Recently I did an online interview where I had to answer the question: What is the best part of being an agent? That was an easy one to answer: Making a talented writer’s dream come true.
Writers are huge dreamers. They dream up stories, forming tales from wisps of ideas, fragments of memories, touches of creativity. And their dreams for their future should be huge, too. Finishing that novel. Getting the right agent. Creating something an editor will feel passionate about. Seeing that novel published and set into someone’s hands. Touching a reader with their words. Perhaps even changing a reader’s life.
I’m so grateful to play a part in making those dreams happen.
At the start of this month, I was thrilled to meet my client Carmella Van Vleet in person. But really, I felt like I had met her the very first time I read her wonderful middle grade manuscript ELIZA BING IS (NOT) A BIG FAT QUITTER. The novel is about a girl with ADHD who must prove to others (and herself) that she can stick with something to the end. I found the author’s voice strong and funny and warm. I fell in love with this manuscript immediately, and connected with the writing. When Carmella and I spoke on the phone when I made “the call” to her, we connected right away, too.
So no surprise that she and I had a great time when we finally met up in New York. And for such a happy occasion. Her debut novel has been accepted for publication by Holiday House, and we got to meet the publishing staff. Carmella and I chatted with warm and welcoming Mary Cash, the editor-in-chief, and thoroughly enjoyed seeing everyone who works so hard to make Holiday House a high quality press. And everywhere, there were books. Shelves and shelves and shelves of glorious titles.
Shelves and shelves of dreams come true… Dream big, everyone. Make your own dreams happen. And congratulations, Carmella!
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman sucked me in from the moment I opened the first page and saw those amazing illustrations. I sorely miss the illustrations that used to pepper mid-grade novels. I remember as a kid eagerly reading to the next picture, and then the next…then publishers cut these, and we were mostly left with novels that were solid words. But the illustrations in Gaiman’s book pull you in, wrap around the pages, and add to the wonderful mood. Bravo!
The story, though, is what completely entranced me. Gaiman does an amazing job of saying just enough to creep the reader out. For instance, saying a knife was “wet” instead of describing blood. That really engages your mind. Starting with the most gruesome and terrifying of beginnings ripped from our own nightmares, the author quickly captures our sympathy for Bod, the baby that escaped, and embraces the reader in an almost charming world of ghosts who raise the boy separate from the dangers of the world, until the world intrudes again.
This book feels like an instant classic. Not too scary, but shivery enough for kids. And well-crafted for readers of any age to fall in love with.
Okay, I have a confession to make. My family has been hooked on the “Hercules” TV series featuring Kevin Sorbo since it first aired about 10 years ago or so. We loved the heroics, the mythology, the wacky battle scenes, but above all we really got a kick out of the campy wit. So, yeah, we now Netflix the series, interspersed with DVD’s of high-brow quality entertainment, of course… Even if you don’t secretly watch old “Hercules” episodes at night, if you enjoy mythology, heroics, and especially campy humor, then you will certainly like reading the middle-reader novel Pandora Gets Jealous by Carolyn Hennesy (Bloomsbury Children’s Books, paperback, Jan. 2008, $12.95, ages 9-12, 256 pages).
In Pandora Gets Jealous, ancient-Greece middle-schooler Pandy, tired of being treated like some loser, decides to impress everyone by bringing in the box she’s found under her parents’ bed. A box filled with all the miseries of mankind and sealed by Zeus himself. Needless to say, Pandora’s box gets opened (by some snooty girls who’ve been tormenting Pandy), and mankind is plagued. Now Pandy is given six moons to collect the plagues, or, no duh!, doom to all. Blending teen language and humor with plenty of action, mythology and shtick, Pandora Gets Jealous is an entertaining book ‘tweens (and those closet “Hercules” fans) will surely enjoy.