Happy Monday, everybody!
To kick off "One Year Anniversary of Magical Book Deal" week, I have a very special treat: a lovely, YA-centric interview with the fabulous Agent Holly!
As you should all know from reading this blog, Agent Holly is the bomb-diggety. I knew from the first five minutes of our first phone conversation that she was the agent for me. For one thing, she's hilarious, and I tend to work well with people who are funny! Secondly, she had a super-clear vision for HEX HALL. She knew exactly which houses she wanted to send it to, and I was so impressed by that since she'd only had the manuscript for a couple of days. And thirdly, and most important for me, she and I were on the same page (hardy har har) when it came to my career. (Side note of Business-y Stuff: If you've been querying for awhile, and you get that first offer of representation, I know it can be SO tempting to jump right on it and be like, "YES! REPRESENT ME PLEASE!" But make sure you have a good talk with your potential agent first. Ideally, you'll be working with that person throughout your career, and it is so important to know that you're a good fit, and that you both want the same things. I've had several friends discover late in the game that their agents were not right for them, and it can be a very painful process to end that business relationship!)
Now, let's get started! Here's Agent Holly' official bio from the Waxman site:
"Holly Root began her publishing career as an editor in Christian publishing in Nashville, TN before coming to New York and joining the William Morris Agency’s agent trainee program. She then moved to Trident Media Group, where she sold audio rights for the agency’s clients, including a number of New York Times bestselling authors, before joining The Waxman Literary Agency in 2007 to sell audio rights and represent her own list of authors.
Recently published titles include Leo Babauta's The Power Of Less (Hyperion); Carrie Borzillo-Vrenna's Cherry Bomb (Simon Spotlight Entertainment); Kate Perry's Marked By Passion (Grand Central); Misa Ramirez's Living The Vida Lola (St. Martin's Press); Serena Robar's Giving Up The V (Simon Pulse); and Libby Malin's Fire Me (Sourcebooks). She is actively seeking upmarket and commercial fiction, including women's fiction, mystery, urban fantasy, romance, and YA, and voice-driven nonfiction projects, with particular areas of interest in narrative nonfiction, lifestyle, psychology, self-help/relationships, science, and practical spirituality and religion."
1) What most attracts you to a project?
Voice + concept = a very intrigued agent. Voice + concept + great writing x >3 emotional/character beats that make me sigh audibly on the subway because it's just so right = I will cross the Sahara (or, um, make a phone call) to represent you.
2) What trends are you seeing in YA right now?
Seeing less desire for more of the aspirational, rich-and-fabulous Gossip Girl knockoff fiction. Paranormal can be funny--some editors will tell you they just have too much and so they are now at a point where they risk cannibalizing their own lists and are therefore backing off; other houses can't get enough still. Having a unique setup is more key than ever. Dystopian or postapocalyptic novels seem to be having a Moment but your worldbuilding and writing need to be off the scale to break in there (although really that's true across the board).
3) Anything you'd like to see more of in YA?
YA writers are so creative! Keep it coming; don't chase a trend. Keep flexing your imaginations. Take that popular idea or concept and really give it your own spin.
4)What are some recent YAs you've enjoyed?
THE DISREPUTABLE HISTORY OF FRANKIE LANDAU BANKS; THE FOREST OF HANDS & TEETH; ARTICHOKE'S HEART; THE HUNGER GAMES; LIFE AS WE KNEW IT; THIRTEEN REASONS WHY. (I've been on a dark'n'serious kick lately.)
Next up on the to-read: EVERMORE (I've loved Alyson's previous books) and Cassandra Clare's CITY OF GLASS.
5) What kind of books were you into as a teen?
YA wasn't quite as fully realized as it is now, but I cut a wide path through the usuals--Little House, Judy Blume, the Babysitters Club, the Sweet Valley books (I remember in particularly vivid detail the "Sagas," in which ancestors of the Wakefields (often twins, usually with variations on the names Elizabeth and Jessica) were casually present at many major events in US history. FAB.), and could probably still quote you all of Madeleine l'Engle's Time quartet. The Princess Bride was a favorite, as were Michael Crichton, Dean Koontz and Robin Cook. And of course I read lots and lots of my mom's romances. (Is it clear now why I work in commercial fiction?)
6)Do you have any advice for anyone who wants to write YA?
Don't write YA if you don't love YA and value teens. Beyond that? Read. Read more. Read everything you can. Then write, write more, write as much as you can. Sift the best of it and go from there.
Thanks again to Agent Holly for answering these questions when I know she is a crazy-busy lady!