Posted by: Kathy Temean | April 26, 2021

Agent Larissa Melo Pienkowski at Jill Grinberg Literary Agency

Larissa Melo Pienkowski grew up outside of Boston and attended Simmons University, where she earned her degree in Social Work and Sociology, performed poetry competitively and recreationally, and edited a number of literary magazines. Larissa later went on to receive her MA in Publishing and Writing from Emerson College, where she worked with the likes of Beacon Press and Barefoot Books before becoming the assistant publisher of an independent feminist press. She joined JGLM as an agent in 2020 and represents a wide range of adult and children’s fiction and nonfiction, with a deep-rooted passion for championing the stories of authors from historically excluded backgrounds. The daughter of Brazilian and Polish immigrants, Larissa speaks Portuguese and Spanish. She lives in Philadelphia with her fiancée and very fluffy husky, Olaf, and when she isn’t curled up with a good book or traveling the world, she can be found in her ceramics studio, where she makes wheel-thrown and hand-built porcelain pieces.

Larissa is open to queries.

Larissa gravitates toward books featuring a strong voice, emotional depth, and lyrical writing.
In fiction, She’s looking for:

  • stories of diaspora and displacement, like Ocean Vuong’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous
  • braided, multigenerational family sagas, like Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing
  • haunting, atmospheric queer horror and magical realism in the vein of Carmen Maria Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties and Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits, respectively
  • smart, sexy, laugh-out loud rom-coms with spirited, relatable protagonists (I love a good enemies-turned-lovers trope!)
  • non-Western gothic horror
  • non-Western folklore/mythology/cultural stories (MG, YA, and adult), as well as contemporary re-imaginings of mythology, like Madeline Miller’s Circe
  • quirky coming-of-age stories featuring protagonists and communities of color, like Isabel Quintero’s Gabi, A Girl in Pieces
  • middle-grade books that intertwine adventure with diverse cultural elements and strong, heartfelt characters (all the Black and brown joy, please!)
  • well-researched, non-Western LGBTQ+ historical fiction that captures a unique point in time, like Cantoras by Carolina De Robertis
  • darkly complex mother-daughter, sister-sister, and best friend relationships

On the non-fiction side, She’s looking for:

On the nonfiction side, she is seeking gorgeously evocative narrative nonfiction that blends unique perspectives with pop culture reporting, like Sexographies by Gabriela Wiener; cookbooks that feature diverse cultures and cuisines; Rebecca Solnit-like essay collections that chronicle contemporary life through a lens of social justice, feminism, and liberation; and cultural history and criticism, especially on niche topics having to do with beauty and fashion.

  • emotionally searing memoirs from underrepresented perspectives, like Pass with Care: Memoirs by Cooper Lee Bombardier
  • narrative nonfiction exploring the underbelly of contemporary society, like Sexographies by Gabriela Wiener
  • cookbooks that feature diverse, culturally underrepresented cuisines
  • essay collections that chronicle contemporary life through the lens of social justice (anything and everything Rebecca Solnit’s written is a good example)
  • cultural history and analysis, especially on niche topics like fragrance, beauty, cosmetics, power, and poison, like The Perfume Lover by Denyse Beaulieu and Lipstick: A Celebration of the World’s Favorite Cosmetic by Jessica Pallingston

She’s also open to contemporary, spoken word-to-page poetry in the vein of Yesika Salgado and Danez Smith, and am very selectively taking on picture books featuring characters of color, whimsical, and charming in topic and tone and diverse cultures.

Submission Guidelines

Please submit to me via info (at) jillgrinbergliterary (dot) com. Your email subject line should follow this general format: QUERY: [Title of Project] by [Your Name] / [Age Category/Genre] / ATTN: [Larissa Melo Pienkowski].

Please paste your query letter in the body of the email and attach your materials as a docx. file. You will receive an auto-response confirming your submission was received.

For all fiction submissions, please send a query letter and the first fifty (50) pages of your manuscript. For all nonfiction submissions, please send a query letter and complete proposal. Your nonfiction proposal should include an overview of the project, proposed chapter summaries, a sample chapter, comparable titles, your biography, and bibliography of any additional works. You may also include promotional ties/materials if relevant.

Guidelines & Details



Fiction: Action/Adventure, Children’s, Commercial, Erotica, Family Saga, Historical, Horror, LGBTQ, Literary, Middle Grade, Mystery, New Adult, Picture Books, Poetry, Romance, Short Story, Thriller, Women’s Fiction, Young Adult
Non-Fiction: Cookbooks, Journalism, LGBTQ, Memoir, Travel

Favorite sub-genres: Contemporary YA, Diversity, Feminism, Magical Realism, Multicultural, Multiple POV, Narrative Nonfiction, Self-Reflection, Social Issues, Upmarket Women’s Fiction

Her favorites include…

My favorite books are constantly changing, but my most recent fave is The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio!

In both adult and children’s fiction, she is looking for stories that center #OwnVoices experiences; dual timelines and multigenerational family sagas; enchantingly fantastical magical realism; haunting, atmospheric queer and non-Western Gothic horror like Carmen Maria Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties and Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican Gothic; smart, steamy, laugh-out-loud rom-coms with unique twists on tropes; contemporary retellings of non-Western folklore and mythology; vibrant middle-grade novels with strong cultural elements and heartfelt characters; light fantasy in the vein of TJ Klune’s The House in the Cerulean Sea and Trenton Lee Stewart’s The Mysterious Benedict Society; quirky coming-of-age stories featuring BIPOC, disabled, LGBTQ+, fat, and otherwise underrepresented protagonists; and darkly complex mother-daughter, sister-sister, and best friend relationships. She has a soft spot for novels that stretch the boundaries and limitations of genre.

As an advocate for authors from marginalized communities, Larissa is especially interested in representing diverse voices and experiences across all genres.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Thanks, Kathy!


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