Posted by: Kathy Temean | September 18, 2013

New Book – Give-A-Way – John Cusick Agent/Author Interview


cherry money baby

Had to let you know about great agent, great author, and all around nice guy, John Cusick’s new book – CHERRY MONEY BABY.

John has agreed to let me offer a signed copy of his book as give-a-way.

Anyone that leaves a comment will get their name put in the hat one time. If you would like to collect more entries into the hat you can do the following:

1 entry everything you tweet this link (One a day).

1 entry for putting this link on facebook

1 entry for putting up this post on your blog.

2 entries if you reblog this post.

5 entries if you talk about the book on your facebook page or blog.

Please come back and leave an update on what you did by September 28th in the comment section, so I know how many times to put your name in the hat for the drawing. I will announce the winner on Sunday September 29th. Good Luck!

Here is John’s bio:

John joined The Greenhouse Literary Agency in January 2013 after several years with at The Scott Treimel NY agency, where he began as an assistant and rose to be an agent with a fast-developing client list. As well as being a YA author in his own right, John is a sought-after speaker on writing, both at writers’ conferences and via webinars. You can read his blog here:

What John is seeking: Fiction by North American authors, from Picturebooks and Middle Grade through Young Adult.  Particularly keen to see MG (and maybe YA) for boys. Fast-paced/thrilling/heart-breaking stories. Contemporary realism, historicals, speculative fiction, sci-fi and fresh fantasy, villains with vulnerabillity, bad decisions with best intentions, boldly imagined worlds, striking imagery, characters with histories, stories about siblings and about middle America.

Below is the interview I had with John:

Before we get into talking about your new book; how did your first year at Greenhouse Literary go? Anything exciting you can share with us?

It’s been absolutely amazing. Since starting with Greenhouse I’ve sold six titles and signed seven new clients, including my very first picture book author/illustrators— and the year isn’t over yet! Greenhouse provides a nurturing atmosphere for authors, very hands on, and its international reach allows us to place projects all over the world. It’s wonderful to be a part of that. I’m especially looking forward to our agency retreat in February; it’ll be a blast to spend time with clients, as well as with Sarah Davies (head of Greenhouse) and our phenomenal U.K. agent Polly Nolan. I’m told there will also be a talent show. With ukuleles.

I started writing CHERRY MONEY BABY on index cards, in Fort Green Park in Brooklyn, in August of 2010. The project changed radically from draft to draft. I started with a big baggy monster of a novel, and carved away the useless stuff until I got down to its heart: the relationship between Cherry and Ardelia. Really, this is a story about a complicated friendship. It just took me a few years to figure that out.

What was the spark that started this book?

My agent, Scott Treimel, suggested I consider a story about teen pregnancy, which set my gears turning. In the end, CHERRY isn’t about teen pregnancy really, but that was the seminal brainstorm. Then I saw A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC by Stephen Sondheim when I was in London for the London Book Fair. I was transfixed by the interweaving relationships in that show, the class interplay, and also the big move to the country halfway through. Part of CHERRY’s particular flavor owes a lot to NIGHT MUSIC.

How many revisions did you do before you were ready to submit your book?

I did three major revisions with Scott before sending the manuscript to Deb Wayshack, my fabulous editor at Candlewick with whom I worked on GIRL PARTS. Deb helped me really hone the story and find its soul. I learned so much during the editing process— about character, plot, and language— that just as we were drawing close to copyedits, I asked Deb if she’d let me try rewriting the manuscript from word one. Candlewick agreed, and ninety days later I had a new version of CHERRY that was radically different, and infinitely superior. Doing a complete rewrite was really liberating, and the result was a much stronger, deeper novel.

Did you agent Scott Treimel negotiate the contract?

He did. At the time I was an agent with Scott Treimel NY, Scott’s agency, which meant I had a unique inside glimpse into the negotiation process—which is always fascinating, but especially when it’s your book being discussed.

Do you plan on writing a sequel for this book?

I don’t think so. Cherry and Ardelia’s story feels complete to me. I don’t like to end books too neatly; I like to leave room for my characters to go on living and breathing and changing. I don’t envision a sequel to CHERRY MONEY BABY, though I do like to imagine Cherry and Ardelia getting up to…Oop, I should stop there or risk spoilers!

Have you started writing the sequel to Girl Parts?

I wrote a sequel to GIRL PARTS, actually, which is hiding somewhere on my hard drive. It’s not quite ready for public consumption yet, but maybe someday soon. I wrote it in a single month after watching an episode of DOCTOR WHO penned by Neil Gaiman. It’s a bit more sci-fi, and involves Rose’s journey back to Massachusetts. But again…spoilers…

Do you have other books in the works?

I do! I’m working on something now I’m very excited about. I won’t go into too much detail, except to say it’s BIG and, in my opinion, the best thing I’ve ever written. At least, so far.

Do you try to spend a certain amount of time writing?

I do. I try to write for at least ninety-minutes to two-hours a day, five days a week. That schedule has slackened somewhat since I first started writing in college, when it was three hours a day, every day. Real Life has a tendency to intervene, but I try to keep that writing time sacred.

Any plans to write, middle grade novels, new adult, or adult books?

I’d likely go middle grade before I wrote for adults; my brain is pretty hardwired into the m.g. and y.a. universe at the moment. In addition to writing novels, though, I do work on other literary projects. I’m in the midst of writing a comedic web series about video game developers, and also a musical or two. Lord knows when any of that will see the light of day, but I do like to experiment in different mediums.
Oh, and then there’s the super top-secret animated series idea I’ve been developing with my buddy Evan: BEAR SUB.

Do you have any tips for writers on improving their writing?

Read your stuff aloud, that’s a biggie. You’ll notice wonky sentences, run-ons, and boring bits. Reading your stuff aloud to others works even better.

Read Stephen King’s ON WRITING, read Donald Maass’s WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL. Read poetry. Write poetry! Avoid the internet.

When sitting down to write a scene, consider these things in this order:
1) What does your character want?
2) What is the most horrible thing that can happen to your character, preventing her from getting what she wants?
3) What is the most interesting way to convey the horrible thing and your character’s response? If you don’t have 1 and 2 down first, it doesn’t matter how good you are at 3: the scene will fall flat.

Any words of wisdom on finding an agent?

Send your best, most compelling, most unique work. Follow submission guidelines. Don’t labor for decades revising, perfecting, submitting one project. Move on. Write new books. Come back to the same agents with something better, something fresher. Keep at it.

What direction do you see the market going in? More or less hard covers? More or less ebooks? More or less fantasy? Paranormal? Dystopian? Horror? Humor?
I think genre fiction (with sci-fi, fantastical, or paranormal elements) will always be strong, and I think these different genres will continue to blend and recombine. The industry is less trendy than it was three years ago, so trying to be “the next” HUNGER GAMES / TWILIGHT / PERCY JACKSON won’t serve you (not that it ever did). Now is a great time for contemporary realism, stories about real characters in real situations, with terrific emotional depth.

Before you go can you tell us your likes and dislikes in novels?

A pet peeve of mine is passive or reactive protagonists. In contemporary realism, these tend to be long-suffering narrators who have endured unimaginable sorrows, and we’re meant to engage with them based purely on pity, apparently. In genre fiction, this tends to be the Reluctant Hero, who just wants to blend in, or live a normal life, but is tasked with saving the kingdom. No thanks. I love proactive heroes, take-charge, take-no-prisoners, tough protagonists. I want heroes who really want something, and who go out and get it. Flawed or virtuous, give me some fire in the belly. Those are the characters (and people) I admire most and want to read about.

Don’t miss out on reading John’s new book. I can’t wait to read it, since his last book is one of my favorites. I expect no less with this one. Thanks John for sharing your time with us.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Hi John, I appreciated your poignant info on improving your writing, and especially the three areas to consider when writing a scene. Thanks for posting Kathy!


  2. Can’t wait to read this one! Loved Girl Parts – please don’t wait too long on the sequel! For any fans of Girl Parts, John’s short story “Abandon Change” is set in the same world and available on Amazon.


  3. The cover is killer. I’m at once jealous of the girl, want to be the girl, hate her, and want to be her friend. Oh to be 17 again! Can’t wait to read it.


  4. Thanks for sharing! I’m looking forward to reading your book.


  5. I love the title and think the cover is great as well. Thanks for an interesting interview.


  6. Reblogged this on Darlene Beck-Jacobson and commented:
    Here’s a wonderful INTERVIEW with the author of the great YA GIRL PARTS.


    • Darlene,

      You are the winner of John’s book. I guess having your name in the hat for the reblogs, etc. helped. Remember to send you address for John.




  7. I’m so impressed that you write up to two hours a day, in addition to your work as an agent! It must be a challenge to balance it all. Congrats on your new book!


  8. When do you find time to sleep with holding down two jobs as writer and agent? 😉 Congrats on the new book! And thanks for the tips on what to think about when writing a scene!


  9. I re/tweeted about this giveaway: 🙂


  10. I’d love to see an MG by John – and I love the three things for a scene. That condenses so much valuable advice into a neat package.


  11. And you can check out my reblog of this post at:


  12. Girl Parts I was hooked. Congrats John you indeed are a fab agent and author I wish you all the best.


  13. Great interview. I’m going to have to read your books, John. You sound like a very interesting person.


  14. Congrats, John. Can’t wait to read this new one. 🙂


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