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Friday, August 9, 2013

Agent Interview with TINA WEXLER (and a giveaway)!

AGENT INTERVIEW: THE FABULOUS TINA WEXLER
~~~~~~~~~~~~
Today we have agent Tina Wexler of ICM on the blog, a woman who has changed many a writer's life, including my own. I am so grateful for everything she's done for me, and for the books she's ushered into the world with her savvy and skills. As lovers of the written word, we are all better off because Tina Wexler decided to become a literary agent.
 
If she could have heard the "WHAAAA? AHHH!!! AHHHH! AHHHHHH!" scream that came from my mouth when I received an offer of representation email from her, and witnessed the horrible tip-toe "the floor is hot lava and I'm dancing, dancing, dancing on it and waving my hands like a crazy person" scene that my husband had to watch, she would be embarrassed for both of us. But those few minutes remain the most thrilling, eye-watering, heart-filling moment of my writing journey. And that's the truth.

WISH LIST QUESTION:
Are you feeling the itch for anything in your inbox lately in terms of middle grade and young adult fiction?
 
 TINA'S ANSWER: I’m always on the lookout for stories that
subvert expectations, have a captivating voice, and explore big
questions without feeling heavy or moralizing. I found all three of
those things in THE ACTUAL &TRUTHFUL
ADVENTURES OF BECKY THATCHER (*Jess note: Aw, thanks agent-
lady!). To be more specific, I love contemporary YA and MG that
has a hint of magic in it, a darkness beneath the surface, a
something-else-going-on. I’m a sucker for modern folktales and
retold myths and legends (or retold American classics, as with your
book.) I’m always open to verse novels, funny school/family stories
that travel new ground, and stories that unfold in unusual ways (for example, the story is told in reverse order or jumps back and forth
in time—and not in a time traveler way.) Lastly, I’m a huge fan of
unreliable narrators. 
~~
CHARACTER QUESTION: What are three things you look for in a middle grade or young adult protagonist?

TINA'S ANSWER: I’m looking for flawed characters who are wrestling with real problems (externally and internally), who will make me laugh (intentionally or otherwise), and who will change the way I see the world. Characters with a distinct point of view.
~~
LONG-WINDED QUESTION: My Twitter feed pretty much consists of agents, editors, and writers, so I have this picture in my head that NYC is “a small world after all” where you agents and editors and publishers are all bumping into each other like crazy at the grocery store, on the subway, in the shoe section of Bloomingdales, etc. How often do you have lunch/schmooze with other agents and editors when it’s NOT for business? And is it difficult to turn off the business side and just hang out and talk about things other than books?
 
TINA'S ANSWER: The thing about the lunches (and the drinks and the conferences, etc) is that much of that time we AREN’T talking about the business side of publishing, even when it’s an official business lunch. In my experience, it’s the off-topic conversations that give me the best sense of who an editor is, how they view the world, what their interests are, and therefore what I should send them. The off-the-cuff comment about growing up on a peacock farm that makes me think, “She’d be perfect for that new MG I’m shopping.” The family vacation to Yosemite, an allergy to cotton, an unshakable love for the movie Dirty Dancing: this is the information that carves out a submission list. And if we talk about books now and then, well, who can blame us?
~~
FAVORITES QUESTION: Who are three or four MG/YA characters who, for whatever reason, have been memorable to you and/or have touched your heart with their role in a story?
 
TINA'S ANSWER: Jack from Miss Stretchberry’s class in Sharon Creech's LOVE THAT DOG is a kid I want to introduce to my son, and I want to plant sunflowers with Willow Chance from COUNTING BY 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan. I love/hate/love the unreliable narrator in LIAR by Justine Larbalestier, and I’m reading CHIME by Franny Billingsley right now and already know it’ll be hard to shake Briony from my mind. Lastly, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Professor McGonagall from the HARRY POTTER series, who is an all-time favorite and not just because we first meet her in cat form.
~~
REQUISITE PIZZA QUESTION: I tend to celebrate successes with pizza. When you offered representation, I got my favorite pizza. Book deal news, same thing (hey, I never claimed to be fancy). I plan on visiting New York City at some point, and I have to know: Based on your own tasting experiences, what’s the name of the best pizza place in NYC?
 
TINA'S ANSWER: You are asking the wrong person. I’ll eat pizza from anywhere and call it the best. But I can tell you that my usual haunts are Angelo’s in midtown, Joe’s in the village, and Fascati’s in Brooklyn. And I look forward to splitting a pie with you when you come to NY.
~~

Any Fall 2013 releases from clients that you’d like to mention?


TINA'S ANSWER: This fall will mark the conclusion to two YA 
trilogies—the MEMENTO NORA series by Angie Smibert and the 
CROAK series by Gina Damico (*Jess note: I LOVE the CROAK books!*). I 
admit, I’m a bit (a lot) choked up about saying goodbye to these 
characters and their world.

Fortunately, this fall will also bring new books in the SWIPE series 
by Evan Angler and the GRAVEDIGGERS series by Christopher 
Krovatin, along with three standout standalone middle grade titles: 
Eva Ibbotson’s THE ABOMINABLES, Kurtis Scaletta’s THE 
WINTER OF THE ROBOTS, and Anne Ursu’s THE REAL BOY. 

Lastly—but certainly not least—September will introduce the world to the irrepressible Lola Zuckerman, the star of a new chapter book series from Boyds Mill Press, LAST-BUT-NOT-LEAST LOLA.

Tina, thank you for your time! Tina has been kind enough to offer a free MG or YA book by one of her clients to a lucky person who comments on this post! Just include your preference for a middle grade or young adult title in your comment and next week I'll announce the winner and email him/her with a few choices J

(Oh, and click HERE to read the first two chapters of Anne Ursu's THE REAL BOY! I have three words for you: MUST READ NOW)

47 comments:

  1. What a great interview. Tina sounds like a delightful person to know and to work with.

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  2. Interesting interview! Enter me for the MG book.

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  3. Awesome interview! Ooh, I see some of her clients books I'm very interested in! For the books, I'm going with MG. :)

    Thanks Jess and Tina.

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    Replies
    1. I can't wait for a bunch of those books either!

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  4. Jess, I'm so happy for you, especially knowing you've signed with an awesome editor. After reading this post, I have a few more Must-Read books to add to my list.

    Oh, and if I'm lucky enough to win? Surprise me!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Beth! And a surprise it'll be :)

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  5. I've heard Tina is an amazing agent. Love the interview. Much more exciting the usual dry ones we see with agents.

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  6. She gathers information by listening to the lives of others - now that's a smart woman.

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    1. Yep, I found that to be pretty cool insider info :)

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  7. Awesome interview. It was great learning what type of manuscripts Tina is looking for. And loved hearing what those lunch meetings are really like. Tina sounds like a fantastic agent.

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    1. She's the best! Thanks for reading the interview!

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  8. All I can say is that the interview was great and that you have a lovely agent!

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    Replies
    1. Aw, thanks :) Wishing the best for everyone still hunting for their agent match!

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  9. Great interview - and congrats again, Jess! If I won I think I'd go with MG - thanks!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Amy! Good luck in the giveaway.

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  10. I may have jumped and danced just as crazily when you got that offer, Jess! I'm so glad Tina was the one for you. And I can't wait for The Real Boy - we just finished reading Anne Ursu's The Cronus Chronicles around here.

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    1. You're so sweet! I loved the Cronus Chronicles and those first two chapters of The Real Boy have me drooling for the whole thing...I've heard Newbery buzz about it!

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  11. How did I not know you were repped? Well, excuse the late reaction, but "Woohoo!! Yay!!" I'm so happy for you, and I really enjoyed the interview. :-)

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  12. Thank you Jess and Tina!
    Ooooh, I can't wait to read the Anne Ursu excerpt.
    Jess, I'd go into a hot lava dance, too, if I got that news from Tina Wexler!
    It's MG for me.


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    1. Thanks for reading the interview! The Anne excerpt ends on such a juicy cliffhanger. I am SO ready to read the rest :)

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  13. Thanks for the interview, Jess and Tina! I learned a lot about what Tina likes and about those editor lunches (I too thought they were for business always :)). I write YA in "unusual formats" with "dark" stuff so I guess when I am ready to query I'll add Tina to the list!

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  14. Great interview - thanks Jess :)

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  15. Thanks so much for the interview!

    I can't wait to read your book, Jess :)

    I'm interested in MG books

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    Replies
    1. Glad you liked the interview! Thanks for the kind words about my book~ just a year more to wait :)

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  16. Tina is so cool! Great interview! MG books for me (is YOUR book on the table?). Thanks!

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    1. I agree, Tina is very cool :) My book won't be on any table for quite awhile, but thanks for asking!

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  17. Tina is so cool! Great interview! MG books for me (is YOUR book on the table?). Thanks!

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  18. It's nice to know there agents out there looking for something, even if it's not what I write.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Patsy~ feel free to pass on Tina's preferences if you happen to know someone who might have a manuscript that fits!

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  19. It's so great to finally meet your wonderful agent.
    Thanks for the interview and the giveaway (totally going for MG).

    ~Akoss

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  20. What a great chat! It sounds like you are lucky to have Tina, and Tina's lucky to have you, Jess. :) I can't wait until you guys get to have pizza together in New York.

    If I happen to win the drawing, I choose MG all the way!

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    1. Thanks Tara! Good luck in the drawing :)

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