Posted by: Kathy Temean | December 4, 2020

November Agent of the Month – Results

Below are the four first pages Senior Agent Brent Taylor at Triada US read with his comments. Thank you Brent for being November’s Agent of the Month. 

Triada US was founded in 2004 by Dr. Uwe Stender. Since then, the agency has built a list of high quality fiction and non-fiction for readers of all ages. Brent is a senior literary agent and subsidiary rights manager at Triada US.

After years of interning in trade book publishing, Brent joined Triada US in 2014 to assist Uwe Stender while building his own list of fiction and non-fiction for readers aged 0-18. He was promoted to associate agent in November 2015, to agent in April 2017, and to senior agent in October 2020. In 2019, he was named a PW Star Watch Honoree. He is incredibly proud of his list—his clients’ books have won major awards, collected starred reviews, and hit the bestseller lists. In addition to his role as an agent, he manages the agency’s subsidiary rights, licensing audiobook and foreign rights to our titles around the world and attending international rights fairs.

Brent describes his reading tastes as upmarket: He’s passionate about books for young readers that are extremely well-written, robust with emotion, and appeal to a wide, commercial audience.

To see recent book deals he has brokered, visit his Publishers Marketplace page.

For more information about Brent and his list, visit his website or his Publishers Marketplace page. He focuses on books for kids and teens and describes his taste as upmarket: He falls in love with books that are extremely well-written, robust with emotion, and appeal to a wide, commercial audience.

Picture books: I am seeking picture book projects from authors and author-illustrators. My taste in this category covers a wide range: I love picture books that are fun and bonkers, as well as ones that are more literary. I’m open to fiction, non-fiction, and picture books in unusual formats or styles—verse, rhyme, comics, etc. Some of my favorite picture books are Julián Is a Mermaid by Jessica Love, Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal, My Papi Has a Motorcycle by Isabel Quintero and Zeke Peña, The Dress and the Girl by Camille Andros and Julie Morstad, and The Sound of Silence by Katrina Goldsaito and Julia Kuo. Some of the picture books I’ve worked on include Prince & Knight by Daniel Haack, Seven Bad Cats by Moe Bonneau, and The Arabic Quilt by Aya Khalil. Some forthcoming picture books on my list include Poultrygeist by Eric Geron, Big Wig by Jonathan Hillman, and I’ll Go and Come Back by Rajani LaRocca. I’m looking for picture books with an energy that pops off the page, that kids have never seen before, and that will turn them into life-long readers.

Middle grade: My middle grade list covers first kisses, demon-slaying, water dragon races, magical baking competitions, and everything in between. I love a wide range of middle grade, and the best way to describe what I’m looking for is to tell you about my favorite middle grade novels: Keeper by Kathi Appelt, The Best Man by Richard Peck, Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhhà Lại, The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall, and The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill. Some of the middle grade projects I’ve worked on include the Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond series by New York Times-bestselling author Sayantani DasGupta, YALSA-ALA Excellence in Non-Fiction Award-winner Free Lunch by Rex Ogle, and Smoke and Mirrors and the Silver Batal series from K. D. Halbrook. Being between the ages of 8 and 12 is so difficult. Kids are on the cusp of what feels like a vast, overwhelming, and unwelcoming world. I want to represent middle grade that enlightens kids to all the love and joy that the world has to offer.

Young adult: Though I lean more toward realistic/contemporary fiction, my interests encompass high fantasy and lightly speculative projects too. I love YA that captures the dichotomies of being young—how, as a teen, you yearn for freedom, but at the same time it’s incredibly scary for so many parts of your life to be changing. My favorite YA novels are bittersweet, authentic portrayals of what it’s like to be figuring out who you are, what this world is, and how those two things fit in with one another. Some of my favorite YA novels are The Vast Fields of Ordinary by Nick Burd, Dig by A. S. King, Ordinary Girls by Blair Thornburgh, and Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor. Neal Shusterman’s novels (particularly the Arc of a Scythe series) are a great example of the type of smart, commercial, and high-stakes YA that I love. Some YA novels I’m proud to have worked on include Whitney Gardner’s Schneider Family Book Award-winning You’re Welcome, Universe, 500 Words or Less by Juleah del Rosario, The Pursuit of Miss Heartbreak Hotel by Moe Bonneau, and Perfect Ten by L. Philips. I’m passionate about young adult fiction that helps teen readers discover, love, and live as their most authentic selves.

Graphic novels (for kids or teens): I’m open to both text-only graphic novel scripts and author-illustrated projects. My favorite graphic novels include The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang, Sanity & Tallulah by Molly Brooks, and Heartstopper by Alice Oseman. Some of my graphic novel clients include Whitney Gardner, Tori Sharp, Rex Ogle, Bre Indigo, and Eric Gapstur.

Non-fiction (for kids or teens): I’d love to see all sorts of non-fiction in the categories that I represent, including but not limited to biographies, memoir, narrative, history, science, and how-to.

Submission Guidelines

Submissions should be emailed to brent@triadaus.com

Send your query letter and first ten pages pasted in the body of the message to brent [at] triadaus [dot] com. Put “Query” in the subject line

HERE ARE THE FOUR FIRST PAGE RESULTS:

WELLSPRING by Suzanne Morrone – MG

Knowing someone isn’t coming back doesn’t mean you ever stop waiting. I scan every crowd, looking for that one face. I race for the phone, the landline we keep no matter what. I open the door to every knock. Every cell vibrates with the need to know. Lungs strain after years of holding in this desire unanswered. I have to come up for air, but like any seal in the arctic knows, breathing can be dangerous. They stick their nose out, and wham! Polar Bear breakfast.

So I wait. Every day, for two thousand, five hundred days, as I sit in the classroom, as I walk home from school, while cooking dinner, and later as I scroll through missing persons lists, I imagine each and every scenario, thinking this is the one, this is how we’ll find out. Who’d have guessed my dad would do the one little thing that finally catapults me into action.

After school, I shove the front door open, battling the pile of mail on the floor.  Colors from the square stained glass panels rainbow the wall. Silence makes the colors brighter, while the house hunkers down, waiting. Down the hall, Dad’s study door is shut. Like usual. Why can’t he come out and pick up the mail, at least some of the time? It would pile up into Mt. Everest if it were up to him. I dump my books on the hall table, and kick at the pile, fanning the mess across the entry.

A heavy ivory colored envelope with an engraved return address is lurking among the thicket of bills and advertisements. Goosebumps pop up on my arms. Dad’s lawyer. I slit the envelope: Filing date, court date. Deadlines. An unwanted laugh escapes. Deadlines. That’s appropriate. He’s petitioning the court to make it official. I run my hand over the words, touch the crisp edge.

The paper gives a satisfying crumpling sound as I wad it up. No way Mom is dead.

HERE’S BRENT:

Bravo on the cliffhanger here. My major concern with this opening page, however, is the fact that it is beginning with the protagonist just monologuing about their actions and general experiences, and I’m not getting a true sense for them as an individual, their personality, etc. Because I don’t have a sense of the character and don’t feel a connection to them or want to get to them, it’s difficult to want to continue reading.

*******

RED EARTH by Jaya Mehta – YA

The two men’s wrists were slippery with sweat, and Amina was beginning to slide out of their grasp. She gripped them as hard as she could, as they strained to lower her from the crowded train roof. She scrabbled for a foothold on the open windowsill below, then crouched and grasped the window bars first with one hand, then two. Bracing herself, she then jumped backwards, down onto the station platform of what had looked, as they pulled in, like a peaceful, small town. She bumped into another passenger as she landed. One of the men above who had helped her descend threw down her small bundle.

She had hoped to make it to the new nation of Pakistan on this Delhi-to-Lahore train, but at the last station a man warned that gangs of Hindu rioters were planning to slaughter everyone on the trains as they pulled into Lahore. In retaliation for ghost trains full of dead Hindu bodies pulling into Delhi. But there was no keeping track of what was revenge for what. Ever since the British had announced the division of India into two nations, the migrations and the massacres chased each other in vicious circles.

Scores of other passengers had the same idea, jumping off the packed roof and piling out of the train carriages. Women and children burst from the cars. Amina was shoved by passengers finding footing on the platform, struggling to stay with their families. Bundles of belongings were thrown down from the roof into the raised arms of waiting men. Other men shouted directions to those above. Babies wailed. Conductors barked orders to hurry up. The train blasted a warning and began to pull out of the station. The crowd began to disperse and it hit her that she had no place to go.

Just then she heard a different sort of shouting, a roar. A Hindu mob rounded the corner of the station, armed with torches, knives, sticks, sickles, and axes. Panic clawed at her. Stones began to fly, and the Muslim passengers screamed. The rioters charged. Amina looked wildly for

HERE’S BRENT:

The opening paragraph here is jam-packed with exciting action! However, as I read on, I struggled to connect with this character and become emotionally invested in her story. I want a stronger sense of her thoughts and feelings and how those inform her decision-making (and, thus, the action that is happening in the story). I encourage you to slow down every now and then take a moment to show the reader her innermost thoughts, feelings, and emotions. I am hesitant about the use of the words “rioters” and “mobs” here, but I want to note that I cannot provide any meaningful feedback regarding these elements based on just the first page.

*******

HALF-TRUTHS by Carol Baldwin – Young Adult

Prologue, June 1952

I should have known that something besides a Carolina thunderstorm was brewing.

Every day, Mama beat the living daylights out of our rugs and her forehead creased as deep as a tobacco row. Every day, Daddy worked extra hard inspecting Papaw’s tobacco plants and making us kids squish hornworms. Every night, they made a different excuse as to why they had to sit on the front porch alone.

I should have known a secret was about to bust loose.

But to be honest, my head was filled with stealing the 4-H presidency away from Mack Davis. I wanted to show him he wasn’t the only one who’s been raising animals his whole life. Besides, it’s 1952. It’s about time that a girl’s opinion mattered.

When we sat down at the table and Papaw prayed for the safety of our men fighting in Korea—something he never prayed before—I should have known that something was brewing

Chapter 1

“New Initiative in Korea”

“Next week my National Guard unit leaves for Fort Belvoir. We’re headed to Korea.” Daddy announces at dinner as calm if he’s asking Mama to pass the butter beans.

His words get stuck in my throat along with a fork full of mashed potatoes.

I cough hard and the next thing I know, Mama’s thumping the daylights out of my back. “Katie, Katie! You okay?”

I nod but can’t speak. She shoves a glass of water into my hand. I take a sip. Slowly, my breathing returns to normal.

HERE’S BRENT:

I love the voice here and the sense of the south—the reference to the thunderstorm, etc. I would encourage you to expand on this and give us a stronger sense of place. I think the prologue is so short, though, that it could easily be incorporated into chapter 1. After Katie hears about Daddy going to Korea, she could then go into the details of “I should have known…”

*******

AN EXTRA MERRY CHRISTMAS by Lou Ann Gurney     Picture Book

’Twas Christmas morning when Santa touched down at the North Pole. He’d spent the night delivering toys to all the good boys and girls. But his work was not done.

He pointed at some leftover toys littering the bottom of his sleigh. “I simply must hide these extras,” Santa said to his elves, “before Mrs. Claus sees them.”

He tried cramming them in the storage shed. Problem was there were a lot of other extras already in there.

“Not again,” Mrs. Claus complained when she saw the heap. “Every year you make too many toys.”

“Only a few extras to be sure I have enough. I guess it’s been adding up.”

Mrs. Claus sighed. “You’d better find a home for these toys or the North Pole will turn into a cluttered hazard zone.”

Santa called his friend the Easter Bunny. “Free toys,” he explained.

The Easter Bunny couldn’t resist a bargain. “It’s a deal,” he said.

But on Easter Sunday there were a lot of upset kids. (Illustration: Easter Bunny tries to hide large toys in places where eggs would normally be hidden. Large toys dwarf and crush Easter baskets.) So the Easter Bunny returned the toys to the North Pole.

Santa rang his buddy the Tooth Fairy. “Free toys,” he said.

The Tooth Fairy thought it might be a nice change of pace. “Sure thing,” she said.

Soon there were kids all over the world with cricks in their necks. (Illustration: Large toys are under kids’ pillows.) So the Tooth Fairy crated up the toys and hauled them back to the North Pole.

HERE’S BRENT:

I love Christmas, so this is a lovely premise. However, I’m finding it difficult to become emotionally invested in this story, because I don’t see that the stakes are high enough—it’s just that Mrs. Claus is concerned the North Pole will become cluttered. I would encourage you to revist the plot and stakes.

*******

Thanks again Brent for sharing your time and expertise. We all appreciate your thoughts. Have a nice holiday.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Responses

  1. Thanks, Kathy for the opportunity to share my first page and to Brent for his thoughts. ALways helpful to get an agent’s thoughts!

    Liked by 1 person


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