DECEMBER'S MYSTERY AGENT IS...
WERONIKA JANCZUK of D4EO Literary Agency
I am Weronika Janczuk, a lit agent with D4EO Literary and a lover of witty books, tea, autumn, funky art, + '80s ♫.
(Query & full manuscript!)
Genre: Contemporary YA
When Alicia and Savannah find out that their boyfriends are lovers, school cliques are thrown out the window as this love square unravels.
I think this one won me over because of its simplicity—we see at the core an issue with a lot of depth and potential, but then the author gives it a spin with the voice (cliques thrown out the window, love square unraveling, etc). I really like the title, too.
(Query & first 50 pages!)
Author: Marquita Hockaday
Title: In Limbo
Genre: Historical YA
Syl thinks life sucks when his older brother goes off to fight in World War I and he's left with unstable parents, a bully, an absent best friend, and a budding interracial romance, but he soon finds his high school woes are nothing compared to the Spanish Influenza.
I love a very specific kind of historical fiction—large, sweeping dramas, particularly about female characters—but here I was struck by the last phrase in particular because the voice and the attitude of the novel really comes through for me, and the conflict is intriguing because it seems to be very layered.
Genre: Adult Commercial
James Pratchett, born in Balmer, Alabama as a black boy, returns to the town sixteen years later as a white man to enact his revenge on the men who killed his mother and made his life a living hell, only to discover that his childhood friend and first love is still there.
Awesome story. This would have won, maybe, if the author had done a better job setting up the potential for a love story (or love interest) in the beginning of the pitch; it follows as a random addition, though of course one that promises a lot of depth and interesting racial conflict.
Title: The Best of You
Genre: Single Title Contemporary
The NFL meets "The Biggest Loser".
Hehe. I’m curious—the pitch alone doesn’t suggest a genre, which might be a problem, but it was enough for me to know that this is a romance with this kind of angle.
Title: Stars in the Night
Amateur astronomer Lady Selina Hamilton doesn't want to spend the summer in a London Season, especially after a seductive whisky smuggler kisses her, mistaking her for her twin--and who only has revenge on his mind.
That last phrase—“and who only has revenge on his mind”—could have a little bit more oomph to it, but overall this pitch shows a lot of elements in a really elegant way and the voice and description fits the genre—I’m definitely intrigued to see how this works out.
I’d be more than happy to see a query and the first ten pages from anyone who participated in the contest, but based on the pitches, I especially would like to hear from the authors of OUT OF MY BODY, THE IRON WOOD, ANGEL OUT OF THE WATERS, THREE PARTS DEAD, SIEGE OF THE HEART, PHANTOM FIRES, THE WHISPERING CITY, and THE CABIN AT LOST CREEK.
You guys, Weronika just granted all contest entrants the privilege of querying her with YA material, though she's normally closed to unsolicited Young Adult queries!! And I don't know about you, but I counted one full request and FOUR partial requests up there! Congratulations, everybody!
And now for a helpful Q & A with our no-longer-a-Mystery Agent, Weronika (pronounced like Veronika):
Is there any specific thing you'd love to see in queries right now?
I’m not open to unsolicited YA queries at the moment (this contest would be an exception), as Mandy Hubbard handles those, so my answer may not apply to many of you, but I would really love to see a strong romance and a strong thriller particularly with a literary edge (a la Gillian Flynn).
I’m always looking for strong pitches and hooks, and anything that is upmarket—literary with a commercial bent—I will jump on.
What bugs you in fiction (e.g. disconnected prologues, Mary Sue characters)?
Characters that aren’t sympathetic and that don’t jump off the page so much that I can sense they could be seated next to me; I hate thinking that, if a character and I met randomly, we wouldn’t be able to have a conversation because the character falls completely one dimensional (there are, of course, exceptions—I won’t be talking to a serial killer anytime soon).
Plots that are too predictable; I pass on 90% of partials because I feel that I know what will happen, not in the sense that I’m guessing, as I would in a mystery, but in the sense that the novel is taking a very one-dimensional and linear approach to the genre and the conflict.
Do you have any client or agency news, new clients we should check out, etc?
I’ve been agenting since August, and I’ve already sold two books, one this month. You can check out that most recent announcement here.
You can follow all of my other news about deals and clients on my website/blog.
(More info on the two sales: The first book -- TRUCKER GHOST STORIES (Tor, 2012) -- is written by Annie Wilder, who can be found here, and the second -- MISERERE: AN AUTUMN TALE (Night Shade Books, July 2011) -- is written by Teresa Frohock, who can be found here.)
What movies/T.V. shows keep you coming back for more?
Criminal Minds—love that show!
Movies that I’ve watched more than twice (on purpose)—Titanic, Harry Potter films, Lord of the Rings films, Die Hard films, Oceans trilogy, Bourne films, almost every Julia Roberts and Susan Sarandon film, Fight Club, etc., etc. I love movies.
What's your favorite candy and/or baked good?
I love Reese’s Pieces. Hershey’s milk chocolate (with almonds, too). Chocolate chip cookies—warm and with milk.
Thank you so, so much, Weronika, for judging the contest and picking so many winners!
Find Weronika online:
Congratulations to the winners!! Good luck querying and submitting!
And Merry Christmas!