Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Felice Laverne of Art + Deco Agency

Felice Laverne is a literary agent with Art + Deco Agency.

Felice is looking for:

For fiction, Felice focuses on contemporary literary, upmarket, commercial fiction and select fantasy novels.

Fiction that explores the subtleties and complexities of language, while still being firmly rooted in modern or futuristic living – whether character or plot-driven. She is looking for select non-fiction with a unique viewpoint by authors with a well-developed media platform, particularly in the areas of foodie culture/cookbooks, incisive commentary on marginalized cultures and pop culture essay collections.

Bottom line: Felice is looking for art on a page and fresh perspectives, writing that says “NO!” to clichés and formulaic tropes, and you can wow her with writing that offers an energetic voice and a deep sense of place.

Felice has a soft spot for brainy novels set on college campuses à la The Secret History by Donna Tartt, The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker and Loner by Teddy Wayne; clever ‘whodunits’ set on estates like The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton and the 2019 film Knives Out; highbrow fiction written around characters of color such as The Emperor of Ocean Park by Stephen L. Carter and A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara; contemporary Southern Gothic fiction such as Catherine Lacey’s Pew; novels featuring multicultural Millennials in high-powered workplace situations; and witty and satirical upmarket women’s fiction that reveals a nasty side to a major industry (i.e. fashion, film, etc.) as in The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger.

She is intrigued by novels that can introduce readers to a new world, make us think differently about one we already know, or tap into the cultural climate. Felice is interested in finding and uplifting writers from marginalized communities – particularly writers of color. A book that offers sharp social commentary interwoven brilliantly throughout the narrative will keep her up all night reading.

She does not want:

Romance, historical of any kind, erotica, YA unless it’s YA fantasy, middle grade, children’s books, science fiction, memoirs, screenplays, poetry collections.

About her:

Felice’s publishing career has always been rooted in championing bold voices and writers from marginalized communities. After obtaining her bachelor’s degree in English, Creative Writing, from Georgia State University, she started her career at About Words Agency directly after college where she worked as an agent until leaving to complete her master’s degree in Publishing at Kingston University in London, England. There, Felice specialized in Diversity & Inclusion in Publishing, which drove her career-long passion for bold voices the world had never heard before.

After years of then partnering with major houses as a book editor and ghostwriter, including having edited phenomenal big-name books such as Zerlina Maxwell’s The End of White Politics (Hachette) and Paola Ramos’ Finding Latinx: In Search of the Voices Redefining Latino Identity (Vintage), among so many others, she is now back to her roots as a literary agent with a growing list of bold titles.

About the agency:

As a literary agency, we are thrilled to work with ambitious voices and ideas — like yours — and invest in the ideas inside you that are bursting to come out. Together, we will elevate your concepts, your words and your author brand to its full potential. Art + Deco Agency is an agency built around voices that the world has tried to silence — marginalized, underrepresented and unconventional voices. And even if an author is not from these communities themselves, they respect them and are ready to share their stories in ways that do not denigrate or subjugate these communities. We strongly affirm the principles of Diversity & Inclusion and live by those principles here every day.

We’re NOT a stuffy, old-school, corporate buttoned-up-blazer kind of agency. We’re a hands-on boutique agency seeking to work with new ideas and progressive minds who share, reflect and continue to elevate our stated ideals. We help our authors build brands, not just books, and we push them to be better writers than they were when they came to us, continuing to push themselves for new ideas. Good writing never goes out of style, and we live for the moment when we find the books that we know can change the world. Here at Art + Deco, our team works together to find the best quality of writing in a collaborative environment that encourages everyone to come as they are and bring their unique perspectives to the table. There’s no need for “casual Fridays” here because we encourage every member of our team to come as they are: bold, brilliant, radically unique and ready to help our authors take the world by storm.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Lynnette Novak of The Seymour Agency

Lynnette Novak is a literary agent with The Seymour Agency.

Prior to joining The Seymour Agency, Lynnette spent 17 years freelance editing. She worked with new writers, advanced writers, as well as the New York Times and the USA Today bestselling authors.

Lynnette earned a Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Manitoba, where she specialized in English and French. She excelled in Advanced Creative Writing in university and studied writing for children and teens through the Institute of Children’s Literature. She was a Pitch Wars mentor in 2015 and 2016. Both her mentees acquired an agent.

Although Lynnette was born and raised in Manitoba, Canada, she now lives in Minnesota with her husband, twin girls, and many pets. Her personal interests include reading, writing, exercising at the gym (okay, that’s a love/hate relationship), working on an assortment of crafts, all things having to do with animals (if she could own a farm, zoo, and animal shelter, she would), and enjoying time with family and friends.

She loves dark and suspenseful, mysterious twists, unique worlds, light and funny, a good love story, and lots of voice. Lynnette is always looking for own voices, diverse, and LGBTQ+ authors and wants to share more of these marginalized voices with the world.

Lynnette is seeking:

In adult fiction: thrillers, psychological suspense, horror, contemporary romance, romantic comedy, and mysteries (traditional, amateur sleuth, and cozy).

In young adult fiction: thrillers, psychological suspense, horror, contemporary, mysteries, fantasy, and sci-fi.

In middle grade: contemporary, horror, fantasy, sci-fi, action/adventure, mystery, and humor.

In children’s fiction: picture books (non-rhyming preferred).

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Ariana Philips of Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency

Ariana Philips is a literary agent with Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency.

Ariana represents both fiction and nonfiction for adult and kid’s books.

She’s interested in literary and commercial fiction, particularly upmarket women’s fiction, stories with unique family dynamics, and historical hooks. She likes gritty stories that have an authentic voice, a well-crafted plot, and carefully developed characters. She’s on the hunt for smart romantic comedies, both for the adult and YA market. In nonfiction, she’s interested in popular history and science; illustrated gift books; true crime; sports; social issues; and cookbooks and food narratives. In YA and middle grade, she’s looking for contemporary stories with an original hook and voice.

 

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Caitlin White of Emerald City Literary Agency

Caitlin White is a literary agent with Emerald City Literary Agency.

Caitlin is a writer and editor who was previously the Interim Books Editor for Bustle, and she has written about YA books for HelloGiggles, Bustle, Elle, and Glamour. Caitlin brought her passion for YA and MG to Emerald City Literary Agency in 2019 as an intern before being promoted to Assistant Agent. She currently lives in Ottawa, Ontario, but is from the Boston area.

Caitlin is starting to build her own list, and so she is now open to select submissions in young adult and middle grade fiction and will represent projects alongside ECLA agents Mandy Hubbard and Linda Epstein.

In young adult and middle grade fiction: Caitlin is looking for whodunnits that harken back to Agatha Christie (think: Maureen Johnson’s Truly Devious series), pretty much anything that makes her feel like summer (her favorite book is Judy Blume’s Summer Sisters), rom-coms with an original hook, stories about non-toxic groups of friends, magical realism that feels grounded (like Anna-Marie McLemore’s When the Moon Was Ours), unabashedly feminist POVs, and contemporary witches set in a real-life world, like These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling. (If it’s similar to The Craft or Practical Magic, she will likely read it.) She is always interested in seeing submissions from BIPOC and LGBTQ+ authors. Sorry, but she is not the right person for high fantasy.

 

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Devon Halliday of Transatlantic Literary

Devon Halliday is a literary agent with Transatlantic Literary.

Devon joined Transatlantic as a Literary Agent in the summer of 2020, with prior experience at Sanford J. Greenburger Associates, Susanna Lea Associates, Writers House, Maria B. Campbell Associates, and Folio Literary Management in agenting and scouting. She grew up in Athens, OH, and studied Comparative Literature at Brown University. After years in the NYC publishing scene, she has returned to Ohio and is building a list at Transatlantic in literary and upmarket fiction and niche nonfiction.

“I’ve worked with a vast range of authors across all genres, and I’m always excited to discover new subjects and ways of seeing the world. With that said, here are a few of the things I gravitate towards:”

In Fiction:

  • Literary and upmarket writing, which means striking that perfect balance between precision, surprise, and clarity
  • Stories that complicate good vs. evil, protagonist vs. antagonist, strong vs. weak
  • Speculative fiction and meta-fiction, a couple clicks along the spectrum but stopping short of high fantasy/hard sci-fi
  • Unusual, trope-subverting, or repurposed story structures
  • Timely though not time-restricted topics such as climate change, feminism, internet culture
  • Intensely memorable characters who feel as complicated as real people (esp. millennials)
  • Impeccable spelling and grammar, the Oxford comma, creative (and consistent) uses of punctuation
  • A love story whose complications arise from the flaws of the characters involved, rather than from the machinations of the plot
  • Branching video game-esque plotlines (Russian Doll, Detroit: Become Human)
  • Young adult with any of the elements above

In Nonfiction:

  • Popular science, philosophy, psychology, medicine, etc.: anything that introduces a layperson (me) to niche and fascinating subjects
  • Big-picture memoirs or investigative journalism that tackle broad societal truths
  • Essay collections on the unique and bizarre
  • Research-backed explorations of productivity culture, millennials, fandom and gaming culture, news addiction, etc.
  • Passionate, invested writing about subjects I never would have known I was interested in

She is NOT seeking:

— Thrillers, horror, true crime, mysteries, or hardcore suspense
— Pop/instagram poetry, screenplays, or novels in verse
— Children’s books (though I do consider YA–see above)
— Religious, spiritual, or self-help books
— Retellings of classic stories
— Unreliable narrators (emotionally/observationally unreliable is fine, but I try to avoid narrators that actively mislead the reader about the events of the book)
— Characters whose lives start out bad and get progressively worse, or plots that rely on their characters’ humiliation
— Protagonists who are writers, MFA candidates, etc.
— Books about dogs

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Cortney Radocaj of Belcastro Agency

Cortney Radocaj is a literary agent with Belcastro Agency.

In both YA and Adult, she is seeking:

  • LGBTQIA+ (particularly F/F)
  • Neurodiversity
  • Contemporary
  • Horror
  • Fantasy
  • Sci-fi
  • Subtle mythology/fairytale retellings
  • Paranormal

She is NOT accepting:

– MG
– Children’s/Picture Books
– Crime/detective fiction
– Mysteries
– Political/military/spy thrillers
– Non-fiction
– Novellas, short story collections, poetry collections, or screenplays

Some tropes she loves:

– enemies-to-lovers
– oops there’s only one bed
– mc slipped and rival caught them and now it’s INTIMATE
– grumpy character lights up around sunshine character
– sunshine character who is absolutely capable of kicking your ass
– found family
– quiet character is snarkiest

“Born and raised in Eastern Washington, I’m currently a literary agent at the Belcastro Agency. Reading and writing have been my passion for as long as I can remember. I graduated from NYU in 2017. My fur-babies keep me on my toes; between my sweet, destructive lab-mix Rhaegar and my fiesty calico Holly, I definitely have my hands full. When I’m not doing book-related things, I’m spending time with my husband, my animals, or attempting a new craft I’ll never spend enough time on to truly get good at. Supernatural and The Office are constantly running on my TV, and I adore watching creative shows (i.e. baking shows and Project Runway are my ish).

“I’m a member of the LGBTQIA+ community (#BisexualPride! <3) and of the neurodivergent community. I love to see healthy representation of queer and neurodivergent identities, especially in SFF, and I’m ecstatic to find and represent books that would have benefited me as a teen. I adore seeing works that celebrate and normalize these experiences, particularly in YA. Compelling characters are what grab me the most; I love books with strong, dynamic, complex characters that have complicated and nuanced relationships with others—especially romances! I love romantic threads that weave in seamlessly with the plot and characters’ motivations, particularly in science fiction & fantasy. In regard to POVs, the closer, the better; I want to live inside characters’ heads when I read, and love as little distance as possible. I enjoy when authors break stereotypes and tropes, and I love when plots and characters surprise her, leaving her breathless on the edge of her seat.

“Some of my favorite books: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas; City of Bones by Cassandra Clare; The Shining and IT by Stephen King; Tithe by Holly Black; Skinned by Robin Wasserman; This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab; The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth

“I’m an ISFJ to the core with a penchant for punk, a weakness for puns, and the ferocity of dragons.”

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Linda S. Glaz of Hartline Literary

Linda S. Glaz is a literary agent with Hartline Literary.

Linda is an experienced editor, reviewer and writer, has been a proofreader for two publishers, an editorial assistant to for Hartline becoming an agent four years ago. She has worked as a professional reviewer for a romance site, and just loves anything to do with books. She’s extremely active in the judging community and speaks at conferences nationwide. She is also a member of AWSA, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association which takes her speaking from libraries to ladies teas, churches, and conferences. Linda understands writers, because she IS a writer.

List of specific wants: “I don’t connect with a lot of nonfiction, but would always be happy to have peek. However, if you’ve got a great romance, either contemporary, suspense, or historical fiction, you’ll probably make me happy. Please no works that include any graphic sexuality or profanity. Please no children’s books. And any other genre, if well-written, will certainly get my notice. Well-written…well-written…well-written. I’m not choosy as long as it’s …well-written. The most important thing being whether or not I have a place I can take it to. Just because I say no doesn’t mean it isn’t a great work!”

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Jared Johnson of Olswanger Literary

Jared Johnson is a literary agent with Olswanger Literary.

“I’m a literary associate with Olswanger Literary. I mostly represent science fiction, fantasy (any kind), magical realism, mystery, and thriller, but I am currently working on some historical fiction. In nonfiction, I am looking for narrative-driven books, and I am drawn to accessible scholarship that engages with current social issues. In particular, I am interested in works that challenge long-held cultural narratives.”

Jared is a recovering academic. After several years of academic research in the humanities and teaching writing and history, he turned his efforts toward pursuing a career in publishing. Most of his time is spent reading good books, editing, and trying to claw his way out from under a mountain of emails. In his downtime, he can be found outdoors with his dogs, building a fantasy team for the Overwatch League, or playing Magic: The Gathering with his nephews.

“In fiction, I love encountering new, vibrant worlds that feel like they extend beyond the borders of the page. I am drawn into a story by parent/child relationships, themes of reconciliation and redemption, strong non-romance relationships (especially where you would expect romance), and misunderstood rivals. Really, I am taken in by stories that push characters to find out who they are in relation to themselves and to one another. Also heists… I want to read all the heists.

​”In nonfiction, I love books that address the origins of cultural values, especially in matters of race, religion, and language. I am always on the search for books that call into question cultural myths or the continuity of ideas. I want to read works that make me view an old concept in a new way. More recently, I find myself being drawn strongly to narratives about people who have caused a positive impact or left a positive legacy in the world or their community.”

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Savannah Brooks of Jennifer De Chiara Literary

Savannah Brooks is a literary agent with Jennifer De Chiara Literary.

Savannah joined the Jennifer De Chiara team in 2018 as an Associate Literary Agent after interning for a year and a half. She earned her MFA, focused in creative nonfiction, from Hamline University and her BS in marketing management from Virginia Tech. As well as agenting, she works as a teaching artist at the Loft Literary Center and is a reader for multiple literary magazines. Her own creative work has been published in Barely South Review, Hobart, Lime Hawk, and Every Writer’s Resource, among others. When not immersed in the world of words, she can be found on her motorcycle, at her MMA gym, or lounging at one of Minnesota’s 11,842 lakes.

She is seeking:

“I mainly represent kid-lit (PB, MG, and YA), and I’m interested in books that focus on friendship, conflicting identity, and the theme of truth. I’m always drawn in by a protagonist venturing into a realm where society says they don’t belong (think swapping gender norms), and characters with weird obsessions are a weird obsession of mine—teach me strange new things, and I’m yours. I’m all about magical realism, non-western mythology, and modern retellings, but I’m not the best fit for high fantasy or science fiction.

“In picture books, I’m searching for projects that teach about and celebrate different cultures and places in the world and those that tackle serious topics in really accessible ways. For MG, I learn very heavily into action-adventure, especially those based on global folklore and mythology, and I love a snarky narrator and spooky situations. In YA, I’m looking for multicultural and queer perspectives on everything from modern teen experiences to reframing classic tropes like vampires and witches. I’ve been particularly wanting to see some horror.

“Mostly, I’m invested in representing the diverse world in which we live and would like to see that reflected in a cast of characters. Show me variations in race, sexuality, gender, dis/ability, and ethnicity without that difference being a point of contention, and I’ll be thrilled. Call me an idealist, but my goal for each book is to give kids/teens an opportunity to point to the page and say, “Finally, there I am.”

“I am very selective about taking on fiction works for adult audiences, but when I do, I look for two genres: 1) contemporary novels that walk the line of being funny while still adding to a larger sociopolitical conversation, and 2) thrillers that add to a larger sociopolitical conversation (but are NOT law-enforcement focused, including FBI/CIA). I would love to hear more from marginalized voices, regardless of whether or not marginalization is a central theme.”

 

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Michelle Richter of Fuse Literary

Michelle Richter is a Senior Literary Agent with Fuse Literary.

Michelle joined Fuse Literary in 2014 from St. Martin’s Press, where she worked on a variety of fiction and nonfiction including MELISSA EXPLAINS IT ALL by Melissa Joan Hart. She has a Master’s degree in Publishing from Pace University, where she is an adjunct lecturer. Michelle’s clients have won or been finalists for such awards as the Edgar, Mary Higgins Clark, Strand Critics, Anthony, Agatha, Lefty, ITW Thriller, Macavity, Barry, Derringer, IPPY, and International Book Award. She is a member of Sisters in Crime.

Michelle is seeking:

-suspense
-mystery
-psychological thrillers
-domestic suspense
-women’s fiction
-book club fiction
-YA mystery/thriller
-select contemporary YA

She’s especially eager to find suspense and psychological thrillers with complex lead characters. BIPOC, LGBTQ, and disabled voices in fiction always welcome. Michelle loves unreliable narrators, stories of family secrets, friendships, and sibling relationships. Her favorite writers include Colson Whitehead, Celeste Ng, Ruth Ware, Laura Lippman, Megan Miranda, Lori Rader-Day, Jennifer Hillier, and Tana French. She’d love to find the next BATH HAUS, SUCH A FUN AGE, WHEN NO ONE IS WATCHING, THE LADY UPSTAIRS, LONG BRIGHT RIVER, THE DUTCH HOUSE, EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU, WINTER COUNTS, BLACKTOP WASTELAND, or BLUEBIRD, BLUEBIRD.