Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Lori Steel of Raven Quill Literary Agency

Screen Shot 2020-03-01 at 6.54.33 PMLori Steel is a literary agent at Raven Quill Literary Agency.

Lori joins Raven Quill as an agent after working with young readers’ literature for more than a decade. Her experience runs the gamut from school librarian to freelance editor to intern/assistant with two kidlit agencies. She holds bachelor’s degrees in history and education, and an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts.

She represents fiction for all young readers from picture books to young adult and is actively building her list in all kidlit genres except horror.

Across all age groups and genres, Lori seeks stories with authentic, unforgettable voices that reflect the diverse world we inhabit, instill the possibility of hope, and illuminate the shared human experience.

More specifically, for MG/YA, Lori is interested in representing contemporary stories that address socio-economic disparity, immigration, mental illness, and personal journeys of self-discovery. She would love to see meticulously researched historical fiction that flips conventional interpretations and extends the conversation—as well as with narrative non-fiction that illuminates a little-known slice of history or unique perspective. For fantasy, she finds it hard to resist folklore-inspired tales and earthy world building. In all genres, she has a soft spot for story settings that seep off the page, unconventional story structure, and verse novels.

For Picture Books, Lori will consider manuscripts that are crafted with spare text, play with structure, utilize collusion to engage participation, and don’t underestimate young readers. She is searching for whimsical, lyrical, surprising, and/or humorous stories that young readers will beg to read over and over again.

Raven Quill Literary Agency was established in 2020 by founder, Jacqui Lipton, to represent children and young adult writers. We provide individually tailored and dedicated representation for creators of books that share new messages, create a sense of joy and wonder, and make a difference in the world.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Shannon O’Neill of Ross Yoon Literary

Screen Shot 2020-02-19 at 10.35.45 PMShannon O’Neill is a literary agent with Ross Yoon Literary.

Shannon is a literary agent who helps thought leaders, public personalities, and current and recovering journalists and academics bring their book ideas to life. In her fifteen years as a developmental editor, book doctor, and publishing consultant she worked with writers at every stage: idea generation, proposal writing, manuscript composition, and published book. She continues to work with her clients through the full life cycle of a project.

Shannon seeks nonfiction books that inform, intrigue, and inspire: areas of special interest include current affairs, popular science, history, memoir, and psychology.

She also seeks literary fiction that reveals the inner workings of complex characters or offers a fresh look at a seemingly familiar time, place, or situation.

Shannon is a cum laude graduate of Dartmouth College and earned a Masters in Writing from Johns Hopkins University. A Washington DC native, in her post-college years she was able to fulfill her tweenage dream becoming a bookseller at landmark indie bookstore Politics & Prose. She has taught writing and publishing courses in a variety of venues and to audiences ranging from first year American University students to retired diplomats. She now lives in the Maryland suburbs with her family where she enjoys logging long miles on the C&O Canal towpath.

 

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Zabé Ellor of The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency

Screen Shot 2019-01-17 at 5.15.21 PM.pngZabé Ellor is a literary agent with The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency.

Zabé joined The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency after previously interning at the agency and at Inklings Literary, and serving as a publications assistant at IOP Publishing. He graduated from Cornell University with a dual degree in biology and English. An avid reader and writer, his non-literary interests include running, travel, and finding the perfect dim sum in his home city of Washington D.C.

What he’s looking for:

Middle Grade: “I’m now open to MG and excited to find clients writing exciting, adventurous, hilarious books for preteens! My favorite middle grade books weave voice, whimsy, and heart together to meet young readers where they are, instead of talking down or patronizing. I love all things speculative, from wild new worlds to small hints of magic, and my dream would be to find something that innovates at world building how Gregor the Overlander does. I also love stories grounded in the contemporary world, but prefer humorous tones to the very serious. Projects with graphic elements always welcome. I’m especially interested in seeing submissions from diverse voices.”

Young Adult: “I love all genres of YA: swoonworthy romances, electrifying thrillers and mysteries, heartbreaking contemporaries, and SFF that sweeps me off to a new world. Whatever you’re writing, give me flawed characters who struggle with the complexities of growing up and tangled networks of relationships binding them together. Books with messy, real, and consuming emotions are my kryptonite; recent favorites include Three Dark Crowns, Burning Glass, The Astonishing Color of After, When Dimple Met Rishi, Eliza and her Monsters, When the Moon was Ours, and The Love Interest.”

Adult SFF: “In adult SFF, I’m looking for expansive worlds inhabited by unforgettable characters. In fantasy, hook me with a setting or magic system I’ve never seen; then deliver by making me fall in love with the heroes struggling in its shadow. Favorites of mine include the Emberverse series, The Broken Earth trilogy, Sanderson’s Cosmere novels, Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels novels, Steven Brust’s Vlad Taltos novels, and anything by Joe Abercrombie. In science fiction, give me technology-rich stories that explore how societies evolve and change on a grand scale: think Ancillary Justice, An Unkindness of Ghosts, Seveneves, and Yoon Ha Lee’s Hexarchate novels.”

Graphic novels: “I’m interested in graphic novel projects for all age groups. Give me children’s projects that will make me laugh, cry, or both: think The Prince and the Dressmaker, The Witch Boy, or anything by Dav Pilkey. Give me adult projects that can ONLY be told in graphic novel format—stories like Saga and Low where the art creates the world. Author/illustrators strongly preferred.”

Nonfiction: “In nonfiction, I want proposals for books about science and history that teach and entertain in equal measure. If you want to dive deeply into an intriguing quirk of our world—and can do so with voice, wit, and an eye for the human—I want to see your proposal! As a former evolutionary biology/Renaissance literature major, my interests are wide, but I’ll always be interested in projects about fossils. Show me your platform and your passion for the subject.”

“Diversity is incredibly important to me. I strongly encourage marginalized authors to self-identify, if they are comfortable, especially if their identity is related to their project.”

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Megan Barnard of The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency

Screen Shot 2020-02-19 at 4.35.27 PMMegan Barnard is an associate literary agent at The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency.

Megan joined The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency as an associate agent in 2020, after interning for nearly three years at several top literary agencies, including P.S. Literary Agency and Folio Literary Management. She has worked as an editor and copywriter and has a BA in English (with a concentration in Creative Writing) from Hollins University. When not working, she runs, drinks coffee, and travels widely. Her favorite places to read across the globe are Île Saint-Louis in Paris, Pacific Grove, CA, and Portmagee, Ireland. In reality, though, she spends most of her free time shuffling her towering stacks of books around so they don’t kill her or her husband.

She is seeking:

Adult Fiction:

  • Historical — I particularly want historical fiction in the vein of Kate Morton, Kate Atkinson, and Susanna Kearsley. I prefer time periods after the 19th century (but will consider others). I also love what I think of as “historical fiction with magic.” Think Circe, The Snow Child, Life After Life, A Secret History of Witches. I’d LOVE to find anything like these books.
  • Women’s Fiction — upmarket or commercial is fine
  • Literary and upmarket — wonderful prose, but a strong commercial hook is important too. Think The Good People, The Secret Chord, or My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry.
  • Family Sagas — I come from a big family, so I have a soft spot for stories about big families and/or sister/sibling relationships.
  • Thrillers — in the vein of The Beloveds, The Girl on the Train, Gone Girl (I love unreliable narrators). I’m looking for psychological suspense over gore. A little blood is fine, a lot, not so much.
  • Fairy tale retellings — I’m quite picky about these, they need to be new and fresh, but I love retellings that turn old fairy tales on their heads (think The Hazel Wood, Snow Glass Apples). I’d particularly love to find retellings outside the well-known western canon. Fairy tales/stories from all cultures are welcomed and encouraged.

I’m not looking for any of the following: romance, erotica, epic fantasy, SF, YA, MG, picture books, short stories, screenplays, or poetry collections.

Adult Nonfiction:

I’m very picky about my nonfiction, and I’m only looking for narrative nonfiction right now. I particularly love memoirs that show beauty that comes out of adversity or pain, like Once More We Saw Stars by Jayson Greene, The Salt Path by Raynor Winn, and Educated by Tara Westover. I’m also interested in nature writing like that of Robert Macfarlane and John Lewis-Stempel. If you have something that combines memoir with nature writing like Amy Liptrot’s The Outrun, I definitely want to see it.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Dara Kaye of Ross Yoon Literary

Screen Shot 2018-05-12 at 5.01.07 PMDara Kaye is a literary agent and Foreign Rights Manager at Ross Yoon Agency. She brokers clients’ contracts in more than 50 countries.

For fiction, her interests include speculative fiction (science fiction and fantasy).

As an agent, she is looking for great nonfiction — particularly narrative nonfiction. “I’m looking for great storytelling that teaches readers to see things differently—whether it exposes a story of modern corruption, tells the backstory of a historic scientific breakthrough, recasts original research for a popular audience, or in the case of biography and memoir, holds up a mirror to a specific experience and shows what is universal in it. I am particularly interested in hidden histories, underrepresented voices, and unexpected intersections of topics, styles, and audiences.”

Dara is an ex-academic with a degree in Renaissance Literature, so she’ll cross into nearly any genre for Shakespeare adaptations that bring something new to the table. Before joining Ross Yoon, Dara spent two years in South Korea on a Fulbright fellowship teaching English and researching the history of Shakespeare in Korea.

 

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Sarah Davies of Greenhouse Literary

Screen Shot 2019-12-16 at 3.41.58 PMSarah Davies is a literary agent and founder of Greenhouse Literary.

Sarah founded Greenhouse when she moved to the US in 2007 after a long career as a UK children’s publisher, working with many internationally celebrated authors. She now divides her time between London and New York.

Sarah has been an editor most of her life and has considerable experience in contract negotiation, marketing and rights. Excellent publishing contacts in both the USA and Britain, and many years spent living in both countries, have given her an unusually transatlantic view of the children’s books industry, from both sides of the desk. A member of AAR, Sarah has crossed America and Europe talking about children’s books and writing craft.

What Sarah is seeking: fiction by North American authors — from middle grade through young adult across all genres. (Note: she is currently closed to debut picture books but does rep PBs by clients whom she’s initially taken on for other fiction.) She loves strong, hooky, layered plots, writing that is gorgeous but also conceptually strong, and stories that are really moving but make you think too. She is particularly seeking authors from under-represented backgrounds and stories with diverse settings and perspectives.

In YA, she is currently keen to find: fresh, hooky, charming contemporary romance and rom-coms — but note, the hook MUST be strong and unique; smart, original thrillers that grab you from the first page — but still have great writing; multicultural settings and diverse #ownvoices authors and characters (she has a particular interest in the Middle East and France, but authenticity and #ownvoices are essential); stories that deal with contemporary issues of immigration from an authentic perspective; magical realism – perhaps where the “real” is skewed by some other dimension; fantasy, especially by diverse authors, but there MUST be a hook that feels truly fresh and different to all the other fantasy out in the marketplace. AND FINALLY: there’s always room for something the market’s never seen before — whatever that may be!

In general, Sarah enjoys: interesting perspectives and structures; stories involving the ocean, ice, plants,science; intriguing mysteries; relateable history (the World Wars especially; NOT American Revolutionary War or Civil War), and richly portrayed characters and settings of all kinds.

In middle grade, she is looking for: classic-voiced and heartfelt stories that offer a fresh take on the tropes of identity, independence, growing up (perhaps helped along by an interesting and different structure or point of view); adventure with a touch of magic or magical realism; graphic novels by author/illustrators who can create fab and fun young fiction. Again, she always looks for a fresh hook, matched by strong writing.

Additionally: Sarah is open to children’s/teen nonfiction projects that have a strong angle on a subject that jives with today’s concerns. Age-appropriate writing (and formats?) essential. She is also open, by referral, to women’s fiction — especially in the suspense genre.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Leah Pierre of Ladderbird Literary

Screen Shot 2019-10-14 at 12.43.24 PM.pngLeah Pierre is a literary agent with Ladderbird Literary.

A Texas native, Leah moved to the east coast to pursue her dream of working in publishing. Leah spends her time enjoying the company of fictional characters more than people. When not in the company of fictional characters, Leah hangs out with friends and family, cooks, and catches up on movies and TV shows.

She is seeking: “I am looking for diverse and unique work that is faced paced, that I will not be able to put down, and will leave me on the edge of my seat. As much as I pretend to hate them, I do love a good plot twist and a shocking ending. I love stories with a complex cast of characters and I am a sucker for camaraderie, banter, and the tight-knit, family-like group of friends trope.”

Adult novels: romance (ideally interracial), fantasy with elements of myth and legends, historical fantasy/fiction, social-justice-inspired espionage/heist.

New adult novels: romance, coming-of-age, finding one’s identity, F/F friendship, the college experience as well as the post-college experience.

Young adult novels: Fantasy with elements of myth and legend (lesser know myths/legends i.e. Middle Eastern), Meet-Cute/Coming-of-age that involves romance and self-discovery/self-love, Contemporary, realistic and raw family-centered novels, mysteries and thrillers (unreliable narrators are okay), fairy-tale retellings, and a good heist concept.

“A lot of what I am looking for does overlap, so please use your best judgement when submitting. If you’re not sure, give it a try.”