What do you hope readers will get out of your book?
I hope they laugh. And if I’ve won them over with that, I hope they feel less alone in this debacle we have as humans who switch between living in the moment and struggling with the fact that we can only choose one path in life.
If you could share one piece of advice with other authors, what would it be?
Write like nobody will ever read your work. Chances are, they won’t, but that will allow you to be more honest in your work, which will make them want to.