Posted by: Kathy Temean | March 9, 2020

Writer’s House Agent Building List – Nora Long

NORA LONG: Junior Agent at Writers House

Nora primarily is interested in YA and adult fiction, as well as the stories that occupy the murky borderland in between. She thinks there’s a grand underexplored space for twenty-something coming-of-age novels, and she’d love to see more stories that deliberately appeal to the readers who are too old for YA but still end up reading YA because it feels more engaging. Everything she says below about genre applies more-or-less equally to YA and adult.  She is also open to some middle grade as well.

Here is Nora:

My first love will always be fantasy, and while I’m not averse to the odd swords-and-sorcery epic, my preference is for low fantasy and magical realism; stories that twist the real world 90 degrees and see what happens. I’m a sucker for a unique premise that can be expressed in a single sentence: “What if everybody got notified on the day of their death?” (THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END) “What if people were born without the ability to show their emotions via facial expressions?” (A FACE LIKE GLASS) “What if there were people who re-experienced their lives and retained their memories every time they died?” (THE FIRST FIFTEEN LIVES OF HARRY AUGUST). I love time travel. I love genre-bending; tell me a story about vampires in space, or a neo-noir fairy tale, or a post-apocalyptic romcom. I love retellings of well-known stories (fairy tales, myths, classic literature) made queer, or genderbent/racebent/disabilitybent, or transplanted to an unexpected setting or genre.

I’m always on the lookout for queer love stories, whether in a fantasy or contemporary setting, from all across the LGBTQIA+ spectrum. And while I understand the importance of coming out stories and stories of dealing with homophobia, I prefer to see queer characters ultimately get to be joyful rather than constantly carrying their queerness as a burden. I’m also interested in straight couples (or poly relationships) that feel unique or subversive in the ways the people relate to each other, in the balance of power dynamics and gender roles.

I’m the right agent if you’ve ever been told that your novel “reads like fan fiction,” as if that’s somehow a bad thing. I’m interested in the kinds of stories that get told in that space, stories that play with and subvert tropes, stories that focus heavily on relationship-building, stories that put familiar character archetypes into new and surprising worlds. One of my recent favorite YA novels was IN OTHER LANDS, which I think benefited a lot from starting out as serialized online fiction. That said, I’ve worked with a couple of authors to adapt ideas they’d written as novel-length fic into original novels, and it’s hard work. Don’t just find-replace the names in your fanfic and send it along; spend some time thinking about how to tell the story with entirely new characters, and without the benefit of an audience who comes in already knowing backstories and believing the main couple belongs together. I’m also very open to YA along the lines of ELIZA AND HER MONSTERS, FANGIRL, and SHIP IT, that explores what it means to be a part of fandom.

In miscellany, I’d love a well-plotted heist novel, anything that convincingly puts the reader inside the mind of someone with a mental illness, an unreliable narrator, or anything playing with meta or interactive story elements.

Specific requests aside, though, I want what everyone wants: characters who represent the diversity of the world we live in, protagonists who feel true and provide an interesting lens through which to view the story, villains who feel just as true and vibrant and story-shaping, and little details building up to big ideas that I feel compelled to keep talking about long after I’m done reading.

Fun facts about me:

I was a philosophy major in college, so talk syllogisms to me.

I (still) know the entire opening rap to Hamilton by heart.

When I’m in hardcore editing mode I mainline Lapsang Souchong, which is objectively the best tea.

Submission Guidelines

Submissions should be emailed to nlong@writershouse.com

Please send a query letter and the first ten pages of the manuscript copy-pasted into the body of the email to nlong (at) writershouse (dot) com. In the query, the main thing I’m looking for is your hook: whether it’s the premise, the world, a character, hopefully there’s something about your novel that made it fun for you to write and will make it intriguing for me to read. Tell me what that is. Also give a little background about yourself, any relevant experience or publications, and the book’s genre, age category and word count.

I aim to respond to every query within 8 weeks, preferably sooner. If it’s been 8 weeks, feel free to follow up. Definitely let me know if you get another offer of rep before hearing from me. And if you’ve previously queried someone else at Writers House, wait to hear back from them before querying me; we don’t accept simultaneous submissions to multiple agents here, and we don’t CNR–at least not on purpose.

Guidelines & Details

Vital Info

@noralong10
Linkedin
Website

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


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