Agent Monday: NY Agent Seeking Non-Cheesy Rom-Com

Man giving woman gift.Happy Agent Monday, everyone!  I just spent a great weekend at the Mid-Atlantic SCBWI Conference in Virginia (thanks, everyone, for having me!). There, I sat on the Agents’ Panel and was asked the inevitable question: What are you looking for? On my list, as always, is a great women’s novel destined to be the next great chick flick. I’ve put this request out a number of times, but so far? “She’s just not that into them” (to paraphrase a flick). Here’s what I do and don’t want…

First of all, anyone who knows me, knows I love my chick flicks, and lately? There has been a dry spell of new ones worth watching. So, quite selfishly, I’d love to find that novel that could become that movie that I can absolutely love. But, and this is very important to you folks about to press “send,” I do NOT like sappy romance, or category romance. Nicholas Sparks is NOT NOT NOT my thing, at all.

So what do I like? Fresh and funny and spot on. Quirky and relatable and flawed females with strength. Not ditzy. Not all-I-need-is-a-man. Guy heroes who are flawed and relatable and believable. Real stories that could really actually maybe happen! And that bring something new to the genre.

Why haven’t I found this yet? I’m not sure, and I’m kinda bummed, frankly. What I get is more of the same stuff already out there. The Bridget Jones rip off, complete with the clueless why-don’t-you-have-a-man-yet-you-are-getting-old-you-know mother. The ridiculous who-would-ever-be-friends-with-this-person best friend who is super-slutty or otherwise over the top at all times. The Stephanie Plum characters, but set in another town. And, yes, those anguished Nicholas Sparks ultra romantic novels. Plus plenty of those “my life is crap so I relocated to somewhere mysterious and/or exotic and found my groove with the handyman” sorts.

Okay, love is tough. I shouldn’t be jaded and I don’t want to give up hope. I know my “perfect match” is out there somewhere. What’s on my checklist for this? Something that connects with realities TODAY and gives us a fresh look at it in a way that makes us nod and laugh. A real heroine dealing with today’s challenges that we can root for, and real guys that we might actually need to avoid or to give the time of day to more. An original voice and fun and fresh situations. PERSONALITY! Real heart – not oozy fuzzy lovey dovey stuff. NOT that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s just not “my type.” And, in a smart and funny way, yes, love.

red rose and dobermannSo “if you like Pina Coladas” then chances are you should keep on moving, but if you’re “writer seeking agent” with something fresh to offer, I just might be into you.

 
*Marie is an Associate Agent at The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency in New York City. To keep up with all her Agent Monday posts, subscribe to her site by clicking on the Follow link located on her page on the upper left margin.

Book Review: Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella

What sort of book would you like to have if you were sick in bed all day, like me? (Insert pity party here… I’m getting better, though, really). Well for me, I wanted something that would entertain, that would make me laugh, that wouldn’t hurt my head too much more than it already hurts (aw, more pity!), and that would make me forget my worries for a while.  Fortunately, I was handed the perfect novel for what ails me: Twenties Girl by Sophia Kinsella (Dial).

All day today, I’ve been snuggled under blankets, sipping hot tea and flipping pages of this novel, thoroughly entertained.  I read it from start to finish, with pleasure. I love when that happens. Really, it’s such a rare thing. I don’t know about you, but all too often a book has a cute premise, an attractive cover, but by page 100 or so, I’m beyond bored, or aggravated by the writing. Sigh.

I’ve always enjoyed Kinsella’s Shopaholic books (if you get a kick out of the ridiculous and love everything British, definitely check these out… ignore the movie — that was a dud in comparison), but I especially loved Twenties Girl.  The premise is both touching and funny.  A great aunt who dies at the age of 105, forgotten by the world, never visited by family. The ghost of this same aunt, in the form of her flapper 23 year old self, haunting her great-niece. The mystery of a lost necklace. The truth of a girl who stupidly pines for an ex (something everyone can identify with at some point in his or her life…admit it, it’s true!).  And a cast of interesting characters, including the best friend who isn’t, the parents who fill you with a confusing mix of love and guilt, and the broody guy with a secret.

One especially beautiful scene occurs when the heroine visits a nursing home and sees the youthful spirits in each wheelchair-bound elder rise up and dance. Fabulous writing.

You might hear people refer to this novel dismissively as chicklit and light and fluffy. But, honestly, it was a hoot to read, engrossing, and had some real depth. Everything you could want from a book on a cold wintry afternoon. Let this novel work its ghostly magic on you.  Highly recommended.