Saturday, February 22, 2020

4 Agents at Root Literary seek adult, young adult, and middle grade fiction, author-illustrators, illustrators, and adult nonfiction

The Fever King by Victoria Lee,
represented by Root Literary

Root Literary

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Literary agent Holly Root launched over two dozen New York Times bestsellers before founding Root Literary in 2017. The agency has five agents, four of whom are actively seeking authors:
Kurestin Armada recently left Canadian agency P.S. Literary to join Root Literary. Kurestin began her publishing career as an intern with Workman Publishing and spent time as an assistant at the Lotts Agency before joining P.S. Literary. She holds a B.A. in English from Kenyon College and a publishing certificate from Columbia University. Kurestin is based in New York City, where she spends most of her time in the city’s thriving bookstores.
Kurestin is not yet listed on the Root Literary website, but presumably her interests haven’t changed and she is still actively acquiring Upmarket and Commercial Fiction, Magic Realism, Science Fiction, select Historical Fiction LGBTQ (any genre), Romance, illustrated Picture Books, Middle Grade, Young Adult, and Graphic Novels.
In nonfiction, Kurestin is looking for Design, Cooking, Pop Psychology, Narrative, Photography, Nature, and Science.  
Query Kurestin at:  
Include the first 10 pages of your manuscript in the body of your email.

Taylor Haggerty is actively looking for new authors, both of adult books and young adult. “I love books that surprise me,” she says. “the ones that are just a little unexpected, a little more clever, or funny, or twisty than I’d anticipated going in. Across the board, I’m looking for high-concept premises and manuscripts that demand to be read in a single sitting. I also love books that blend genres or try new and interesting modes of storytelling, whether that means playing around with format, or putting a new spin on a tried-and-true trope.
“I often describe my taste as boiling down to "witches and kissing" - smart, inventive, female-focused fantasy on one end of the spectrum, and fun, delightful romance on the other (though sometimes the stars align and the witches are kissing!).
“But the number one reason I fall for a submission is voice - that quality to your writing that makes it distinctly, uniquely yours. When it comes to my clients’ books, I’m constantly thinking, only this particular author would describe something like this, or write dialogue like that, or rip my heart out with a single sentence, like so. And I like to think that I could always pick their writing out from a lineup, if such a thing existed. So, as corny as it sounds, I want the stories only you could (or would think to) write.”
In adult books, Tayor is specifically looking for General commercial fiction, women’s fiction, and romance.
The Hating Game by Sally Thorne,
represented by Root Literary
“I'm always looking for smart, funny, voice-driven projects to add to my list,” says Taylor, “and I have a tendency to fall for books that blur the lines between genres. High-concept is key! (Two upcoming client titles that are great examples of my taste here are Emily Henry’s BEACH READ and Kate Clayborn’s LOVE LETTERING).
“For romance, I'm primarily looking for contemporary, and anything that plays with tropes in a fun and interesting way. I’m likely not the best fit for romantic suspense, though – never say never! I’m a big rom-com fan, but my bar is very high, since I have so many fabulous authors writing in this space. Sally Thorne and Jen DeLuca, to name just two!) I’d also love to find a big, sweeping gothic romance. In both women’s fiction and historical fiction I’m looking for big hooks, unique points of entry, and books that make me feel.
“In all these areas, I want the book that you can recommend to your mom, best friend, neighbor, and yoga instructor all in one go, as well as books that are just plain fun – and extremely well executed.
“I’d also love to find gorgeous contemporary fantasy, fun and clever fantasy rom-coms, and books grounded in our world (or near-future) with a speculative twist.”
For Young Adult, Taylor says: “Above all else I want to be surprised by a story I haven't read before. I love sibling, friendship, and found-family stories, swoony romance, interesting magic systems, brilliant world-building, smart & witty humor, and plots that go where you aren't expecting them to.
“I love high fantasy that is big and ambitious and feels undeniably fresh (Natasha Ngan’s GIRLS OF PAPER AND FIRE, Destiny Soria’s BENEATH THE CITADEL, and Amanda Joy’s A RIVER OF ROYAL BLOOD are all great client examples of my taste here), but right now I’m particularly on the look-out for contemporary fantasy – something grounded in our world, with a magical/speculative twist. (Along the lines of Lana Popovic’s WICKED LIKE A WILDFIRE, for instance!)
“My love of rom-coms is true in YA as well, and voice and concept are particularly important to me here. (I’m so excited for the world to meet Marisa Kanter’s WHAT I LIKE ABOUT YOU and Cameron Lund’s THE BEST LAID PLANS in Spring 2020!)”
Query Taylor at:  
Include the first 10 pages of your manuscript in the body of our email.

Melanie Castillo is actively looking for fiction and narrative nonfiction. She is especially excited to find high-concept commercial and literary leaning general fiction, young adult novels with a strong voice and propulsive pacing, and heartfelt and humorous middle grade novels across genres.
“I was born and raised in Southern California in a multi-cultural, blended family,” says Melanie, “so I have a soft spot for books that shine a spotlight on the nuances of family relationships and identity. In all cases – no matter what genre you’re writing in – I want to read books that are inclusive and that accurately reflect our world. I like characters who aren’t your typical lead and to be surprised by the unexpected.”
In adult fiction, Melanie is seeking:
Upmarket fiction with elements of mystery/suspense in the vein of Celeste Ng’s EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU and Angie Kim’s MIRACLE CREEK.
Any commercial fiction that could sit on a shelf next to Blake Crouch or Michael Crichton.
Beautifully-written, well-researched, and expansive adult fiction that straddles the line between commercial and literary. A recent example is Madeline Miller’s CIRCE, but Barbara Kingsolver’s THE POISONWOOD BIBLE is a tried-and-true favorite. I’d also add anything that feels like a modern-day EAST OF EDEN.
In Young Adult Fiction, she’s looking for:
The Un-honeymooners by Christina Lauren
represented by Root Literary
Young Adult, Science Fiction/Fantasy, and High Fantasy with page-turning action and adventure, but also an emotional undercurrent that carries through to those last pages.
A slow burn romance (contemporary, rom-com, and fantasy).
In Middle Grade, she’s seeking:
Heartwarming and adventurous fiction. She especially loves books that manage to be timeless while oh so subtly touching on timely topics in a way that doesn’t feel didactic. She wants “that sweet spot between literary and commercial (a trend you may be noticing here). A recent example is Root Literary author Lynne Kelly’s SONG FOR A WHALE.”
Darker fantasy (standalone or series) that feels reminiscent of Philip Pullman’s HIS DARK MATERIALS or Jim Henson’s THE DARK CRYSTAL. Both of these series, despite their different mediums, are epic in scope but so immersive, character-driven, and awe-inspiring that it never feels like work for the audience – instead, around every corner is another surprise.
Finally, “I’m constantly on the lookout for anything that reads like a Studio Ghibli film in both MG and YA (I love them all – especially Porco Rosso, Princess Mononoke, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and Howl’s Moving Castle).”
Query Melanie at:  
Include the first 10 pages of your manuscript in the body of your email.

Molly O’Neill is seeking Young Adult and Middle Grade fiction, author-illustrators, illustrators, cartoonists and graphic novelists, and adult nonfiction, though generally to authors who already have a big platform.
In Young Adult novels, Molly says, “Tell me a story that's somehow never been told, particularly if it's by a narrative voice that's never been heard, or an authorial voice that's been previously under-represented. I'm most compelled by big what-ifs; by a vivid and vibrant sense of place or worldbuilding; by characters making hard, even seemingly impossible choices; by the portrayal of friendships that are as intensely meaningful as any romance; by tales of chosen family or bands-of-misfits-turned-family; and by romances that are simultaneously swoony and full of wit and spark.
“I'm far more interested in the ground-breaking than the well-trodden or derivative, and so am fascinated by unexpected structures, high-concept narrative frameworks and storytelling mechanisms, meldings of genres, or twists I genuinely didn't see coming. And always, always, I want evocative, masterful writing.”
Song for a Whale by Lynne Kelly
represented by Root Literary
In middle grade fiction, Molly is drawn to novels that “make me feel something as a reader – whether you make me laugh, cry, curious, wondrous, or furiously indignant! My favorite middle grades explore relationships and a character's growing awareness of their connections to the larger world around them, all while saying something fresh and meaningful about the experience of being human.
“Magical realism or a sense of the fantastical get big bonus points from me, as does a strong sense of place, real or imaginary, and I can never get enough of humor (though I lean more toward wit, puns, or a sense of the absurd than slapstick humor). Lyrical writing can win me over fast, but it needs to be supported by a plot as compelling as the language is beautiful.”
Molly is seeking author-illustrators of picture books {but not stand-alone picture book manuscripts}. She also welcomes illustrators.
“My illustrator clients work on a variety of formats,” says Molly, “from jacket/cover illustrations, to spot art, to full picture books, to early readers/chaper books, to graphic novels and graphic hybrids. I'm drawn to a wide variety of illustration styles (visit the Illustrator Gallery here to see examples), but what most catches my eye is art with a distinctive narrative sensibility or point of view, a knack for visual storytelling, and the intelligent use of subtle-but-impactful visual details, whether poignant, humorous, or sweet, that add to the richness and complexity of a story's seemingly-simple layers.
“On a technical level, I'm open to any medium, but looking for illustrators who work equally well in full color and black/white/grayscale and dexterity with shading, line work, and composition are all important.”
For adult fiction and nonfiction, Molly is most likely to sign clients who she has pursued based on their existing, distinctive, well-established platform, expertise, or life experience.
Query Molly at:  
For fiction, include the first 10 pages of your manuscript in the body of your email.
Author illustrators should attach a lo-res book dummy (at least 2 full-color spreads), or sample of a longer illustrated work + links to your online portfolio/Instagram to:  
Or “you may also direct us to a password-protected version of the dummy hosted on your website. No shared Google Drive files.
Illustrators should attach 3-5 lo-res sample illustrations + include links to your online portfolio/Instagram/other hosting site to:  

Submissions page here.

Literary agent Martha Webb
If you’re interested in getting published, now or sometime in the future, don’t miss our upcoming How to Get Published 
workshops: Saturday, April 25, 2020, in Guelph with literary agent Martha Webb of the CookeMcDermid agency (see here) and Saturday, May 9, in Toronto with Evan Brown of Transatlantic Literary Agency (see here).

Also check out Writing & Revising, Saturday, Feb 29, in Mississauga (see here), Finding Your Voice, Saturday, March 7, in Burlington, (see here), and How to Make Yourself Write, Saturday, March 14, in St. Catharines (see here).

But the best way of upping your game as a writer, may be with a weekly class. This spring, a full range of courses is on offer, introductory to intensive and including writing kid lit:
Author Kira Vermond, one of
the guest speakers for the
Kid Lit course
Toronto: Welcome to Creative Writing, April 10 – June 19. No class June 5. Details here.
Oakville: Welcome to Creative Writing, Thursday evenings, April 16 – June 25. No class June 4. Details here.
Burlington: Writing Kid Lit, Thursday afternoons,  April 23 – June 25. No class June 4. Details here.
Burlington: Next Step in Creative Writing, Tuesday afternoons, April 14 – June 23. First readings emailed April 7. Details here.
Georgetown: Intensive Creative Writing,  Wednesday evenings, March 25 – June 24. First readings emailed March 18. Details here.
Toronto: Intensive Creative Writing, Friday mornings, March 27 – June 26. First readings emailed March 20. Details here.
            Details of all spring courses here.

Plus …
Algonquin Writing Retreat, Friday, June 5 – Monday, June 8, 2020. Four days of luxury and writing at Arowhon Pines Resort in Algonquin Park – one of most beautiful spots in Ontario. This is the area that inspired the Group of Seven; come and let it inspire you, too. Still room. Details here.

Windsor International Writers Festival, Friday, July 10 – Sunday, July 12. Brian will lead a Round Table critiquing your opening pages on Friday morning, will give a talk about writing query letters, and will meet attendees one-on-one to help them write a query that will get a yes. Details here. More details of the conference here.

Join me in Southampton – a lovely beach town on Lake Huron – for a weekend of workshops this summer: How to Build Your Story, Saturday, July 25 {details to come} and How to Write Great Characters, Sunday, July 26 {details to come}.

To reserve a spot in any upcoming weekly course, weekend retreat, or Saturday workshop, email Brian at:
Read reviews of Brian’s courses, retreats, and workshops here.

See Brian’s full schedule 
hereincluding writing workshops, weekly writing classes, and weekend retreats in, Bolton, Barrie, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Collingwood, Georgetown, Georgina, Guelph, Hamilton, Jackson’s Point, Kingston, Kitchener-Waterloo, London, Midland, Mississauga, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Southampton, Sudbury, Toronto, Windsor, Woodstock, Halton, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York Region, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Navigation tips: Always check out the Labels underneath a post; they’ll lead you to various distinct collections of postings. If you're searching for more interviews with literary agents or a literary agent who represents a particular type of book, check out this post.

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