Posted by: Kathy Temean | August 10, 2018

INTERVIEW: Agent of the Month – ANDREA MORRISON – Writer’s House

Andrea Morrison is August’s Agent of the Month and will be critiquing four first pages. Andrea started at Writer’s House in their California office in 2009 as an intern to Steve Malk and first learned under Brianne Johnson, and then went on to assist Rebecca Sherman and Geri Thoma. She’s had the opportunity to work closely with a variety of bestselling and award-winning authors and illustrators, in genres ranging from picture books to middle grade and YA to adult literary fiction and nonfiction. She is actively building her own list of clients.

Andrea studied Literature & Writing at University of California, San Diego and earned my MFA in Fiction from Columbia University—not only does she understand the revision process from an agent’s point of view, but she also understands it from a writer’s perspective. She truly loves editorial work, and is hands-on when it comes to helping authors revise and build projects.

Below you’ll find detailed information about the types of projects Andrea’s looking for:

FICTION:

I’m excited about literary and upmarket commercial fiction that blends gorgeous sentence-level writing with stories featuring younger protagonists, eg. Janet Fitch’s WHITE OLEANDER—one of my favorite books ever, Celeste Ng’s EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU, and Elissa Schappell’s BLUEPRINTS FOR BUILDING BETTER GIRLS. I’m a total sucker for vivid descriptions of California, and appreciate true-to-life fiction, but am also intrigued by fiction with magical elements or books that take place in worlds slightly different than our own. For example, I fell in love with Leslie Parry’s CHURCH OF MARVELS. I’m game for beautifully constructed short story collections, literary thrillers and mysteries, novels told in stories, illustrated adult books, books that take place in a variety of locales. Recent favorites: THE GIRLS FROM CORONA DEL MAR by Rufi Thorpe and GOLD FAME CITRUS by Claire Vaye Watkins. On my reading list right now: THE STAR SIDE OF BIRD HILL by Naomi Jackson and MR. SPLITFOOT by Samantha Hunt.

NONFICTION:

I’m especially selective when it comes to nonfiction, but I’m interested in narrative work—memoirs, essay collections, etc. I’m a fan of Leslie Jamison, Meghan Daum and Alex Mar. I’m curious about stories that take place close to home and in other countries, that explore little known ways of life as well as work that illuminates experiences we all have. In this category, I gravitate toward work that makes me laugh or cry or both, all in a few pages. I’m drawn toward work that’s elegant, toward work that’s provocative. I also love nonfiction that helps me understand, that makes me want to highlight sentences and write quotes in my notebook. I’m a fan of work that defies genre lines. One title I read recently and loved: Nadja Spiegelman’s I’M SUPPOSED TO PROTECT YOU FROM ALL THIS. Next on my nonfiction list: Molly Crabapple’s DRAWING BLOOD.

YOUNG ADULT:

I have a soft spot for literary YA. I like both true-to-life books and novels that include magical elements (I love low fantasy and magical realism, but I’m not the right match for high fantasy novels). I’m interested in stories about love, friendship, family dynamics, and mixtures of all of the above. Mysteries are great here, too. I do really like edgy Young Adult work, stories involving artwork, books that take place in a variety of locations, and novels that explore rarely discussed topics. A few YA titles I love: WE WERE LIARS by E. Lockhart, BONE GAP by Laura Ruby, BEFORE I FALL by Lauren Oliver, I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN by Jandy Nelson. Next on my reading list: INFANDOUS by Elana K. Arnold.

MIDDLE GRADE:

I love Middle Grade novels about friendships, and those that reveal intricacies of family relationships. I also love adventure stories, and when magical elements reveal truths about our world. I’m definitely a fan of the quirky, whimsical, and laugh-out-loud funny in this category. Voice is extra important. Illustrated middle grade works and graphic novels are great, and as in all categories, books that challenge traditional forms. For example, FLORA AND ULYSSES by Kate DiCamillo and K.G. Campbell is one of my favorites. Other favorites: WILDWOOD CHRONICLES by Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis, WONDER by R.J. Palacio, TIMMY FAILURE by Stephan Pastis and THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET by Brian Selznick. On my reading list: LOST IN THE SUN by Lisa Graff, ECHO by Pam Muñoz Ryan, and WATCH THE SKY by Kirsten Hubbard.

PICTURE BOOKS:

I’m looking for quirky and humorous picture books filled with heart, and stories that help kids learn more about environments they know well, and other ways of life they’re less familiar with. I’m passionate about working with writers and illustrators who have stories they can’t help but tell, and who are excited about sharing tales that children will remember in their teens, in their thirties, in their sixties…stories they’ll want to pass on to their own children and grandchildren. I remember reading MARTHA SPEAKS and A BARGAIN FOR FRANCES countless times as a kid, and I’m looking for books that will also be read multiple times, with characters who are what Martha and Frances were to me. I’m extra selective when it comes to picture book text: I’m a fan of sparse text in general, and I’m most likely not the best match for rhyming text. I’m particularly excited about working with illustrators and author/illustrators—some illustrators whose work I admire: Dana Wulfekotte, Scott Campbell, Diana Sudyka, Matt Phelan, and Birgitta Sif…just to name a few! (The list could really be SO, so long.)

Part One of Interview with Andrea Morrison August Featured Agent 

What made you decide to get your MFA in fiction and from Columbia University?

I’d studied Creative Writing during my time at University of California, San Diego, and I loved it. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to write and teach, or if I wanted to work in Publishing. Ultimately, I loved providing notes on my classmates’ projects so much, and I also enjoy business, so agenting was a wonderful blend of everything.

Is that when you decided to become a literary agent?

Yes – I’d originally interned in the West Coast office during college, and had such a fantastic experience. I needed to explore some different options, but I ultimately decided agenting was for me!

I that when you Interned at Writer’s House in the New York City Office? If so, how long and what made you move to the West Coast office?

I interned at the New York City office while earning my MFA, and then I got hired on by Rebecca Sherman and Geri Thoma, who needed an assistant. After assisting for three years, I started to build my own list of clients while continuing to assist. After five years in the New York office, I moved west again.

Do you ever travel to the East coast to visit editors?

Yes!

Do you plan to limit the amount of clients you will represent?

I’m sure I’ll ultimately need to take on fewer clients as my list becomes more full, but right now I’m actively building my client list, so I am very happy to consider new work.

What are your favorite genres?

I have a wide variety of favorites. In the adult category, I love literary fiction and some narrative nonfiction (though I do more fiction than nonfiction). I love Young Adult novels and Middle Grade novels, and I also really have a soft spot for picture books.

Which do you lean more towards: Literary or Commercial?

Either, as long as the writing is effective for the particular story that the author is trying to tell.

Do you consider a book with a character between 18 and 25 years old an adult book?

I do.

Would you be willing to represent one of your picture book clients if they wrote a MG or YA or vice versa?

Absolutely!

Check back next Friday for Part Two of my Interview with Andrea.

HERE ARE THE SUBMISSION GUIDELINES FOR JULY FIRST PAGE CRITIQUES:

In the subject line, please write “AUGUST 2018 FIRST PAGE CRITIQUE”  Example: Paste the text in the email, plus attached it as a Word document to the email. Please make sure you include your name, the title of the piece, and whether it’s a picture book, middle grade, or young adult, etc. at the top on both the email and the Word document (Make sure you include your name with the title of your book, when you save the first page).

REMEMBER: ATTACH THE WORD DOCUMENT AND NOT GET ELIMINATED!Your First Page Word document should be formatted using one inch margins and 12 point New Times Roman font – double space – no more than 23 lines – only one page.Send to: kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail(dot)com.

PLEASE FOLLOW THE GUIDELINES: Your submission will be passed over if you do not follow the directions for both the pasted email and the attached Word doc. This is where most people mess up.

DEADLINE: August 24th.
RESULTS: August 31st

CHECK BACK NEXT FRIDAY FOR PART ONE OF MY INTERVIEW WITH ANDREA. 

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Responses

  1. Great Interview with an agent looking to build a list. THanks

    Like


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